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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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. He then considers the what if questions that evolu This is a book primarily about steohen abundance of life in that had been preserved in fossils in the Burgess shale.

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. Without his spin, the jy of this book can be as boring as 8th grade history book.

Great overview on the Cambrian period and how honestly weird life was at that time. A New History of Life. Views Read Edit View history. I’ve never gotten over any of them. But his main point about evolution being based on contingency is very interesting.

The only critique I have against the book that it beats a dead horse on the effect of contingency in the evolution of life a bit too much; but maybe in the era it was written it was not that obvious. Then just read this, and be done: They survived as small animals in their holes and hideouts as dinosaurs ruled. He looks at the career of Marvaillosa and examines why Walcott felt it was necessary to shoehorn all of the Burgess forms into a jag theory of ancestry and diversification.


However most of these phyla left no modern descendants. Very interesting, but the edition I read goulv some information which has been reinterpreted since. Amazingly they were able to stehpen individual layers despite the extreme compression revealing features hidden from Walcott. Maybe it’s just that I have studied more science than the average member of the target audience.

Also it explains in detail why the thought processes that were required for the later revision of the interpretations of the fossils were not with Walcott.

La Vida Maravillosa

And then Gould talks about himself looking at Drs. Always look for biramous or uniramous appendages. I kept reading, because I kept hoping it would become interesting and it did! Gould is perfectly transparent about the tangle he gets himself in because he lets his mythology do his thinking for him. Would you like to tell us about a lower price?

I got that from Wikipedia, but he talks about being a paleontologist in this book. From ztephen science standpoint, he was a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian. East Dane Designer Men’s Fashion. Gould is a fabulous writer. One of my favourite books. The historical details around the Burgess Shale are extremely interesting, and gives an interesting picture goulld academic life and the personal biases that can affect science.


It takes place in the middle of a discovery and a debate, but is presented as the end of one. Gould posits that over time we have increased diversity but reduced disparity, or to put it another way abundant variation within a limited number of anatomical designs.

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. I’m not saying anything startling or new when I say this book is awesome.

This was written 20 or so ja ago now, and in its time would have been a seminal work; now it is still important, but understanding of the creatures in the Burgess shale are now better understood and technology can bring them to life in ways that Gould could have never of considered. I, on the other hand, do not. He never again published a major work on Burgess metazoans.

Wonderful Life (book) – Wikipedia

He gets all worked up about subjects that don’t really bother me. They include various worms, crustaceans, etc. He did not practice the religion of Judaism in any formal sense. Gould is with the “others,” and proposes that contingency is an importamnt component of evolution.