Spying on Whales
The Past, Present and Future of the World's Largest Animals
Whales are among the largest, most intelligent and deepest-diving species to have lived on our planet. Despite humans having both revered and hunted them throughout history, there are still many scientific mysteries associated with them. Palaeontologist Nick Pyenson focuses on what we can learn about their evolutionary history from fossil records and travels the world to explore their current plight and prospects of future survival.
William Boyd Dawkins and the Victorian Science of Cave Hunting
Three Men in a Cavern
Among the first ‘cave hunters’ to work within a scientific framework and recognize the long evolutionary context for humans and animals, William Boyd Dawkins (1837–1929) was a renowned, yet controversial geologist, palaeontologist and archaeologist. Mark White sets out to rekindle interest in Dawkins, tracing his life and career from ‘boyhood to burial’, with accounts of his work at Wookey Hole, the Manchester museum, the 1874 Channel tunnel project and ‘one of Victorian archaeology’s darkest hours’, the Creswell Crags excavations of 1875–79.
A History of Paleontology Illustration
Jane P Davidson brings an art historian’s eye to the development of scientific illustration since the 15th century, focusing on the ways in which artists and paleontologists have collaborated to produce drawings of fossils and reconstructions of prehistoric plants and animals. The author considers how such work is influenced by the desire for detail and accuracy, and asks whether there is an artistic theory or aesthetics of style unique to this type of illustration.
Riddle of the Feathered Dragons
Hidden Birds of China
Recent fossil discoveries in China have been widely hailed as clear evidence that birds had their origins in ‘feathered’ dinosaurs. But Feduccia urges us to be cautious of such hyperbolic claims, which led to ‘the ascendency of a consensus view that has quickly evolved into a dogma’. In this reassessment of the data he critically analyses existing interpretations and methodologies, as well as offering his own theories about the evolution of birds and avian flight.
Uncovering our Earliest Ancestor
'Ida', the most complete primate fossil ever found, was unearthed in Germany in 1982 and has revolutionized our understanding of the human family tree. The Link tells the story of Ida's rediscovery and the detective-work of scientists who have studied her, using the evidence of the surviving 'skin shadow' and stomach contents to create an evocative reconstruction of her life in the Eocene epoch 47 million years ago.