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Absolutely amazing I ve read Fortey before, and always been impressed, but I d grown tired of pop sci type stuff, and it had been a while One of my problems with this type of scientific story for the masses book is that they generally seem to be a three hundred page book for a fifty or one hundred page story What starts out really grabbing my attention tends to lose steam about half way through Fortey doesn t have that problem, because he s not a writer who s found an interesting scientific Absolutely amazing I ve read Fortey before, and always been impressed, but I d grown tired of pop sci type stuff, and it had been a while One of my problems with this type of scientific story for the masses book is that they generally seem to be a three hundred page book for a fifty or one hundred page story What starts out really grabbing my attention tends to lose steam about half way through Fortey doesn t have that problem, because he s not a writer who s found an interesting scientific story Instead, he s a life long, professional trilobite expert who also happens to be a great writer That means that he never runs out of things to say about trilobites and because he s such a great writer, it s always a pleasure to read.The abundance of scientific terms in Trilobite could be a little daunting, I think There is a parade of trilobites at one point, where Fortey introduces a dozen or so genuses with brief descriptions, and scientific names are scattered on all pages He also throws out about half a dozen anatomical terms after briefly describing them with a diagram and whips the reader back and forth through all six periods of the Paleozoic without any description or diagram It s a little denser than in most writing for a popular audience, but it s definitely worth it The major pluses are that, again, Fortey s a great writer, that he has an obvious passion and very deep knowledge and familiarity with the subject, and that it turns out that trilobites are cute and interesting little bugs about which it is worth writing a whole book You should go read it now While mostly good, it was so terribly terribly BRITISH Dry borderline unfunny anecdotes about some forgotten aspect of English culture went on for far too long when he could have been talkingabout his theories of trilobite interactions with their ecology or their particular curiosities of morphology of which there is never ever enough discussion for my satisfaction There is a hell of a lot of good and interesting information in here, but the too fluffy emphasis on POP in an admittedly While mostly good, it was so terribly terribly BRITISH Dry borderline unfunny anecdotes about some forgotten aspect of English culture went on for far too long when he could have been talkingabout his theories of trilobite interactions with their ecology or their particular curiosities of morphology of which there is never ever enough discussion for my satisfaction There is a hell of a lot of good and interesting information in here, but the too fluffy emphasis on POP in an admittedly pop sci book knocks a star or so off Maybe I m just too much of a nerd This book taught me all I need to know andabout trilobites, the arthropod that s 300 million existence is so impressively preserved in the fossil record The subject itself doesn t necessarily speak to me, but I appreciate anyone who is passionate and interested in a subject as author Richard Fortey is in his.Here s one lyrical passage I underscored, about fossil rich Cornwall in England How can we conceive of the time needed to wear away these cliffs to nothing, to convert all the massed This book taught me all I need to know andabout trilobites, the arthropod that s 300 million existence is so impressively preserved in the fossil record The subject itself doesn t necessarily speak to me, but I appreciate anyone who is passionate and interested in a subject as author Richard Fortey is in his.Here s one lyrical passage I underscored, about fossil rich Cornwall in England How can we conceive of the time needed to wear away these cliffs to nothing, to convert all the massed slates into fine silt, quartz veins into pebbles at first angular, then worn by the constant shuffling of the sea rounder and rounder, until they acquire the contours and colours of a hen s egg Millenia are irrelevant, species come and go, and still the cliffs stand obstinate against the inroads of time Normally I quite like Richard Fortey s chatty style, but I think maybe there was a bit too much of it, here He got me interested in geology, so he should ve been able to keep me interested in trilobites, but sadly my interest did start to flag The slight self deprecating note of some of his other books isn t as much in evidence here, and he definitely came across asBritish andstuck up without that to mitigate it a bit and make him a bit less of a clich.Trilobites are still interes Normally I quite like Richard Fortey s chatty style, but I think maybe there was a bit too much of it, here He got me interested in geology, so he should ve been able to keep me interested in trilobites, but sadly my interest did start to flag The slight self deprecating note of some of his other books isn t as much in evidence here, and he definitely came across asBritish andstuck up without that to mitigate it a bit and make him a bit less of a clich.Trilobites are still interesting, and I d love to go hunting for them in old shale, but I wantedfocus on the trilobites and less on Richard Fortey Great book with plenty of fine illustrations in line and photographs When I was studying this sort of thing the textbooks were dull and thick and the writing far too small I would have loved to have had this book then by way of an exciting introduction I used to be mad about dinosaurs, as are most kids, but trilobites took over later on and I actually dug up a few myself on the Yorkshire coast. This is a recreation of these creatures which used to roam the sea floors in prehistoric times, explained by an expert The basic pattern