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In The Blink Of An Eye: How Vision Sparked The Big Bang Of Evolution

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  145 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
About 550 million years ago, there was literally an explosion of life forms, as all the major animal groups suddenly and dramatically appeared. Although several books have been written about this surprising event, known as the Cambrian explosion, none has explained why it occurred. Indeed, none was able to. Here, for the first time, Oxford zoologist Andrew Parker reveals h ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 14th 2004 by Basic Books (first published April 16th 2003)
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strangely enough, i picked this up in the bargain bin at HEB grocery. The book fleshes out the authors theory about the cause of the Cambrian explosion (described as 'evolution's Big Bang). Basically, Parker is saying that the Cambrian Explosion was caused by the sudden evolution of vision in primitive trilobites. I found the theory fascinating and convincing. Especially after reading so many expositions on the period, like Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life. Gould's emphasis on contingency seem ...more
Juliet Wilson
Jun 28, 2015 Juliet Wilson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, science
This is a fascinating book about how light has guided the evolution of life on earth, focussing on the big bang of evolution that happened during the Cambrian period (543 - 490 million years ago).

It is full of fascinating details including:

* angel fish can use their silver scales as mirrors to blind their predators;

* how the camouflage of both predators (such as lions) and their prey (including wildebeeste) is an adaptation guided by light;

* how the cave fish has developed different forms depe
Oct 24, 2011 Sammie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The theory that 545 million years ago the Cambrian Explosion (the sudden expansion of animal diversity) was triggered by the emergence of the first eye.

It loses one star for annoying name dropping (most of the time he is rightly referencing prior work which is fine, but sometimes we get a rambling Person-Institute-date/time/place he met them for no strong reason).

It loses another star for general rambling about himself when he should be getting on with the science.

Despite those two complaints
Mar 25, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: evolutionophiles, natural history and palaeontology lovers - patient ones, that is.
Shelves: science
This book presents a new theory to explain the Cambrian explosion, a sudden diversity of life 545 million years ago. It's a brilliant idea, based around the evolution of vision and the opening of predatory niches that sight provided. The trouble is, the idea isn't presented in the best of manners. I've studied invertebrate palaeontology, so I might be a little biased as none of the information presented was new to me, but there was never really any stage where this book grabbed me. I found it a ...more
David Todd
Jan 05, 2014 David Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

I'll come back and write a fuller review later, or perhaps do it on several posts on my blog. It's a good book, but Parker gets bogged down in extinct species names, makes frequent references to what he said earlier chapters and coming chapters. It was hard to follow and annoying to deal with.

My main complaint about the book is that it can't decide if it's scholarly or popular. It's a little too scholarly to be popular, and too popular to be scholarly. He gets his point across, that th
Dec 18, 2011 lia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
I bought this when there's a 70% discount on the book and because of the pretty cover and lastly because of the Cambrian explosion.

The Cambrian explosion has been long confused Darwin because it defies his theory of gradual evolution.
Thus Andrew Parker tries to explain what happened back than that caused the said explosion.

I wouldn't go on rambling about what he said on the book, and i'm not sure i could with my limited knowledge of evolution theories.

Let's just say that i acquire new knowle
Silvio Curtis
Aug 15, 2010 Silvio Curtis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book explains the author's theory that the Cambrian Explosion was touched off by the first trilobites' evolving eyes, which would have escalated predator-prey interactions. I wonder whether the author, as a specialist in animal coloration, might be underestimating the potential of other senses, but it seems like a plausible theory and informatively explained. I hope that I'll find out about it if paleontologists ever come to a conclusion on what caused the Cambrian Explosion.
Aug 23, 2010 Danielle rated it liked it
This book posits that the Cambrian explosion was precipitated by the advent of vision in animals. It is well documented and easy to read, but irritatingly structured. Parker tries to build suspense about his thesis, revealed only at the end of the book. But don't worry; this is not a spoiler. It's perfectly obvious what he's building towards. But I appreciate the author's attempt to give a pop science book a literary structure, even if it is humorously fumbled.
Jul 03, 2010 Converse rated it liked it
The author advances the hypothesis that the evolution of true eyes caused the Cambrian explosion of animal diversity about 600 million years ago. Eyes made possible for active predators to evolve. The author posits from molecular evidence that the explosion was the development of diverse hard body parts, in response to evolution of predators.
Dec 04, 2012 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow going, and I'm not familiar with all the varieties of fossils, but the author makes a compelling case that the development of vision/the eye was one of the spurs to evolution in the Cambrian period. Prey, or be preyed upon. There are still species, however, who do not have vision and don't need it in their environment.
Sep 02, 2007 Bria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: creationists
The dude kind of rambles, and has a not-quite-right way of putting things, or often just chooses the wrong word, and he repeats himself a lot because he doesn't trust the general populace to remember things that aren't explained time and time again, but his science is in the right place, so I forgive him.
Peter Macinnis
Mar 31, 2008 Peter Macinnis rated it it was amazing
I bought this because I once worked in the same institution as the author, and was on nodding terms with him. I was delighted to discover that he had written an excellent book, though having heard him present some of his work, I had great hopes . . .
Apr 21, 2007 Kyle rated it really liked it
This book is all about the evolution of the first visual receptors that eventually turned into eyes. The author's theory is that this event triggered the Cambrian Explosion by suddenly giving life an entirely new stimulus to respond and adapt to.
Jan 29, 2008 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This technical but engaging book thoroughly outlines one of the most important stages of evolution of life on Earth. Although the end is easy to predict, as in any good non fiction, the journey brings new light to your understanding.
Jul 03, 2009 Pam rated it it was amazing
Fascinating journey through Pre-Cambrian evolution (one of my favorite time periods) about how the development of the eye may have caused diverse coping strategies to evolve. Loved the line drawings.
an australian zoologist proposes, convincingly, that the cambrian explosion of phyla was the result of the evolution of vision in trilobites. hard bodies evolved in defense and the race was on.
David Evans
May 02, 2010 David Evans rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating read on the Cambrian Explosion. It covers a lot of related science that helps explain how thing work and how conclusions are reached. Very readable.
Niloy Mitra
Dec 08, 2012 Niloy Mitra rated it liked it
Pretty cool facts and very nicely organized. A very plausible explanation of the Cambrian explosion. I enjoyed the various optical systems described with specific examples.
Aug 23, 2008 Matthew rated it really liked it
Great theory and well written.
J.R. Ortiz
May 18, 2012 J.R. Ortiz rated it it was amazing
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