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Neptune's Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


Neptune's Ark illuminates the dramatic saga of evolution spanning 500 million years of marine life along the magnificent Pacific coast of western North America. In an engaging narrative that artfully blends elements of science, history, folklore, and personal observation, renowned naturalist David Rains Wallace reveals a marvelous diversity of creatures, not only modern ones, but those from the far prehistoric past. Mysterious forms have abounded: from giant sea cows, oyster bears, and flightless toothed birds to the orcas, elephant seals, and sea otters of modern times. Wallace tells a story about evolution as well as a tale of the storms, scurvy, and shipwrecks that plagued the coast's explorers, naturalists, and scientists, many of whom led turbulent or tragic lives, with themes reflected in the wonder and danger of the coast itself. Neptune's Ark is full of vivid characters; from explorers like Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Cook, to pioneer naturalists including Georg Steller and Charles Scammon, to early paleontologists Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, and to recent scientists and ecological visionaries.

Review:

"Author and naturalist Wallace follows up Beasts of Eden, which tackled mammalian evolution, with this in-depth look at the evolution of marine tetrapods (four-limbed creatures), from the earliest proto-reptilians through present-day seals, whales and walruses. Using Georg Wilhelm Steller's still-unidentified 1741 discovery of a 'very unusual and new animal' as a symbol for all we don't know about marine life, Wallace delves into a shrouded living environment that has likely hidden many more species than paleontologists will ever uncover. Unfortunately, the most interesting parts of the book-concerning the 18th, 19th and 20th century trailblazers in the field-are marred by Wallace's inability to keep himself out of the narrative (at one point, he describes a dream he had). Later chapters explore the attempts of eccentric John Lilly to communicate with dolphins and whales, the first migration of humans to the Americas, animal myths of Northwest Coast Natives and the destructive influence of Europeans. Though Wallace's voice can grate and the text gets bogged down in difficult-to-follow taxonomy discussions (a glossary would have been of immense help), those with a grounding in biology or science history will find Wallace's fascinating vignettes worth the effort." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

"Neptune's Ark takes us on a voyage of discovery into the world of the enigmatic creatures who evolved in the ocean and the intrepid individuals who study them. In this moving and majestic book, David Rains Wallace navigates the mythic dimensions of humans' and animals' ancient, ambiguous relationship with the sea."—Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans

"In the pageant of creation, Earth's seas have always hosted the greatest part of the show. Wallace brings to life a spectacular array of marine organisms ancient and new, tiny and titanic, renowned and obscure-and some almost unimaginably weird-and illuminates often surprising connections between them. Have you ever wondered where modern sea lions come from? Or penguins? Pelicans? Manatees? Great whales? The answers, in Neptune's Ark, take your mind on a voyage through millions of years of natural history. Enjoy the swim."—Douglas Chadwick, author of The Grandest of Lives

"Neptune's Ark delivers not only a riveting history of paleontology and the origins of marine mammalogy on the west coast-from Cope and Emlong to Steller and Scammon-but also a heartfelt tribute to the great creatures they all pursued so avidly."—Dick Russell, author of Eye of the Whale

"Wallace writes fascinating accounts of the astounding menagerie of animals that once inhabited the waters of the west coast, from giant toothed birds, oyster bears, and the enigmatic Desmostylus, to enormous saber-toothed salmon. Paired with Ken Kirkland's exquisitely rendered and life-like drawings, this book is hard to put down."—Ray Troll, author of Rapture of the Deep

About the Author

David Rains Wallace is the author of sixteen books, including Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other Enigmas of Mammal Evolution (UC Press), A New York Times Notable Book; The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, UC Press), winner of the John Burroughs Medal; The Bonehunter's Revenge: Dinosaurs, Greed, and the Greatest Scientific Feud of the Gilded Age; and The Monkey's Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America, A New York Times Notable Book.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Prologue. Stellers Sea Ape

