Wonderful life the burgess shale and the nature of history is a 1989 book on the evolution of cambrian fauna by harvard paleontologist stephen jay gould the volume made the new york times best seller list was the 1991 winner of the royal societys rhone poulenc prize the american historical associations forkosch award and was a 1991 finalist for the pulitzer prize gould described his later book full house as a companion volume to wonderful life. Wonderful life the burgess shale and the nature of history ulderico torella the burgess shale of british columbia contains thousands of well preserved fossils of soft bodied invertebrates which give us a rare look at organs and organisms that do not usually fossilize. Wonderful life gives us the story of the reevaluation of the burgess fauna that revealed them to be animals utterly different from anything alive today gould gives a fascinating biography of charles d walcott administrator extraordinaire who discovered the burgess shale and classified all its animals into existing phyla. The burgess shale is a fossil deposit of importance equal to that of the rift valley sites of east africa in that it provides truly pivotal evidence for the story of life on earth the shale comes from a small quarry in the canadian rockies discovered in the early 20th century by charles walcott then a leading figure at the smithsonian. Wonderful life the burgess shale and the nature of history by stephen jay gould new york ww norton 1989 347 pp 1995 cloth
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