Written in Stone: The Hidden Secrets of Fossils
The first book on the hunt for evolution’s ‘missing links’ over the last three decades – and what palaeontologists’ findings mean for our place on earth. Darwin’s theory was for more than a century dogged by a major problem: the evidence proving the connections between the main groups of organisms was nowhere to be found. By the 1970s this absence of ‘transitional fossils’ was hotly debated; some palaeontologists wondering if these ‘missing links’ had been so quick that no trace of them was left. However, during the past three decades fossils of walking whales from Pakistan, feathered dinosaurs from China, fish with feet from the Arctic Circle, ape-like humans from Africa, and many more bizarre creatures that fill in crucial gaps in our understanding of evolution have all been unearthed. These discoveries have revolutionised the way in which the fossil record is read to make sense of life on Earth, including the evolution of human beings. WRITTEN IN STONE – a hugely compelling scientific history by an up-and-coming star of popular science – is the first account of the remarkable discovery of these gap-fossils and of the new stories they tell about the evolution of life.
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Acanthostega adapted Africa air sacs American anatomist anatomy ancestors ancient animals apes aquatic archaeocetes Archaeopteryx australopithecines Basilosaurus bipedal birds bones Buckland called cetaceans Charles Darwin chimpanzees closely coelurosaurs creatures Cuvier cynodonts Darwinius Deinonychus Devonian discovery earliest early tetrapods earth elephants Eocene evidence evolutionary evolved FIGURE fish forms fossil record genus geological geologist hind limbs hominin Homo erectus horse evolution human Huxley hypothesis Hyracotherium ichthyosaurs Ichthyostega known Koch Koch’s later Lepidosiren lineages living London look lower jaw Lyell Macmillan Publishers Ltd mammalian mammals mammoth Marsh mass extinction mastodon mesonychids million years ago Museum Natural History natural selection naturalists organisms Origin of Species Owen’s Pakicetus paleontologists pattern permission from Macmillan Pleistocene populations present primate proboscideans relatives remains represented reptiles Richard Owen rock scientific scientists similar skeleton skull specimen Steno strata synapsids teeth terrestrial therapsids theropod thought Tiktaalik toes traits transition tree vertebrates whales York