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On Methuselah's Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  35 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
On Methuselah's Trail tells the story of some of the Earth's most remarkable inhabitants living fossils. Labelled 'living fossils' by Darwin, the ancient animals and plants Peter Ward explores have survived with little or no change the cataclysmic events that transformed life on earth. These 'Methuselahs' can tell us much about the history of life and about the great ...more
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Published April 1st 1993 by W.H. Freeman & Company (first published 1991)
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Andrew
Oct 04, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, science
Some random notes:

Brachiopods are millions of years older than clams, and taste awful.

Flat clams evolved before shell-breaking predators appeared.

Robert Hooke was interested in ammonite fossils.

Ammonites died out with the dinosaurs, but nautiloids survived (probably due to their reproductive strategy).

Some horseshoe crab ancestors may have been land animals.

Plants began living on land 400 million years ago. The earliest seed-bearing plants were gymnosperms, including conifers and gingko trees. F
...more
Eric_W
May 12, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Methulselah becomes a metaphor for living fossils in Peter Ward's eloquent book On Methuselah's Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions . The presence of peculiar forms like, the horseshoe crab, the nautilus, echinoids, and assorted other animals and plants puzzled Darwin. How, he asked, could these species have survived millions of years with little change while most other species evolved, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly, often becoming extinct? He resolved the question to his ...more
Virginia
Oct 27, 2012 Virginia rated it it was amazing
Fascinating good read. Peter Ward is one of my favorite authors. He weaves the past, present and future into a web that makes me feel a part of the large plannetary life. I love his stories of fossil gathering and his descriptions of the lives of these extinct creatures. He doesn't mince words when it comes to our present day extinctions, global warming, and the future we are heading into.
In this book we travel with Peter to locate those few creatures that has slipped by inevitable extinction, n
...more
Ballpeendash
May 31, 2008 Ballpeendash rated it really liked it
This book is wonderful in the it describes the advent of many different life forms, from Brachiopods to land plants to horseshoe crabs. It also goes on in great detail about species and body plans that have stood the test of time and give us glimpses into the distant past.
Mike
Oct 19, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paleontology
This is a very good palentology book. It tells a story with the science overview of the early fossil record. It is a fun read.
John
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Nov 13, 2008
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Apr 04, 2011 Don Kent rated it really liked it
This was a tough read for me, but very worthwhile.
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Peter Douglas Ward (born 1949) is an American paleontologist and professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has written popular numerous science works for a general audience and is also an adviser to the Microbes Mind Forum.



Life and work


His parents, Joseph and Ruth Ward, moved to Seattle following World War II. Ward grew up in the Seward Park
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