the Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind
by Richard Fortey
This book by a paleontologist (who also wrote Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution– a book my husband happens to love) is all about various living things- animals, plants, bacteria, etc- that still exist on earth today since prehistoric times, the \”living fossils\” so to speak. In most examples, the author travelled to view each creature in person, and described the experience (including a lot of details on locations). A few he was unable to access, and had to describe others\’ observations of them. Included are the titular horseshoe crabs and velvet worms (which I knew very little of before), the coelacanth, lampreys, Lingula brachiopods, nautilus, ginkgo trees, horsetails and liverworts, the lungfish, cycads, monkey puzzle trees and crazy welwitschia. There\’s echidnas and platypus, sea sponges and jellyfishes, crocodilians and the tuatara. Many other creatures deemed primitive or very very long-lasting, and mindboggling hosts of tiny things like bacteria that can live in extreme conditions. Oh, and stromatolites, which I never heard of before. A lot of the book is about the tiny things, as they comprise the largest mass in terms of numbers, and have lasted the longest. So sometimes I got bored, or it made my head hurt, to read what felt rather like a biology textbook. It wanders a bit but always comes back to the point. I certainly learned a lot, and much was put in perspective for me. Certainly a hefty respect for those living things that have been here doing their thing for countless centuries. Like magnolia trees. Did you know magnolia trees have been around since the Cretaceous? Wow.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/4 332 pages, 2011