Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Brief Book Review of...

Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey

Ok, I know this website has "trilobite" in the title, so it may seem like I am just a paleonerd gushing about an obscure thing few people like, but this book is one of the best science books I have ever read.

It doesn't read all dry and rhetorical like a textbook. It is more like a novel about the life of the authour, who happens to be in love with studying trilobites. More than once it actually made me laugh aloud.

Fortey describes how his days at work usually contain a ride in the Tube (subway) where he makes other passengers uncomfortable when they ask what he did that day (his answer: moved North America 600 km) or else he is so far into the Australian outback the dingos are friendly.

Some of the discoveries in it are just amazing. The eyes of the trilobites were the first we've found in the fossil record, and were made of hard calcium crystals, not unlike the Cararra marble of Michaelangelo's David. (I could be mistaken...if you are a geologist, please correct me.) Some trilobites have the outline of their delicate limbs and soft parts preserved in glittering fool's gold (pyrite!). Simply astounding.

This guy loves his job and his life, and it shows on every page. It's not a technical book, and it is easy to find the authour and his subject utterly charming. I mean, the search for trilobites starts off on a dark and stormy night in a rough Scottish pub. It's awesome.

April 22 2007
(Once again, I think the new edition of this book has a better cover...but it was hard to find online, so I posted this one instead. I have a one with a bluer cover than this, from Flamingo Press, div of HarperCollins, 2001. )

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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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