Morris, Simon Conway | The Crucible of Creation. The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals.
First edition, first impression and a very attractive copy.
This volume by leading palaeobiologist Simon Conway Morris describes the discovery and interpretation of fossils from the famed Burgess Shale in Canada, which dates from the Cambrian period 545 million years ago. Prior to this time most living things were loosely organised colonies of single-celled organisms, but the Cambrian saw a dramatic increase in diversity, with the evolution of many new body types and survival strategies. The majority of animal and plant body plans we know today evolved during the Cambrian, and this time period has been a source of mystery and scientific debate since the early 19th century. The Burgess Shale is a rich source of Cambrian fossils, most so well preserved that the soft parts of the animals can be studied, providing important insights into the evolution of life.
Morris played a key role in interpreting the Burgess Shale fossils, and in this volume he gives his perspective on the scholarly debate surrounding them, including what he argues are crucial errors in Stephen Jay Gould's famous book on the fossils, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Octavo. Original black cloth, titles to spine in silver. With the dust jacket. 2 double-sided colour plates, illustrations throughout the text. Jacket very lightly rubbed, with a contemporary ISBN sticker to the lower panel. An excellent copy.