of body, head and tail in segments, with legs allowed for astonishing variations as some creatures adapted to shallow or deep waters, mud floors, rocky or sandy The trilobites three lobes had two eyes made of a solid crystal, amazingly While all palaeontologists study no longer living creatures, some have left descendants such as modern sharks or crocodile This is a recreation of these creatures which used to roam the sea floors in prehistoric times, explained by an expert The basic pattern of body, head and tail in segments, with legs allowed for astonishing variations as some creatures adapted to shallow or deep waters, mud floors, rocky or sandy The trilobites three lobes had two eyes made of a solid crystal, amazingly While all palaeontologists study no longer living creatures, some have left descendants such as modern sharks or crocodiles and it seems the trilobites have not The author admits that for years he silently hoped that one day deep sea searches would turn up a colony, but he has now given up on that hope We still don t know what s down there of course I enjoyed this book which is well written and presented, and quite accessible I recently read Trilobite, Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey, 2001 I found it to be a delightful read and I learned all sorts of new things about these fascinating fossil creatures and the worlds they inhabited for 300 million years Many thousands of species have been described andare being discovered every year.Trilobites have played a major role in paleontology and have been used as index fossils correlating the ages of geological layers around the globe.They range in size from I recently read Trilobite, Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey, 2001 I found it to be a delightful read and I learned all sorts of new things about these fascinating fossil creatures and the worlds they inhabited for 300 million years Many thousands of species have been described andare being discovered every year.Trilobites have played a major role in paleontology and have been used as index fossils correlating the ages of geological layers around the globe.They range in size from larger than lobsters to only a couple millimeters in length As would be expected in a group that lasted that long the amount of variation is staggering all the way from blind to calcium carbonate crystal for lenses in the faceted eyes, from plain and unadorned to covered with all sorts and shapes of spines.Fortey writes as much about the world they live in as about the trilobites themselves, the other sorts of life they shared the seas with He uses his own experiences on expeditions of discovery around the world to tell the stories of the fossils and the types and locations of geological formations they are found in today and what those habitats were like when these creatures lived.He was a contemporary with Gould and Eldredge and describes how Eldredge s study of trilobites led him to the concept of Punctuated Equilibrium He also explains Gould s errors in Wonderful Life The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History in a way I had never understood before.Fortey tells an engrossing tale and describes the same excitement of discovery that I have experienced and observed in my colleagues in the study of dragonflies.I can recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting read this winter Trilobite by Richard Fortey is a wonderful, witty, charming, very well written, and very richly illustrated homage to the trilobite, an arthropod that teemed in the millions in the seas of the ancient earth for 300 million years before becoming extinct Fortey is an enthusiastic expert on all things trilobite having studied them for over 30 years and did an excellent job in conveying his passion for these long extinct creatures in a very readable format with many dozens of excellent photog Trilobite by Richard Fortey is a wonderful, witty, charming, very well written, and very richly illustrated homage to the trilobite, an arthropod that teemed in the millions in the seas of the ancient earth for 300 million years before becoming extinct Fortey is an enthusiastic expert on all things trilobite having studied them for over 30 years and did an excellent job in conveying his passion for these long extinct creatures in a very readable format with many dozens of excellent photographs and sketches.Early on Fortey introduced basic concepts of trilobite anatomy he said eight technical names is all anyone needs to describe any species With the help of a diagram of a representative species, we learn for instance that the head is properly termed the cephalon while the other end the tail is called the pygidium Between the cephalon and the pygidium is the thorax, which is subdivided into segments thoracic segments A central convex portion or lobe running down the thorax and pygidium is called the axis, while to either side are the lateral or pleural parts.Reading about trilobite eyes was particular fascinating they were made of calcite the same substance that makes up the white cliffs of Dover and was popular in classical architecture , something unique in the entire animal kingdom Fortey discussed the physics and chemistry of the crystal eyes of trilobites, how they enabled the animal to see, how the lenses on trilobite eyes were arranged and how they functioned, the unique optical properties of calcite, even experiments replicating the vision of individual trilobite species in particular the experiments relating to the vision of Phacops were extremely interesting I never knew that physics had such a place in paleontology.We learn also that while whole trilobites are certainly found in the fossil record oraccurately the carapace of the animal, as the soft and delicate parts such as the legs only rarely fossilize much of what is found are only bits and pieces, often shed when molting Thoracic segments, pygidium, and other parts litter the fossil record like puzzle pieces and it is often the job of the trilobite expert to reassemble them, much like a jigsaw