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Oceans of Kansas: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea (Life of the Past) Hardcover – June 29, 2005
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"Overall, at $39.95 for a hardback book, Everhart’s book is more than just a fun read. It is a reference book for the fauna of the Cretaceous and, for that reason, the price is a steal for the scientific information housed within these pages. The book also does a great job of delivering valuable, detailed information about the specimens... Many authors would probably skip some of these important details since they are very cumbersome to manage, but it is obvious to me that Everhart’s years of experience have taught him that sometimes the smallest detail can help another paleontologist now or perhaps even 100 years from now." ―Palaios
"... excellent... Those who are interested in vertebrate palaeontology or in the scientific history of the American mid-west should really get a copy. You will not be disappointed!" ―PalArch's Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology
"... Oceans of Kansas remains the best and only book of its type currently available. Everhart's treatment of extinct marine reptiles synthesiszes source materials far more readably than any other recent, nontechnical book-length study of the subject.... Everhart is always headed somewhere, and the journey is informed by expertise..." ―Copeia
"... [The book] will be most useful to fossil collectors working in the local region and to historians of vertebrate paleontology.... Recommended." ―Choice
Despite its title, this book is not a general treatment of marine paleoenvironments in Kansas. It is a history of fossil recovery, particularly vertebrates, from the Smoky Hill Chalk, a geologic formation representing a five―million―year slice of time from the Late Cretaceous Period. Ten of the 13 chapters are devoted to specific groups of animals. Each starts with a short fictional day in the life vignette but discusses largely who found what types of fossils when in the Chalk. One may doubt that there is any better historical summary of the discovery of these fossils, but behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary aspects that might interest a wider audience only take center stage sporadically, e.g., in the chapters on mosasaurs and pteranodons. This book is partly biographical since Everhart (curator of paleontology, Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS) is an accomplished fossil hunter. It will be most useful to fossil collectors working in the local region and to historians of vertebrate paleontology. The extensive use of anatomical terms without any general explanatory diagrams hinders access by nonspecialists at times. The 40 pages of references at the end likewise cater more to those with paleontological expertise than to a general readership. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper―division undergraduates through professionals.B. M. Simonson, Oberlin College, 2006jan CHOICE
About the Author
Michael J. Everhart, Adjunct Curator of Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas, is an expert on the Late Cretaceous of western Kansas. He is the creator of the award-winning "Oceans of Kansas" paleontology website at www.oceansofkansas.com. He lives in Derby, Kansas.
Top Customer Reviews
Particularly fascinating is Everhart's discussion of the famous fossil finders of Kansas: Professor Benjamin Mudge, the Sternberg family (George H., George M., and Charles H.), Theophilus Turner, and Samuel Williston, all of whom provided some of the earliest and finest material from this period now found in Eastern and European museums. Some of their finds formed the type basis of species and genus descriptions for the marine fauna of the age world wide.
Should anyone have the erroneous impression that scientists are totally objective and above petty squabbles, the author's frequent comments on the famous Cope and Marsh and their "bone wars," will totally disabuse you of the notion. Marsh from the Yale Peabody Museum and Cope from the Accademy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia conducted a personal battle to be the first to describe and name in print specimen arriving from the midwest that is virtually legendary in paleontology and geology departments. Both employed the local talent of Kansas to find suitable museum quality specimen for display. The 19th century seemed to have been the age of "collections" of every conceivable type. In an age before television and cinema, such collections drew large crowds, as P. T. Barnum's' menagerie of oddities illustrated.Read more ›
The treatment of the topic within a chapter is progressive. The author starts with a short dramatization. He sets the stage and presents a description of the setting and environment that pertains to the creatures discussed within that chapter. The chapter on sea turtles follows this pattern, for example. Once the dramatic setting is presented, the author commences to add details about the creatures that are the subject of a given chapter. Details about the fossil specimens are then added. This information is extensive and thorough. The author presents these specimens within their historical and paleontological perspectives. Several important names recur throughout the book. These are historical names well known to readers in this subject area. The author, himself, is responsible for surprisingly many of the discoveries cited.
I was impressed by the scope of this book. Its breadth is great. The level of detail presented here is daunting. It takes careful reading to follow that level of detail though. This is a substantial book and should be a good addition to the library of anyone interested in this subject. Kansas readers should take pride in how important the findings that have taken place in Kansas have been to the understanding of this earlier time.
The book is well illustrated, loads of pictures of the fossils in full reconstruction and disarticulated. The color plates by Dan Varner are maybe too few, but they're stunning, to say the very least.
The text may be a bit weighty for only the youngest of enthusiasts, but all others who have an interest in the great marine fossils of the Mesozoic should definitely get their hands on this book. I already consider it a classic; it really is that good.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book and I would encourage any who is attracted to this book or has an interest in paleontology to read it. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Charles Frederico Jr
Excellent book about all the other amazing creatures living so long ago. It wasn't just t-rex roaming around. The oceans were full too.Published 21 months ago by Cathleen Triplett
This is a very comprehensive, thorough look at the marine paleontology of the Mesozoic. Casual readers be forewarned, though, it gets rather into detail in specific fossils finds,... Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Cornerstone
Having crossed this former ocean floor several times, I was anxious to read Everhart's explanation of the ancient times and the visible evidence of that sea. Read morePublished on November 8, 2013 by Harshjudge
This is a great book with an overview of the fauna of the Cretaceous ocean that can be found in the rocks of Kansas. Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by Carson
this book answered some questions I had on why I couldn't find the type of fossils I thought should be in my part of KansasPublished on October 7, 2013 by suzan robinson
A must read for every student and professional paleontology, and amateur fan of High Plains paleontology. Once I began reading I could not stop until I completed the entire book. Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by Mike Robinson
Mike Everhart is an amazing prehistory investigator. He has studied life in the ancient seas of North America for many years. Read morePublished on April 2, 2013 by Judy C
This is a beautifully illustrated book (colored plates, and black-and-white diagrammatic illustrations of fossils and reconstructions of living animals) and an even more... Read morePublished on March 3, 2012 by Klair Dublin