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A History of Life in 100 Fossils

by Paul D Taylor and Aaron O’Dea

Washington DC: Smithsonian Books, 2014. 224 pages.

According to reviewer David R. Schwimmer, “overall, this is a very good, beautiful book, which illustrates vividly many of the greatest stories in the history of life.” He explained, “The text is readable at any level of knowledge, and although some discussions wander a bit widely, most of the highlighted fossil subjects are clearly annotated. From a near-lifetime looking at fossils, I have become jaded to pictures of exciting fossils, but many of the images here amazed me.”

The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs

by Robert T. Bakker, illustrated by Luis V. Rey

New York: Golden Books, 2013. 64 pages.

 “I have mixed feelings about The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs,” reviewer Daniel Loxton concludes. “I feel that it calls for a certain amount of caution, but I long to recommend it for its energy, and the depth of its ideas, and the poetry of its storytelling. Kids could do much worse than to dig into a book that so eloquently describes the place of the dinosaurs in the broader tapestry of animal life and geologic time.”

My Beloved Brontosaurus

by Brian Switek

New York: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. 272 pages.

“Switek’s latest book, My Beloved Brontosaurus, is aptly titled,” writes reviewer Andrew A Farke. “It really is a love letter, to the dinosaurs of his youth as well as the dinosaurs revealed by the latest scientific discoveries. Switek adeptly navigates the treacherous waters between childhood enthusiasm for overwrought monsters and the living animals of reality. ...

Where Did Dinosaurs Come From?

by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

New York: HarperCollins, 2011. 40 pages.

From the publisher: "Stegosaurus had spikes along its back. Triceratops had long, sharp horns. Tyrannosaurus rex was enormous. Millions and millions of years before the first people lived, these fascinating creatures ruled the Earth. To find out where they came from, you have to look way back in time . . . 3.5 billion years ago! Come explore the biggest mystery of all: Where did dinosaurs come from? Read and find out!" 

The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity

by Douglas H Erwin and James W Valentine

Greenwood Village (CO): Roberts and Company, 2013. 416 pages.

Reviewer Roy E Plotnick writes that The Cambrian Explosion “will become required reading for anyone who wants to understand the multiple lines of evidence, from geology, geochemistry, paleontology, genetics, phylogenetics, comparative morphology, and ecology, that have to be integrated to understand one of the most important episodes in the history of life.” He praises the writing and the artwork as well as the scientific content, which “will become the foundation for research ...

The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited

edited by Brett Calcott and Kim Sterelny

Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2011. 319 pages.

“In 1995, with the publication of their book The Major Transitions in Evolution … , John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry introduced a new way of thinking about the ‘big picture’ of the history of life on Earth,” explains reviewer Derek Turner, a way that the papers in Calcott and Sterelny’s collection explore, extend, and critique. Warning that the book is not for the beginner, Turner adds, “The contributors include a mix of scientists and philosophers of biology.

The Universe Within

by Neil Shubin

New York: Pantheon Books, 2013. 240 pages.

In the sequel to Your Inner Fish, writes reviewer Alycia Stigall, “Shubin takes an even more expansive approach to explaining how humans came to occupy our place in this world—and indeed how this world even came to be a place for us to occupy. … Moreover, he deftly intersperses his discussion of evolutionary innovations with anecdotes about the scientists and studies that generated these insights.

The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood

by David R. Montgomery

New York: WW Norton, 2012. 320 pages.

“David R. Montgomery, a University of Washington geomorphologist, has written an entertaining and very readable book detailing why Flood literalists find so little support in the rock record,” writes reviewer Steven Newton. “Ranging from Mount Everest to the Grand Canyon, from the Creation Museum to ice-dammed Tibetan valleys, Montgomery explains what kind of features a worldwide flood would have created—and why what we see in the real world simply does not match.

The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet

by Robert M. Hazen

New York: Viking Adult, 2012. 320 pages.

Reviewer Joseph G Meert was “delighted to see that Hazen’s book turns the standard treatment of Earth history upside down by devoting an almost proportional treatment of space to the Precambrian (90% of the book) and the Phanerozoic (10% of the book).” Also distinctive in the book is Hazen’s emphasis on mineral evolution: “the complexity of mineral species on the Earth is a function of the interplay among life, environment, and chemistry.” Meert concludes, “If you are at all interested in deep time, this book will ca

Extinction and Radiation: How the Fall of Dinosaurs Led to the Rise of Mammals

by J. David Archibald
Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. 120 pages.

In Extinction and Radiation, according to reviewer P. David Polly, it is argued that “the patterns of extinction and survival through the Late Cretaceous and early Paleogene differed among groups of organisms, some of which died off prior to the collision and some of which were unaffected. These patterns thus cannot be entirely explained by a sudden impact.

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