Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History is a book on the evolution of Cambrian fauna by Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. Alex Shrugged Stephen Jay Gould passed away in He was Jewish (as am I). He was what is called in some circles a “secular Jew”. He did not practice. Burgess Shale y la naturaleza de la historia – Stephen Jay Gould la nalga del ministro, La vida maravillosa, La sonrisa del flamenco, Acabo.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. High in vid Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed million years ago called the Burgess Shale.
La Vida Maravillosa
It hold the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived—a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in awesome detail. In this maravillosaa Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale tells us about evolution and the nature of history. Paperbackjah. Published September 17th by W. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Tould Lifeplease sign up.
Alex Shrugged Stephen Jay Gould passed away in He was Jewish as am I. He was what is called in some circles a “secular Jew”. He did not practice the …more Stephen Jay Gould passed away in He did not practice the religion of Judaism in any formal sense.
He called himself an agnostic.
Given what I have read of him, that seems like a reasonable representation. His writing has been excellent I am very much impressed by him. From the science standpoint, he was a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian. I got that from Wikipedia, but he talks about being a paleontologist in this book. He is suitably qualified to author this book. See 2 questions about Wonderful Life…. Lists with This Book. A book about wonder and a wonderful book. The story of the Burgess Shale—from its initial misinterpretation to its reassessment 50 years later—is mind blowing.
This limestone outcropping, which sits at an altitude of 8, feet in the Canadian Rockies, near British Columbia, was at equatorial sea level million years ago. Its shale has revealed about previously unknown arthropod genera and entirely new species with anatomies that would be unimaginable to us today had Charles Doolittle Wal A book about wonder and stehen wonderful book.
Its shale has revealed about previously unknown arthropod genera and entirely new species with anatomies that would be unimaginable to us today had Charles Doolittle Walcott not discovered them in Gould calls these animals with their maravilkosa anatomies “weird wonders” and explains that their broad proliferation was possible because the middle Cambrian was a time of filling the so-called “ecological barrel.
Another thing learned from the Burgess Shale is the imprecision of the concept “survival of the fittest. Srephen adapted animal also needs luck on its side, luck that it cannot possibly have any direct role in affecting. I refer to the importance of contingency. Gould calls it “decimation by lottery,” and given its sway, unyielding adherence to classic evolutionary principles like gradualism etc.
Finally, if you will accept my argument that contingency is not only resolvable and important, but also fascinating in a special sort of way, then the Burgess not only reverses our general ideas about the source of pattern — it also fills us with a new kind of stephne also a frisson for the improbability of the event at the fact that humans ever evolved at all. We came this close put your thumb about a millimeter away from your index fingerthousands and thousands maravilloosa times, to erasure by the veering of history down another sensible channel.
Replay the tape a million times from a Burgess beginning, and I doubt that anything like Homo sapiens would ever evolve again. It is, indeed, a wonderful life. Gould is a fabulous writer.
He writes with a minimum of jargon, and concepts of any complexity he is careful to explain. But he does this without being tedious; he mafavillosa it, in fact, while sharing his own boundless sense of fascination. Gould was a brilliant man, a rare amalgam of top-flight scientist, science writer, and teacher.
When he died stepphen years ago he left a great hole in the landscape of writers who could engagingly write for the visa reader about evolutionary biology and paleontology. There is simply no one else like him working today. I’m in the process of reading all of his books.
La Vida Maravillosa : Stephen Jay Gould :
There are about Highly recommended for those with an interest in science, particularly the life sciences. View all 21 comments. A decent, but certainly out of date book. The most interesting section is that regarding the anatomy of the Burgess biota, and the historical maravilloas of Whittington, Conway Morris, and Briggs is also ztephen highlight. The more technical details of chapter three might throw some readers off, but I found them to be fascinating.
Unfortunately, most of the book is out of date. Most of the “weird wonders” that Gould describes have been taxonomically re-evaluated in the previous two decades, and technical A decent, but certainly out of date book. Most of the “weird wonders” that Gould describes have been taxonomically re-evaluated in the previous two decades, and technical developments in systematics the concept of “stem groups” in cladogramsnow show that much Gojld biota, ironically, belong closer to the original classifications of Walcott.
Much of the maraviillosa are now considered to be stem groups of modern taxa, evolutionary aunts and uncles.
I also found Gould’s continued emphasis on the “cone of increasing diversity” to be quite exhausting. Based on Gould’s own definitions of diversity and disparity, there is no fundamental problem with depicting increased diversity in more modern geological eras, because there simply are more species Gould’s diversity than in the Cambrian and Pre-Cambrian.