puzzle Some fossils sites such as Beecher s Trilobite Bed, an Ordovician fossil site in New York have preserved through unusual circumstances such delicate trilobite parts as their legs long a mystery to researchers and even antennae The details about the life of the trilobite found there genus Triarthus was fascinating apparently they lived in a very low oxygen, high sulfur seafloor environment and may have perished during a fatal drop of dissolved oxygen and were thus preserved but otherwise lived symbiotically with bacteria that derived energy from sulfur.Fortey introduced the reader to a wonderful parade of trilobite species, relating the history of the group from the Cambrian to its final days in the Permian the true Age of Trilobites he wrote ranged from the middle of the Cambrian to the Ordovician We find that trilobites lived in diverse habitats, from the shallowest sands to the deepest water shales in sunlit reefs and in gloomy abysses Olenellus for instance is the commonest of the earliest Cambrian trilobites, a creature the size of a large lobster that was a voracious predator 535 million years ago Agnostus was a tiny, millimeters long trilobite that swarmed in the millions, odd creatures that only had two thoracic segments and was so abundant that some late Cambrian limestones are made of nothing but this tiny trilobite Elrathia kingi is the commonest of the rock shop Cambrian trilobites, a middle of the road typical trilobite, one of many dozens of very broadly similar trilobites that make specialists gnash their teeth This species has been known to leave tracks that have been fossilized, one of the true mud grubbers that plowed furrows in seafloor sediment in its quest for food Parabarrandia was a streamlined, torpedo shaped Ordovician trilobite, a species that Fortey had performed experiments on in a water tank with dye to prove that it was well suited to a free swimming role I never thought one could do experiments on a trilobites that was fascinating to read Another free swimmer was the giant eyed Opipeuter Greek for one who gazes from the Ordovician, with eyes oriented to see forwards and backwards and a body plan designed to house powerful swimming muscles Also from the Ordovician was Isotelus, an unusual animal which completely lacked eyes and had a head surrounded by a border full of perforations, not unlike a colander This pitted fringe lay about the front of the head sort of like a halo, a rather complicated bit of Paleozoic engineering, the function of which has remained an enigma The Devonian abounded in trilobites covered in prickles and spines possibly related to the dominance of fish one, Dicranurus, among its spines appeared to have had great curling ram horns originating at the neck.As fascinating as trilobites are, Fortey had encountered those that question why he has devoted his life to their study The author made an excellent case that knowledge of trilobites has played vital roles in the debates over the origins of new species and the nature of evolution itself researches have been able to track changes in trilobite species over time thanks to their great abundance in the fossil record and in the study of the positioning of ancient continents as it has been discovered that trilobites make excellent index fossils, not only for marking intervals of geologic time but also to mark the shores of ancient continents, enabling or aiding in the mapping of the ancient world indeed Fortey himself named an Ordovician ocean, Tornquist s Sea, which separated the continents of Avalonia and Baltica, thanks to trilobites Fortey weighed in also in such divisive concepts in evolution as gradualism versus punctuated equilibria, the nature of the Cambrian explosion and what trilobites tell us about that , the origin of eyes in animals, and the importance and proper interpretation of the weird Burgess Shale fauna Reading the other reviews here, it appears a lot of other people don t agree with me, but I found the author s chatty, self satisfied style extremely annoying At times it seemed like he d written the bookto impress us with how clever he was, and how well educated in the English classic canon, than to teach us about trilobites The prose is overly florid, filled with unnecessary words and phrases that the author clearly thought were clever and which might have worked in the context of an i Reading the other reviews here, it appears a lot of other people don t agree with me, but I found the author s chatty, self satisfied style extremely annoying At times it seemed like he d written the bookto impress us with how clever he was, and how well educated in the English classic canon, than to teach us about trilobites The prose is overly florid, filled with unnecessary words and phrases that the author clearly thought were clever and which might have worked in the context of an informal lecture but which, written, struck me as clich s that added nothing to the narrative.I did manage to pick up a bit of information about trilobites, but it was hard going to pick it out of the matrix of the author s dense, and overwritten prose I skipped a lotthan is usual for me But then, unlike many reviewers here, I enjoy reading science books that don t assume that the subject has to be sugar coated to go down `READ PDF ☚ Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution ⇮ With Trilobite, Richard Fortey, paleontologist and author of the acclaimed Life, offers a marvelously written, smart and compelling, accessible and witty scientific narrative of the most ubiquitous of fossil creaturesTrilobites were shelled animals that lived in the oceans over five hundred million years ago As bewilderingly diverse then as the beetle is today, they survived in the arctic or the tropics, were spiky or smooth, were large as lobsters or small as fleas And because they flourished for three hundred million years, they can be used to glimpse a less evolved world of ancient continents and vanished oceans Erudite and entertaining, this book is a uniquely exuberant homage to a fabulously singular species