21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This is not a science book.,
This review is from: Gorgon: Paleontology, Obsession, and the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth's History (Hardcover)
Peter Ward writes of gorgons, the Permian extinction, and life as a paleontologist.
It is an interesting read, and there is a lot in here that's worth your time and money. I found some bits of it fascinating (especially his accounts of what it's like in the field). My problem was that I was expecting a book about gorgons. About what science knows (or hypothesizes) about the gorgon. In fact, most of the book doesn't mention the gorgon at all. And only a little is used to explain different ideas regarding the Permian extinction (with very little evidence being offered for Ward's views).
If you're looking to learn more about the gorgon - this isn't the books for you. If you're looking to learn more about the Permian extinction, this isn't the book for you.
If you're looking for an entertaining read about the process of field paleontology, about the experiences of doing work in a foreign country, then you should pick this up.
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Initial post: May 29, 2010 10:56:46 AM PDT
This is not a science textbook or a bone by bone examination of the anatomy or early 'mammal-like reptiles'.
This is one of the best books I have read on the how the process of developing a scientific theory depends on doing field work and having the stamina and expertise to read the rocks. Ward discusses how the types of sediments change depending on the environment of deposition, how they relate to the presence or absence of fossils, use of paleomagnetism and the process to recover cores, how deposits in South Africa changed from meandering rivers to braided streams after the Permian/Triassic extinction, and he compares the changes in drainage in Africa to those seen after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Ward also shows how media PR combined with good funding and bad data can get rave reviews when published by scientists who rarely leave their desks.
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