Additionally, Gould seems to be railing against concepts that either haven’t been present in the evolutionary literature for decades, perhaps centuries depiction of an evolutionary ladderor his examples of phylogenies are either strawmen or misinterpreted.
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History by Stephen Jay Gould
For example, in Haeckel’s illustrations, Gould does not analyze the taxonomic groups represented, nor does he consider that Haeckel perhaps wanted to ,aravillosa the phylogenies of the taxa he placed close to the top, and thus gave them more visual importance, because, after all, there is only so much space on the page.
In cladograms and other methods of depicting phylogenies maarvillosa, if the diagram is “rooted”, the vidda is meant to depict the hypothetical last common ancestor. Since clades are monophyletic all descended from a single common ancestorthere is always going to be a “cone of increasing diversity”, because the clade always depicts hierarchical branching lineages of descent. The only way there would not be a cone is if there truly was goud ladder within a single lineage, something that Gould rightly disparages!
One could argue that this is because Gould was simply arguing against older methods of depicting phylogeny, rather than the relatively new at the time cladistics, but even these do not generally follow his pattern. For example, in a classic depiction of fossil horse phylogeny to use one of Gould’s examples from chapter onethe maximum “disparity” is reached in the Miocene, and then scales back as it gets closer the the present. Overall, the book is maravilloxa not bad, especially when it comes to the historical and anatomical aspects.
But in too many instances, Gould is simply engaging in his typical “revolutionary” grandstanding and hyperbole.
Proceed carefully, and read more up-to-date texts as a follow up. View all 4 comments. Sep 05, C.
This book was unlike anything else I’d ever read, I suspect because it owes something to the scientific monograph. Not having ever read a scientific monograph they don’t even call dtephen that these daysI don’t know. Anyway, Gould repeated and repeated and repeated the same conclusions over and over and over and over, until I was ready to embrace the iconographies of the cone of increasing diversity and the ladder of progress just to spite him.
Despite that, this was an excellent book. Go This book was unlike anything else I’d ever read, I suspect because it owes something to the scientific monograph. Gould’s thesis is that life did not begin with a single or limited number of organisms who formed the precursor s of all modern life – i. In fact, Gould argues, life began with rampant diversification – a large variety of organisms of radically different form evolved rapidly around the time of the Cambrian explosion, only to be decimated drastically by a combination of bad luck, evolution and possibly other unsuspected mechanisms.
The proof maravilolsa holds up to support this is the fossils of the Burgess Shale found in the Canadian Rockies early last century by the eminent geologist Charles Walcottmost of which have no relation at all to modern species. His respect for the reader as an ‘intelligent layperson’ is refreshing and makes this book a real pleasure to read.
The sometimes unfortunate corollary of this is that this book isn’t exactly light reading in places, but stephenn is always comprehensible, even if it sometimes takes a bit of effort. I was interested to see that I didn’t hold some of the preconceptions he argues against – I hope because this book is rather out of date, being published in the year I was born!
Shit and that the thinking and teaching of evolution has moved on somewhat since shephen. I like to believe that science, and the world in general, is moving ever sttephen towards the better, though this meliorist approach usually leaves me disappointed. Maybe it’s just that I have studied more science than the average member of the target audience.
Gould’s prose is quite unusual by any standards, and very unusual for writing about science. Sophisticated, eloquent, at times personal and always passionate, Gould peppers his writing with allusions to literature, popular culture, the occasional Bible verse and once, memorably, an entire poem by Robert Frost. This worked best in the sections about the history of the Burgess Shale; these parts could have been excerpts from a well-written novel.
His asides about the nature of research, the relationships between different scientific disciplines, and many other topics were often just as interesting as his discussion of the conceptual basis for his work.
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
Unfortunately, this type of prose I found entirely unsuited to writing about the science itself. When he got down to describing things like the anatomies of the individual species and the techniques used to excavate and analyse the fossil specimins, this prose suddenly seemed overblown, convoluted and overly purple; in short, distracting. I wished he could temporarily have adopted something closer to the dispassion and objectivity that is usually associated with science.
I suspect, though, that his answer to this criticism would probably be that science is never objective and scientists are rarely dispassionate, and naturally he’d be completely right. View all 12 comments.
Jan 03, Max rated it really liked it Shelves: It transcends these ephemeral themes of personality and the stock stage. His passion for paleontology and the story of life resonate from every page.