High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago. Called the Burgess Shale, it holds the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived - a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in incredible detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale might tell us about evolution and the nature of history. The Darwinian theory of evolution is a well-known, well-explored area. But there is one aspect of human life which this theory of evolution fails to account for: chance. Using the brilliantly preserved fossil fauna of the Burgess Shale as his case study, Gould argues that chance was in fact one of the decisive factors in the evolution of life on this planet, and that, with a flip of coin, everything could have been very different indeed.
"A masterpiece of analysis and imagination...It centres on a sensational discovery in the field of palaeontology - the existence, in the Burgess Shale... of 530-million-year-old fossils unique in age, preservation and diversity...With skill and passion, Gould takes this mute collection of fossils and makes them speak to us. The result challenges some of our most cherished self-perceptions and urges a fundamental re-assessment of our place in the history of life on earth" Sunday Times
Stephen J. Gould, geb. 1941 in New York, wurde mit 26 ordentlicher Professor an der Harvard University, wo er Geologie und Zoologie lehrte. Er gilt in den USA als der am meisten gelesene Naturwissenschaftler. Sein Hauptwerk wird mit Darwins 'Origin of Species' verglichen. Stephen J. Gould starb am 20. Mai 2002. In Deutschland ist er durch zahlreiche Veröffenlichungen bekannt.