1 / Reefs in the Desert

2 / Amphibious Ambiguities

3 / Bird Teeth and Reptile Necks

4 / Tail Tales

5 / Copes Elusive Ophidians

6 / Hooves into Flippers

7 / Marshs Deceptive Desmostylians

8 / Emlongs Whale

9 / Paws into Flippers

10 / Sea Cows and Oyster Bears

11 / The Long, Warm Summer

12 / Emptying Bays

13 / Punctuated Pinnipeds and Darwinian Sirenians

14 / Advent of Autumn

15 / Ice Age Invasions

16 / Hands into Paddles

17 / Pileated Woodpeckers Boat

18 / The End of the Earth

19 / An Industrial Interlude

20 / Intimations of Communication

Epilogue. The Old Man of the Sea

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520243224
Subtitle:
From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas
Author:
Wallace, David Rains
Illustrator:
Kirkland, Ken
Author:
Wallace, David
Author:
Kirkland, Ken
Publisher:
University of California Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Vertebrates
Subject:
Paleontology
Subject:
Marine Life
Subject:
Vertebrates - Pacific Coast (U.S.) - History
Subject:
Marine animals - Pacific Coast (U.S.) -
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Geology-Paleontology
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
May 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
25 line illustrations
Pages:
313
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.88 in 1.07 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Geology » Paleontology
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Ocean and Marine Biology
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » Aquatic Life

Neptune's Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas New Half Linen
0 stars - 0 reviews
$38.09 In Stock
Product details 313 pages University of California Press - English 9780520243224 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Author and naturalist Wallace follows up Beasts of Eden, which tackled mammalian evolution, with this in-depth look at the evolution of marine tetrapods (four-limbed creatures), from the earliest proto-reptilians through present-day seals, whales and walruses. Using Georg Wilhelm Steller's still-unidentified 1741 discovery of a 'very unusual and new animal' as a symbol for all we don't know about marine life, Wallace delves into a shrouded living environment that has likely hidden many more species than paleontologists will ever uncover. Unfortunately, the most interesting parts of the book-concerning the 18th, 19th and 20th century trailblazers in the field-are marred by Wallace's inability to keep himself out of the narrative (at one point, he describes a dream he had). Later chapters explore the attempts of eccentric John Lilly to communicate with dolphins and whales, the first migration of humans to the Americas, animal myths of Northwest Coast Natives and the destructive influence of Europeans. Though Wallace's voice can grate and the text gets bogged down in difficult-to-follow taxonomy discussions (a glossary would have been of immense help), those with a grounding in biology or science history will find Wallace's fascinating vignettes worth the effort." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
"Neptune's Ark takes us on a voyage of discovery into the world of the enigmatic creatures who evolved in the ocean and the intrepid individuals who study them. In this moving and majestic book, David Rains Wallace navigates the mythic dimensions of humans' and animals' ancient, ambiguous relationship with the sea."—Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans

"In the pageant of creation, Earth's seas have always hosted the greatest part of the show. Wallace brings to life a spectacular array of marine organisms ancient and new, tiny and titanic, renowned and obscure-and some almost unimaginably weird-and illuminates often surprising connections between them. Have you ever wondered where modern sea lions come from? Or penguins? Pelicans? Manatees? Great whales? The answers, in Neptune's Ark, take your mind on a voyage through millions of years of natural history. Enjoy the swim."—Douglas Chadwick, author of The Grandest of Lives

"Neptune's Ark delivers not only a riveting history of paleontology and the origins of marine mammalogy on the west coast-from Cope and Emlong to Steller and Scammon-but also a heartfelt tribute to the great creatures they all pursued so avidly."—Dick Russell, author of Eye of the Whale

"Wallace writes fascinating accounts of the astounding menagerie of animals that once inhabited the waters of the west coast, from giant toothed birds, oyster bears, and the enigmatic Desmostylus, to enormous saber-toothed salmon. Paired with Ken Kirkland's exquisitely rendered and life-like drawings, this book is hard to put down."—Ray Troll, author of Rapture of the Deep

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