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Discovering Fossil Fishes (Henry Holt Reference Book) Hardcover – July, 1996

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Maisey is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, behind whose monumental facade seethes a hotbed of revolution in the science of classification. The shake-up is cladistics, a movement that began with studies of insects and fish and is gradually sweeping through all of biology. Maisey's book gives a clear overview of the evolution of fishes and their descendents (which includes people) from a mind-broadening perspective. The downside of cladistics is a forest of terminology, but anyone who can master the nomenclature of a children's dinosaur book should get even more out of this illuminating work.

From School Library Journal

YA-Maisey does an excellent job of tracing the evolutionary pathways of fish, as illustrated by the fossil records. It is a narrow subject, but well within the grasp of advanced biology students. The text is not overly technical, but is not simplistic.
Susan McFadden, Fairfax County Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Henry Holt Reference Book
  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co; 1st edition (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805043667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805043662
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,822,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Marley on May 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're the type of reader who spends a little more time at the local aquarium, who marvels at any creature dangling from the fishing line, or cherishes the little fossil Knightia you bought as a child, this book is essential reading. Discovering Fossil Fishes presents the 500 million year evolutionary history of fishes in a logical and visually stunning presentation that is highly informative and entertaining. The book features outstanding photography of fossil specimens found around the globe. Fine illustrations offer a window into a prehistoric aquatic environment filled with both exotic and familiar-looking fish. The juxtaposition of the fossil specimen images with the "reconstructed" illustrations helps readers appreciate the value of our fossil record in understanding the subtleties of evolutionary development.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Vecsei on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I came across this book while finishing my MSc at Guelph. The book soon made its rounds among all the ichthyology students and faculty. It is well written, lavishly illustrated and nicely designed. Seeing this volume going for so cheap surprises me. I paid 5 times more for mine. Any student involved with fish taxonomy, evolution and general biology MUST get this book. I found the lateral views a bit goofy but the paintings of creatures in motion in their habitat are superb. People who are interested in early life on our planet should also consider having a look at this one. BRAVO Dr. Maisey!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Currahee on October 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Maisey is a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. With this work he has brought the evolution of the fishes to the popular science reader. My only major complaint about this book is in format. I would like to have seen it arranged by geological period as apposed to taxonomic group. I also think that a more visual group of cladograms arranging all the fishes would have been in order. Many cladograms are included but they only show small snippets of the relationships between fishes and you have to piece a larger picture together throughout the book. The illustrations are excellent and you will have a hard time finding so many images of fossil fish, if you are just interested in seeing images of fossils then this will be great for you. I also liked how he discussed the development of major morphological features. While a person of specialized interest might be aware of these, having them all in one place is convenient.
If you have a developing interest in fishes or in vertebrate paleontology than this book would be good to have. It would also be a nice compliment to any library including material on natural history.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Khemprof TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Discovering Fossil Fishes written by John G. Maisey is a book covering fish fossilization through out history. Spanning more the one-half billion years fishes are older than dinosaurs and have links to the tetrapods on land.
This book is highly illustrated with art work one nearly half of the pages with the dialog on the other half of the book. Fishes have a unique evolutionary history that stretches back in time, they are incredibly ancient and include the ancestors of all the limbed vertebrates living on the land.
I found the book to be highly readable and easy to follow as this book could be read and understood by those twelve years old or older. There are color illustrations along with fossilized pictures comparing both. This gives the reader a good approximation as to what the fossil would look like in life.
From their ancient ancestors, the craniates, fishes evolved not once, in a single lineage, but multiple times, filling countless biological niches. Given their long evolutionary history, itis not surprising that so many species of fishes exist today; one new fish species evolving every 18,000 years, or about 55.5 species evolving per one million years. The sum total of fishy diversity through time is far greater than now, and the evolutionary history of fishes is a vast and comples subject.
But, the author wrote this book with the layreader in mind and the prose are simple but very effective. as more fossil fishes are uncovered we will know better what the ancient world looked like and come to discover more of our own ancestors.
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