Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012 - Nature - 332 pages
23 Reviews
From one of the world’s leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author ofTrilobite!, Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on EarthandDry Storeroom No. 1comes a fascinating chronicle of life’s history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older—and odder—than many of us realize.
 
Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not “living fossils” but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone.
 
Written in buoyant, sparkling prose,Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Wormsis a marvelously captivating exploration of the world’s old-timers combining the very best of science writing with an explorer’s sense of adventure and wonder.

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Review: Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind

User Review  - Grace - Goodreads

This was just ok. I loved the science, (obviously!), but sometimes he was unclear almost to the point of contradicting himself. I wasn't a fan of the writing style, and I felt a little preached-to ... Read full review

Review: Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind

User Review  - David Canon - Goodreads

An interesting biology book focusing largely on invertebrates - my favorite. This is a book that spans the evolution of life on Earth from the Precambrian to present, bringing special attention to ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Richard Fortey was a senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London until his retirement in 2006. He is the author of several books, including Fossils: The Key to the Past; The Hidden Landscape, which won the Natural World Book of the Year in 1993; Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth; Trilobite!, which was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Earth: An Intimate History; and Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing About Science from Rockefeller University and the Michael Faraday Prize from the Royal Society. He was president of the Geological Society of London during its bicentennial year in 2007 and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in Oxfordshire.

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