Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

Stephen Jay Gould / Sep 24, 2020
Wonderful Life The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed million years ago called the Burgess Shale It hold the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived a forgotten
  • Title: Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
  • Author: Stephen Jay Gould
  • ISBN: 9780393307009
  • Page: 481
  • Format: Paperback
  • High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago called the Burgess Shale 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 book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale tells us about evolution and the nature of history.
    Wonderful Life book Wonderful Life The Burgess Shale and the In Wonderful Life, Stephen Jay Gould traces the history of this incredible find and comes to some controversial conclusions of his own The book, published in , was a best seller and won the Wonderful Life The Burgess Shale and the Nature of Oct , Wonderful Life chronicles the changing landscape of science in the seventies, and is about slow, but important changes in scientific thinking that change how we think about the world. It s a Wonderful Life It s a Wonderful Life Jan , Directed by Frank Capra With James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barry, Thomas Mitchell An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life SMALLFOOT Wonderful Life performed by Zendaya YouTube Aug , Only In Theaters September , Wonderful Life Performed by Zendaya From the Smallfoot Original Motion Picture
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    About "Stephen Jay Gould"

      • Stephen Jay Gould

        Stephen Jay Gould was a prominent American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.Most of Gould s empirical research was on land snails Gould helped develop the theory of punctuated equilibrium, in which evolutionary stability is marked by instances of rapid change He contributed to evolutionary developmental biology In evolutionary theory, he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology He campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two compatible, complementary fields, or magisteria, whose authority does not overlap.Many of Gould s essays were reprinted in collected volumes, such as Ever Since Darwin and The Panda s Thumb, while his popular treatises included books such as The Mismeasure of Man, Wonderful Life and Full House.


    1. 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 8,000 feet in the Canadian Rockies, near British Columbia, was at equatorial sea level 530 million years ago Its shale has revealed about 150 previously unknown arthropod genera and entirely new species with anatomies that would be unimaginable to us today had Charles Doolittle Walcot [...]

    2. A decent, but certainly out of date book The most interesting section is that regarding the anatomy of the Burgess biota, and the historical narrative of Whittington, Conway Morris, and Briggs is also a highlight The 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 developm [...]

    3. This book was unlike anything else I d ever read, I suspect because it owes something to the scientific monograph Maybe Not having ever read a scientific monograph they don t even call them that these days , I 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 Gould s [...]

    4. The drama I have to tell is intense and intellectual It transcends these ephemeral themes of personality and the stock stage The victory at stake is bigger and far abstract than any material reward a new interpretation of life s history In these sentences Gould not only tells us the theme of his book but how much his work means to him His passion for paleontology and the story of life resonate from every page His tone, perspective and considerable writing skills make Wonderful Life a wonderful [...]

    5. Wonderful book.Some of the science has been overtaken in the quarter century since it was written, but mainly in the details, not in the main thrust of the arguments And it is very much a long argument, if mostly with someone other than me I could have stood to be a bit less tired and distracted when I chugged through it, but then, I don t have a quiz next period, so.If one were actually studying the creatures and evolutionary periods, I d think one would want something recent, but all the hist [...]

    6. The Burgess Shale is a fossil deposit of importance equal to that of the Rift Valley sites of East Africa in that it provides truly pivotal evidence for the story of life on earth The shale comes from a small quarry in the Canadian Rockies discovered in the early 20th century by Charles Walcott, then a leading figure at the Smithsonian The Burgess fossils come from the Middle Cambrian Period, around 350 million years ago They form one of the earliest assemblages of soft bodied creatures from the [...]

    7. I m not saying anything startling or new when I say this book is awesome.So, for one thing, it s a book about writing and about mythology, and how what we think we know limits what we see and therefore what stories we can tell, a problem which Gould addresses both in terms of paleontologists looking at the Burgess Shale and in terms of Gould himself looking at the paleontologists looking at the Burgess Shale So he talks about how Charles Doolittle Walcott got everything wrong except for the name [...]

    8. Once upon a time, when I was on the path to being a geologist, I carved into the moist depths of a sandstone gorge in Clinton County, Iowa, and watched the sand crumble in my hand I jarred it, took it back to my lab, and sorted out the grains using a sequence of sieves of varying mesh, matched it to the known sedimentary facies from different depositional environments, and realized its origins A beach from the Silurian Period, still not entirely turned to rock.And that s when I knew that sedimen [...]

    9. Stephen Jay Gould performs a really unlikely feat in this book he makes arthropods as fascinating as dinosaurs In fact he makes a subject that could be extra ordinarily dull the process of taxonomic classification of a bunch of extra old fossils of small, squidgy animals into a dramatic and gripping read THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT CENSORSHIP POLICYSee the complete review here arbieroooklikes post 33

    10. I fell in love with dinosaurs when I was 8, about the time I fell in love with horses My passion for fantasy and science fiction followed later, during my teenage years I ve never gotten over any of them I d heard about the paleontological discoveries in the Burgess Shale in Canadian Rockies , first described in the earky 1900s and then re analyzed with startlingly different results in the 1970s and 1980s The Burgess Shale deposits date from the early Cambrian period, roughly 560 million years a [...]

    11. I think maybe I am not right audience for this book This is probably a great book for the proper audience If you know what a chelicerate arthropod is, then dive right in You probably have the proper knowledge base to allow you to appreciate and enjoy this book I, on the other hand, do not.Here s my takeaway message and this may not be right, since I skimmed a lot evolution is random, and weird Also, paleontologists are always correcting each other.Reading this felt like a chore I kept reading, b [...]

