Written In Stone: The Hidden Secrets of Fossils and the Story of Life on Earth, By Brian Switek
Things won't only get better
Sunday 11 March 2012
In this enthralling book, Brian Switek offers a popular introduction to evolution, challenging the view that life develops from primitive to "advanced" forms through a series of linear, law-like mechanisms.
He focuses on so-called "transitional" species – feathered dinosaurs, wading whales – whose discovery in the fossil record proved Darwin's notion of a messy, contingent process which results in a few successful adaptations and a great many evolutionary cul-de-sacs.
Switek's narrative is sweeping and fast-paced, and he has a knack for communicating difficult scientific ideas to a lay audience. Given how accessible his account is, I think he could have done without crowd-pleasing vulgarisms like "prehistoric poop".
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