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Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters 0th Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231139625
ISBN-10: 0231139624
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prothero, a geologist at Occidental College (After the Dinosaurs), explains how rich the fossil record has become. His goal is two-fold. First, he wants to demonstrate the wide variety of transitional forms that have been found, many within the past 20 years. Second, he aims to discredit the creationist movement. I have tried to document how they routinely distort or deny the evidence, quote out of context, and do many other dishonest and unethical things—all in the name of pushing their crusade. He accomplishes both of his goals (though he can be repetitious regarding the creationists), and his descriptions of recent research, much of it his own, are compelling. Prothero explains that the Cambrian explosion of life forms was anything but an explosion, and presents the impressive transitional fossils between reptiles and birds, along with striking evidence for mammalian evolution, including the relationship among hominid groups. With good science and some specific rebuttals to creationist arguments, this book demonstrates the importance of paleontology to the study of evolution. 208 illus. (Nov.)
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Review

This book demonstrates the importance of paleontology to the study of evolution.

(Publishers Weekly)

A must read...Brilliant and masterfully researched.

(Greg Sweatt Fossil News)

Engagingly written and scientifically accurate... Highly recommended.

(CHOICE)

This is one of the best books of its kind.

(Christopher diCarlo Guelph Mercury)

The book is very valuable as a demonstration of the quality of the fossil record, which has improved dramatically in the past decade.

(Peter Dodson Reports of the National Center for Science Education)

(T)o anyone who wishes to be informed on our current knowledge about fossils and their interpretation, and for anyone who is still not so sure whom to believe, this book will straighten things out and will be an unforgettable reading experience.

(Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231139624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231139625
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Switek on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A cursory look at the science section of any bookstore will reveal a current glut of books about evolution and creationism, some works being excellent reviews of the debate while others are not worth the paper they're printed on. Prothero's book falls into the former category, being the best popular resource I've come across to date about evolution and the evidence from the fossil record.

One of the most important (and appealing) aspects of Prothero's book is that he takes a "gloves off" approach to creationism, not waffling on the subject like other recent works (i.e. Whitham's "Where Darwin Meets the Bible"). This more up-front tone allows Prothero to look at the claims of creationists and ID advocates in depth, his excellent review of the formation of the Grand Canyon (the only one I know of in the popular literature) being a fantastic example of melding positive scientific evidence with a thorough refutation of pseudoscience. Still, while Prothero takes a more aggressive approach than other recent authors the book is hardly a long diatribe against creationism; Prothero combines personal experience debating YEC stalwarts like Duane Gish with his extensive knowledge of paleontology, geology, and evolution, delivering a successful one-two punch that is informative on more than just one level.

If I have any complaint about this book, it is only that some of the sections require a little more fine-tuning or focus to bring out the important evolutionary trends. The chapter on Dinosaurs is a good example of this; while Prothero provides a good review of important fossil finds, the origin and diversification of sauropod dinosaurs, ceratopsians, and dromeosaurs could use some further clarification as there is certainly more to the story than was given room for discussion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The earth is old, and animals and plants have changed over time. If you know somebody who doubts these two well-established propositions, this is the book to share with them. I remember, as a teenager, in the early 1980s, reading Duane Gish's "Evolution: The Fossils Say No," as well as the other standard texts of creationism, and Prothero's book would have helped me think through (and past) creationism a lot quicker than I did. Prothero's book might have been aptly titled, "Evolution: The Fossils Say Yes." It is a lavishly illustrated, thoroughly readable, and authoritative dismantling of creationism. Because of the patient work of contemporary scientists writing accessible popular texts on evolution, no thoughtful 21st century young person need be intellectually derailed by creationist literature. Dr. Prothero's is perhaps the best of the current spate of these types of books. I especially liked the chapter on the origins of life, and the chapter on the Grand Canyon. One of the strengths of this book is that Dr. Prothero does not dodge difficult questions, but attempts to address them directly. It is always refreshing to read somebody who does not obfuscate or downplay contrary lines of evidence, and who is willing to say "I don't know" when something is uncertain. The book is thus, in addition to its overt purpose, also an excellent model of sane and measured reflection. A good companion volume to Dr. Prothero's book might be "The Counter-Creationism Handbook," by Mark Isaak, recently published by the University of California Press.
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Format: Hardcover
"Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" is the best book I have ever read emphasizing the importance of the fossil record as the indisputable "facts" of biological evolution, documenting the history of life on Planet Earth. Its publication is long overdue, and yet, remains quite timely, when major publishers like Simon and Schuster have mistakenly published sterling examples of mendacious intellectual pornography like Michael Behe's "The Edge of Evolution". Indeed, Prothero's book ought to be viewed as the one that demolishes forever, Behe's inane assertion (which he had expressed in a private e-mail reply to me that I've posted elsewhere here at Amazon.com) that the fossil record is irrelevant, claiming that the "truth" will be found only at the molecular level (More than anything else, that terse comment from Behe merely demonstrates his profound ignorance and understanding of the fossil record. Incidentally, Prothero refers to Behe as an "Intelligent Design creationist".). It also demonstrates the absurdity of creationist claims from the likes of Behe's Discovery Institute colleagues Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells, and Geoffrey Simmons, among others, that the fossil record does not have "transitional forms". Indeed, as Prothero clearly shows his readers again and again, the history of life on our planet is replete with "transitional forms" documenting the evolutionary transitions from fish to tetrapods, from terrestrial carnivorous dinosaurs to flying birds, from primitive ungulate mammals to whales, and from apes to mankind. He also stresses the relevance of the fossil record to other aspects of evolutionary biology, noting its relevance with respect to molecular - as well as comparative anatomical - data.Read more ›
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