The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil

The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil

by Kenneth J. McNamara
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Overview

The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil by Kenneth J. McNamara

Throughout the four hundred thousand years that humanity has been collecting fossils, sea urchin fossils, or echinoids, have continually been among the most prized, from the Paleolithic era, when they decorated flint axes, to today, when paleobiologists study them for clues to the earth’s history. 

In The Star-Crossed Stone, Kenneth J. McNamara, an expert on fossil echinoids, takes readers on an incredible fossil hunt, with stops in history, paleontology, folklore, mythology, art, religion, and much more. Beginning with prehistoric times, when urchin fossils were used as jewelry, McNamara reveals how the fossil crept into the religious and cultural lives of societies around the world—the roots of the familiar five-pointed star, for example, can be traced to the pattern found on urchins. But McNamara’s vision is even broader than that: using our knowledge of early habits of fossil collecting, he explores the evolution of the human mind itself, drawing striking conclusions about humanity’s earliest appreciation of beauty and the first stirrings of artistic expression. Along the way, the fossil becomes a nexus through which we meet brilliant eccentrics and visionary archaeologists and develop new insights into topics as seemingly disparate as hieroglyphics, Beowulf, and even church organs.

An idiosyncratic celebration of science, nature, and human ingenuity, The Star-Crossed Stone is as charming and unforgettable as the fossil at its heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226514710
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/15/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 280
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Kenneth J. McNamara is a lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge.

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Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
In this fascinating consideration of the life of fossil sea urchins, McNamara melds together the archeology, mythology, folk customs, and our penchant for collecting. I will never look at sea urchins the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago