Catalogue


Beasts of Eden : walking whales, dawn horses, and other enigmas of mammal evolution /
David Rains Wallace.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, 2004.
description
xxviii, 340 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520237315 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, 2004.
isbn
0520237315 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
5149330
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 297-314) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
David Rains Wallace is the author of fifteen books, including The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution, winner of the John Burroughs Medal
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Beasts of Eden is a wondrous journey through the vanished worlds of extinct mammals. Exciting, insightful, and accurate, it is everything that good science writing should be."--Tim Flannery, author of The Eternal Frontier "A compelling scientific adventure storyƉ. Peopled with colorful and larger-than-life characters, this account of the history of paleontology dramatically demonstrates how the interactions between crude but charismatic fossil seekers, ascetic intellectuals, temperamental artists, and many others have forever changed the ways in which we view life's prehistoric beginnings."--Ian Tattersall, author of The Monkey in the Mirror "Beasts of Eden is a true delight. Each page drips with the drama and passion of scientific pursuit. Wallace is a keen observer, a learned writer, and a great story teller--this is a must read!"--Don Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human Origins
Flap Copy
"Beasts of Edenis a wondrous journey through the vanished worlds of extinct mammals. Exciting, insightful, and accurate, it is everything that good science writing should be."--Tim Flannery, author ofThe Eternal Frontier "A compelling scientific adventure story . Peopled with colorful and larger-than-life characters, this account of the history of paleontology dramatically demonstrates how the interactions between crude but charismatic fossil seekers, ascetic intellectuals, temperamental artists, and many others have forever changed the ways in which we view life's prehistoric beginnings."--Ian Tattersall, author ofThe Monkey in the Mirror "Beasts of Edenis a true delight. Each page drips with the drama and passion of scientific pursuit. Wallace is a keen observer, a learned writer, and a great story teller--this is a must read!"--Don Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human Origins
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-04-19:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this excellent work proves that a mural is worth 300 pages. Wallace (The Bonehunter's Revenge, etc.) uses the often overlooked Age of Mammals mural at Yale's Peabody Museum as the theme around which he builds the story of the evolution of scientific thought on mammalian evolution. Rather than structure his narrative around the theories themselves, Wallace focuses on the savants and scientists who developed them. Vivid descriptions of the "bare-knuckled rivalries of Gilded Age paleontology" which saw respected scientists sending saboteurs to each other's digs and lambasting one another in the popular press, and museum founders who grafted human teeth onto the heads of roosters bring these men to life as well as the best of them were able to do for the specimens they found. Each character's particular expeditions, macabre youthful pastimes and the fossils that led to their fame or downfall are illuminated by abundant quotations from a wide variety of sources. Judicious use of personal anecdotes lends an air of conviviality to the author's prose, and frequent returns to the Peabody mural add still more depth and perspective. Paleontology buffs will not be the only ones entranced; this charming story, skillfully told, will appeal to history and biography fans as well. 18 b&w photos, 2 line illus. Agent, Sandy Taylor. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2004-05-01:
In popularity, mammal evolution has always run a distant second to that of dinosaurs. In fact, the bigger, the better seems to be what sparks people's interest even among paleontologists. Here, award-winning science writer Wallace (The Bonehunters' Revenge) uses two murals painted by Rudolph Zallinger for Yale University's Peabody Museum ("the Sistine Chapel of evolution") as the springboard and recurrent theme. Taking readers through a history of fossil discoveries that correlate with the mammals in Zallinger's mural, Wallace argues that it is mammals not the flashier dinosaurs that have led the way to a greater understanding of evolution in general. Wallace uses the prolific fossil evidence of horses to point out the vagaries, offset by successful adaptations, exhibited by this species' evolution. His book will not answer or solve all the questions related to the evolutionary process, but it offers a nice stroll through the amazing array of unusual species that have populated Earth and reminds us that natural selection runs a close race with chance. Recommended for academic libraries with paleontology collections. Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2004-12-01:
The initial impression that the unwary browser gets from the dust jacket is that this book by Wallace (an independent scholar) is a natural history account of various fossil mammals. Instead it is a series of somewhat rambling essays on the populist historiography of some mammal studies by various personalities and researchers during the 19th and 20th centuries, mixed up with idiosyncratic attempts to connect with an incomplete art history of fossil reconstructions. The central thread of the book is a recurrent reference to the fine artist Rudolph F. Zallinger of Yale, whose stunning Mesozoic and Cenozoic murals, in their various details, deserve a dedicated coffee-table book in their own right. Beasts of Eden is well written and entertaining, but the eclectically culled case histories of "who said what" about a particular fossil may appear random and perhaps senseless to the uninitiated reader. Inevitably, Gould and punctuationism find their way into this book by an author who does not understand the ramifications and implications of that megatheory, and its tenuous position in modern evolutionary theory. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General readers and undergraduates. F. S. Szalay formerly, University of New Mexico
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, April 2004
Booklist, May 2004
Library Journal, May 2004
Los Angeles Times, June 2004
New York Times Book Review, June 2004
Choice, December 2004
Globe & Mail, August 2005
Guardian UK, October 2005
New York Times Book Review, October 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Mammals first evolved at about the same time as dinosaurs, and their story is perhaps the more fascinating of the two--in part because it is also our own story. In this literate and entertaining book, eminent naturalist David Rains Wallace brings the saga of ancient mammals to a general audience for the first time. Using artist Rudolph Zallinger's majesticThe Age of Mammalsmural at the Peabody Museum as a frame for his narrative, Wallace deftly moves over varied terrain--drawing from history, science, evolutionary theory, and art history--to present a lively account of fossil discoveries and an overview of what those discoveries have revealed about early mammals and their evolution. In these pages we encounter towering mammoths, tiny horses, giant-clawed ground sloths, whales with legs, uintatheres, zhelestids, and other exotic extinct creatures as well as the scientists who discovered and wondered about their remains. We meet such memorable figures as Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Edward D. Cope, George Gaylord Simpson, and Stephen Jay Gould and learn of their heated disputes, from Cuvier's and Owen's fights with early evolutionists to present controversies over the Late Cretaceous mass extinction. Wallace's own lifelong interest in evolution is reflected in the book's evocative and engaging style and in the personal experiences he expertly weaves into the tale, providing an altogether expansive perspective on what Darwin described as the "grandeur" of evolution.
Unpaid Annotation
A general interest exploration of mammal evolution and the scientific history of major fossil discoveries, their discoverers, and changing ideas about these extinct "beasts."It's both a grand mystery and a Cinderella story: mammal origins were one of 19th-century science's major enigmas, and mammals outlasted the more abundant dinosaurs to give birth to us.
Short Annotation
A general interest exploration of mammal evolution and the scientific history of major fossil discoveries, their discoverers, and changing ideas about these extinct "beasts."
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Prologue: The Fresco and the Fossilp. xv
Pachyderms in the Catacombsp. 1
Dr. Jekyll and the Stonesfield Jawsp. 14
The Origin of Mammalsp. 25
The Noblest Conquestp. 41
Terrible Horns and Heavy Feetp. 54
Mr. Megatherium versus Professor Mylodonp. 70
Fire Beasts of the Antipodesp. 79
Titans on Paradep. 91
Five-Toed Horses and Missing Linksp. 104
The Invisible Dawn Manp. 115
A Bonaparte of Beastsp. 123
Love and Theoryp. 135
Simpson's Cyndont-to-Smilodon Synthesisp. 145
Shifting Groundp. 157
Dissolving Ancestriesp. 166
Exploding Faunasp. 176
The Revenge of the Shell Huntersp. 188
Simpson Redivivusp. 198
Winds Thieves of the Kyzylkump. 207
The Serpent's Offeringp. 216
Anthropoid Leapfrogp. 233
Epilogue: Cenozoic Parksp. 249
Notesp. 261
Select Bibliographyp. 297
Indexp. 315
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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