Ian Tattersall, a highly esteemed figure in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology, leads a fascinating tour of the history of life and the evolution of human beings. Starting at the very beginning, Tattersall examines patterns of change in the biosphere over time, and the correlations of biological events with physical changes in the Earth's environment. He introduces the complex of evolutionary processes, situates human beings in the luxuriant diversity of Life (demonstrating that however remarkable we may legitimately find ourselves to be, we are the product of the same basic forces and processes that have driven the evolutionary histories of all other creatures), and he places the origin of our extraordinary spiritual sensibilities in the context of the exaptational and emergent acquisition of symbolic cognition and thought.
Concise and yet comprehensive, historically penetrating and yet up-to-date, responsibly factual and yet engaging, Paleontology serves as the perfect entree to science's greatest story. The book is published by Templeton Press.
©2010 Ian Tattersall (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks
"Endlessly absorbing and informative. It would be hard to imagine a better introduction to this most important and fascinating field." (Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything)
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"great summary of where we are with understanding"
I was surprised how listenable this book was in audible. I did have to have a paleo chart on hand to get a better picture and follow the audio along but the book has taken me to a new place of understanding. Technical for me as an interested amateur I enjoyed the challenge. Well worth the price and exactly as described in the title.
"Fabulous insight into the history of life."
Tattersall's "Paleontology" is a superb history of life starting with the formation of the planet as told through rock formations and the history of life as recounted by the fossils that those rocks contain. This book is a progress report on the fast-moving branch of paleontology as it advances through analysis and ways of extracting data from what is known through fossil finds that are constantly enlarging our base of knowledge. Tattersall helps the readers gain a sense of fun and excitement into the world of paleontology and into the process of discovering where human beings fit into the natural world.
"Brief and concise."
Not at all too technical; this book is geared towards persons with little background in science.
I thought the book was well written and engaging. The audiobook is at a disadvantage in not being able to show illustrations of the fossils. I'm looking forward to that technology.
"I wanted much more..."
This book is less about the field of Paleontology than it is the findings of the field. I had hoped for insight into the field's history and methodologies. Instead, it provides a lengthy summary of the History of Life, with very little contextual information about how the knowledge was gained.
I would have greatly preferred if Tattersal had explained more about how the field began, how its scientists refined it over many decades, and who they were. Without learning about, for example, *who* Cuvier was and how people thought in his day, how can one appreciate his early contribution to the depth of this exciting field of research? And how can one understand the ethical significance of The Bone Wars without knowing much more about the two men involved? There are too many interesting stories about how the field has advanced to focus just on its findings. This feels like a classic history textbook: just "one damned fact after another."
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