The best book about the 4-billion-year history of life on Earth.
Fortey works at the Natural History Museum in London and has been a
palaeontologist for 30 years. A great deal in earth sciences
involves fieldwork; the painstaking and exhilarating documentation
of the natural world that inspires many a young scientist. It has
given the author of this remarkable book a clear and different
perspective in his history of the natural world. This is no dry
recital of the facts of the past 4000 million years, but a lively
and highly personal account involving literature, gardening and
even the author's cat, Felix. Fortey includes aspects of his
experience as well as images and ideas from all walks of life to
produce a book that reads like a slightly racy biography. For a
combination of fascinating science, travelogue, entertaining
character sketches and sometimes laugh-out-loud personal anecdotes,
there is nothing to match it. And you thought palaeontology was
dull! This is a book about the excitement and passion of discovery,
and the fact that the discoveries are in science is almost
incidental to the pursuit - precisely the same drives motivate
great artists, as well as great scientists, and Fortey goes a long
way towards dispelling the myth of the cold- blooded scientist.
A magisterial exploration of the natural history of the first four
thousand million years of life on and in the earth, by one of
Britain's most dazzling science writers. What do any of us know
about the history of our planet before the arrival of man? Most of
us have a dim impression of a swirling mass of dust solidifying to
form a volcanic globe, briefly populated by dinosaurs, then by
woolly mammoths and finally by our own hairy ancestors. This book,
aimed at the curious and intelligent but perhaps mildly uninformed
reader, brilliantly dispels such lingering notions forever. At the
end of the book we understand the complexity of the history of life
on earth, and the complexity of how it has come to be understood,
as, perhaps, from no other single volume. The result is
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