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Evolution: The Story of Life Hardcover – November 9, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0520255111 ISBN-10: 0520255119 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520255119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520255111
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 10.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,008,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Covering evolution from the worldwide fossil record, this lavishly illustrated source reflects the latest discoveries in paleontology, like early birds found in China and small hominids found in Indonesia. The book contains an introduction to evolution followed by chronologically arranged two-page spreads on “100 of the finest fossil sites.” Also found in the volume are a “Tree of Life” section that covers cladistics, an alphabetical gazetteer of the 100 sites, a species listing, a glossary, an index, and a foldout time line. The depictions of individual sites detail the ecosystem as documented by the fossils found there and include a time line and rich artwork, with numbers and icons keyed to accompanying captions and other information. Also on each page set is a map of the earth and the sea level at the time represented and a map showing the fossil site. The fauna and flora (if they survived in the fossil record) reflect the biodiversity of the ancient ecosystems and document evolution over time. Each spread also gives a list of species appearing in an illustration, which takes up most of the space. Examples of illustrations include the Siwalik Hills in India and Pakistan; a rich source of fossils from the Neogene era; and Folsom, New Mexico, an important site for evidence of big-game hunters in the Holocene. The end papers offer a “Panoramic View” of the site illustrations. What sets this book apart from other reference books on evolution is that it is not a textbook or an encyclopedia. It is rather a pictorial history of life on earth. Science writer Palmer and well-known illustrator Peter Barrett have teamed up to create an exciting record of life on earth. It will be a big hit in reference collections, circulating collections, or on coffee tables. --Jack O'Gorman

Review

“If time machines were real, this would be the book to carry on nature hikes into the distant past.”
(Natural History 2009-12-01)

“This beautiful volume is worthy of any collector's coffee table.”
(Library Journal 2009-11-01)

“An exciting record of life on earth.”
(Booklist 2009-12-01)

“Stunning . . a wonderful tribute 150 years after Darwin published his seminal work.”
(Wildlife Activist 2011-06-20)

“Overwhelming scope and depth. If not for yourself, and if not merely for the bizarrely reasonable price, I seriously recommend seeding the library.”
(Carl Mehling American Paleontologist 2010-12-01)

“This book is up to date and includes . . . current paleontological and systematic knowledge, all of it accurate and correct.”
(Michael J. Benton Bioscience 2010-09-01)

“Evolution is a good book . . . . You get a large book filled with lots of color and lots of detail.”
(Fossil News 2010-09-30)

“Useful and engaging work.”
(Reference & Research Book News / Scitech Book News 2010-08-17)

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Customer Reviews

And they will want to come back for more.
J. Mero
The illustrations are roughly 7" x 19", with a timeline across the top of the pages as well as text and additional illustrations across the bottom.
Corraleno
I thought the book overall was great in explaining evolution and the illustrations were well done and very informative.
Carl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
You've all heard the saying don't judge a book by it's cover. Well, that's what I would say here. The cover (a dramatic shot of a mudskipper) is one of the best for any evolution book I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the contents inside the book are not as good. The book seems like it's trying to be both a biology textbook and coffee table book at the same time, but succeeds at neither. The artwork consists of less than impressive drawings of ancient life, compared to the visually stunning computer-generated images of ancient animals in Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth. The text doesn't make up for the lack of visual appeal since it mostly consists of a few small paragraphs running along the bottom of the page. The book does explain a few key concepts about evolution, but it never goes deep enough to satisfy more curious readers. For a good textbook, I'd recommend Carl Zimmer's The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution. For a coffee table book on the same subject, Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth's layout and pictures are better.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dino Dan on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be well-written and very nicely illustrated with a unique presentation. The illustrations strive to depict not just the lifeforms, but also the environments in which they lived. In addition, the illustrations, done in a 'traditional' medium opposed to CGI, also blend into each other, creating a mural effect.

Each featured time depicts the animals (and to lesser degree plants), relates climate, then-and-now locations, and data of noteworthy signifigance. The only aspect in which the book could be viewed as falling short is perhaps the brevity on entries. Much of the information on a given lifeform is usually a paragraph or so. Simply knowing the size of creature would've been nice. Some of the illustrations do appear a bit 'stiff', but overall I preferred this book's approach over the similar Prehistoric Life: Definitive Guide book. I purchased both, and I recommend doing so as well, as the two books compliment one another.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Corraleno on November 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't understand the negative reviews for this book, which seem to criticize it for not being what the reviewer wanted it to be. Perhaps the problem is that both the cover and the "Look Inside" feature give a slightly misleading impression of what the book is about, since the sample pages only really show the introductory section. The heart of the book consists of 100 2-page spreads, each providing a panoramic full-color drawing of the environment, plants, and animals of a specific place at a specific time, based on the fossil record. The illustrations are roughly 7" x 19", with a timeline across the top of the pages as well as text and additional illustrations across the bottom. There is a pull-out in the back of the book, with a comprehensive timeline on one side, and on the other side is a miniature version of all the illustrations, linked together into an extensive panorama.

The illustrations may not be cutting-edge CG, but they're beautiful in their own right. Like the murals one commonly finds in natural history museums, they're very detailed and evocative of the time and place they represent. I also own the DK Prehistoric Life book, which another reviewer recommended in place of this one, and while I do like that book, it is primarily a catalog of individual creatures, with an illustration and a paragraph or two of text on each one. Evolution: The Story of Life focuses on specific fossil sites, and on all of the flora and fauna that existed at that site at a particular point in time. Comparing the two seems like apples and oranges to me. I recommend both books, since they provide different (equally interesting and appealing, in my opinion) approaches to the subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Francis Bacon on April 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book by Palmer and Barrett is the best graphic display of each evolutionary period of any book on the subject that I have reviewed. It has a timeline above each period with commentary and pictures of fossils. It provides the kind of overview that is needed in beautiful graphics. In addition, it has outstanding foldouts of important topics in evolution such as cladistics of each phyla, geological time scales, and important events in biological time.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Mero on February 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With its abundance of drawings and concise text this is a very interesting overview of sites and findings that underpin the theory of evolution (ToE).
The book is quite comprehensive for what it is, and the illustrations are very well done.
And yes, it is a nice coffee table book as well for more enlightened and educated families.
The drawings are all based on fossils found in the different regions described, and although it sounds like some would have preferred photographs, National Geographic wasn't on the scene soon enough. Neither was the Discovery Channel. So instead, enjoy the art work that is presented here!

The book is a particularly good educational investment for families with young children as all the explanations and illustrations generally would satisfy the kids' questions, and is brief enough for their concentration span. And they will want to come back for more.
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