- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted April 5, 2013
Posted January 25, 2013
On the outskirts of camp, was a small pond. Beyond it was a grove of oak trees, with branches low to the ground, good for placeing herbs on. It was shielded by a rock wall behind it. ~Windwing
0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 11, 2012
It can be taken as certain that every organism alive today can p
It can be taken as certain that every organism alive today can potentially be found represented in the fossil record by the remains of the identical or nearly identical species. Hence, in some sense, all living things are "living fossils." Thus, the central theme of Fortey's Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is an oxymoron. This point does not evade Fortey any more than it evaded Darwin who was also aware of the phrases absurdity.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Like much else in natural science, the term "living fossil" is, in fact, shorthand for "organisms found alive today whose remains can be found in nearly identical form in the fossil record of many millions of years ago." As a subset of that definition Fortey, himself, suggests "true living fossils" as those organisms well-known in the fossil record and eventually discovered to be still alive and well in historical times - in that order. Fortey doesn't let the ambiguity of the term stop him however. After quickly dismissing the issue, he launches into a world-wide tour of several dozen examples, "true" or not.
Fortey's text deals with many more organisms than just horseshoe crabs and velvet worms. The prize-winning author of several other paleontological popular works such as Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution, Fortey writes in a distinctive and engaging style, if a bit peripatetic. Obviously in great command of his subject, the author often jerks the less-informed reader about as he grabs relevant (to him) examples out of thin air. Most of the book is spent describing the anatomy, physiology and ecology of one after another of both plant and animal "living fossils" Deeper analysis of the evolutionary significance of these sort-of-special organisms is reserved for the last chapter in which Fortey hesitatingly ascribes the survival of these "living fossils" not necessarily to any specific, common advantageous characteristic of the group, but simply to luck - being at the right place through geologic time.
The ebook that is reviewed here is subject to a common limitation of electronic text media - all of the illustrations are addendum at the end of the book instead of being integrated into the text. Given Fortey's poetic and effusive writing this is a constant annoyance.
Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University