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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderous presentation of natures adaptations., December 11, 2000
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This review is from: At the Water's Edge : Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea (Paperback)
Carl Zimmer brings the organizational skills of an experienced journalist and surprising literary talents to present an exquisite, up to date, narrative on the evolution of tetrapods, emerging from the water as amphibians and returning as cetaceans. In this book, he reports on the latest fossil discoveries, the prominent scientific researchers and the direction of their scientific analysis with style, and more importantly, great clarity. Some portions of At the Water's Edge are not easy for armchair paleo-buffs to comprehend, but Zimmer does an admirable job explaining the function of mesenchyme cells and hox genes. What I enjoyed most about this book, was the way Zimmer follows the trail of scientific discovery, documenting every bit of evidence, like a well-tuned detective novel. It's a compelling tale of interaction between paleontologist, geneticists, geologists and embryologists over many years. New fossil specimens demand a reworking of the evolutionary chronology. Our knowledge about the origins of tetrapods, our ancestral forbearers, is enhanced through the process of discovery. What I enjoyed most about Zimmer's work is the sense of objectivity and balance that comes from the third party perspective of a journalist. While Gould, Eldredge, Conway-Morris, Fortey and Bakker provide paleophiles books of great personal insight and passion, At the Water's Edge is completely satisfying in it's precise reportage. This is Zimmer's first book... I hope he's started another!
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