    12. Wonderful life, indeed One of the best science books I have ever read because the story is so extraordinary Most of the late Stephen Jay Gould s published works are collections of his essays but this is a full length book that tells the story of the fossils found in the Burgess Shale in Canada Normally, when you think of paleontology, you think of dinosaur bones as big as small cars But this deposit held the fossilized remains of small small tissued animals that lived 530 million years ago, long [...]

    13. This is a pinnacle in popular science writing As Gould refers in the book, many experimental scientist like myself despise taxonomy So I could have never thought a book mainly about taxonomical inferences and anatomical definitions would be one of my favourite books.The story of Burgess shale is fascinating, but only if you are as talented as Gould to make it fascinating Without his spin, the content of this book can be as boring as 8th grade history book But Gould has an unique talent of develo [...]

    14. Getting through Wonderful Life was an arduous exercise in critical reading I could never be certain if what I was reading was true, or if the conclusions the author was making were safe ones.From the outset the author s bias for his subject is apparent He explicitly states over and over that this material is a revolution, that it overturns the establishment, and that it s an incredible drama He says that it s the most important paleontological discovery ever, and it fundamentally changes our vie [...]

    15. This is a book primarily about the abundance of life in that had been preserved in fossils in the Burgess shale.Gould writes about the people who spent hour after painstaking hour examining the samples, deciphering the forms and understanding the compressed fossils in this rock formation In the second part of the book he writes about Walcott, administrator at the Smithsonian institute until he died, and his error in the analysis in the samples He then considers the what if questions that evoluti [...]

    16. Excellent I wish creationist s would take the time to read and absorb whole books like this Unfortunately I have not found whole books written from their perspective at this level or others referred to below I will include here a link to HingePoints, an article I wrote last year on biblical hermeneutic It was the beginning in a shift in perspective that was afforded by regarding biblical interpretation as malleable The world isn t, the text isn t, but how we view it is From here, other writings [...]

    17. Great overview on the Cambrian period and how honestly weird life was at that time Also gives a nice biography of Walcott, the man who discovered the Burgess Shale The Burgess shale has many examples of phylums of invertebrates that flat out do not exist any Most arthropods now only have about 4 different body types At this time there were Even known arthropod phylums such as trilobites give forms that became lost after this geologic time period.Gould gives his biography on Walcott This biograp [...]

    18. This is a fascinating book about science, interpretation, and the sometimes fractious way of development of knowledge The focus The Burgess Shale, located in British Columbia A treasure trove of fossil findings Gould s take on this is one person who imposed understanding of the meaning of the fossils versus others who proposed a different explanation Gould is with the others, and proposes that contingency is an importamnt component of evolution A fascinating story, with Gould s analysis at the f [...]

    19. Very interesting, but the edition I read had some information which has been reinterpreted since Possibly later editions added corrections I had a great time reading the chapters and then googling follow ups on the various theories and organisms, and much has changed since the book was written Still, very useful as insight into the process of discovering and understanding life forms.

    20. A lot of misinformation in this dated book Not just about the organisms, either, which might be excusable since the book was written before many were re evaluated, but the whole point he tries to make about the role of contingency in evolution is badly over stated Please read newer works about the fascinating Cambrian organism preserved in the Burgess Shale.

    21. This book describes the trials and tribulations of understanding the fauna of the Burgess Shale I was riveted by the process of actually scraping away the shale to study the underlying parts that were also preserved, like disecting a fossil Amazing.

    22. Along with the Galapagos Islands, I want to visit the Burgess Shale in Canada The life forms discovered in the Shale are cause for rethinking life on Earth Gould tells the great story of their discovery and possible implications for evolutionary theory.

    23. Gave up after 100 pages Shame on me for getting bored with science The lobster thingy isn t a trilobite Why does it even matter Can t you just tell me instead of making me read through years of correspondence between biologists

    24. If you have at least some interest in paleontology, evolution or the history and philosophy of science this will be a worthwhile book for you.

    25. Horribly dull and extremely disappointing Fails as both history and science The Burgess Shale is indeed a very interesting scientific find, but this book does no justice to how interesting it is.

    26. To be clear, Wonderful Life is not a perfect book, but it is certainly an amazing book It s pertinent to ask, Where does the book fall flat First, the middle section of the book, The Reconstruction of the Burgess Shale, is just a little bit too long I mean exactly what I said a few pages, say, 20 or so, after you ve said, OK, I m ready to get out of this murky details section and get on with the implications of it all, the section ends As Gould points out, the section is, admittedly, important P [...]

    27. This is a history of the discovery and rediscovery of the Burgess Shell fossils It explains how one of the greatest scientists in American history, Charles Doolittle Walcott, could get everything so completely wrong How the already accepted mythology of evolution as a continuous flow from simple to complex led him to place his findings into categories that supported this worldview So Marella becomes a trilobite, Yohoia becomes a branchiopod and Opabinia becomes a branchiopod crustacean Despite, [...]

    28. THis is a wonderful book, in all the senses of the word The primary focus, the burgess fossils, are the stuff of science fiction strange compilations of animal parts in strange configurations so strange that science fiction could only take a lead from nature rather than anticipate it For some reason, early life took some wild turns, many of which then failed to survive If this book were only a catalog of these unusual beasts it would have been fascinating, but this is only the start.In part beca [...]

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