Cover of: Wonderful life | Stephen Jay Gould
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An edition of Wonderful Life (1989)

Wonderful life

the Burgess Shale and the nature of history

1st ed.
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This edition was published in by W.W. Norton in New York.

Written in English

347 pages

What would the world have been like, if George Bailey of "It's A Wonderful Life" hadn't been born?

George was lucky enough to have an angel that could roll back the tape of life and show him how things would have been different. He learned that one contingency changes everything.

In "Wonderful LIfe", an homage to the American classic film, "It's A Wonderful Life", Stephen J. Gould plays the role of the angel, rolling back the tape of life a half billion years for his readers through the lens of the Burgess Shale (British Columbia), arguably the most important fossil site on the planet. His theme of contingency plays out as he discusses the many unique forms of life that might have, if things had gone differently, become the dominant forms on this planet, and how they contrast with those of today -- the one's that survived. Along the way he tells the story of the discovery and discovers of the Shale, how it was first interpreted in terms of prevalent beliefs about the origins of life, and how it has subsequently been re-interpreted in light of knowledge.

So enjoy the "film", but be sure to bring along a cup of coffee and a dictionary -- with Gould's intense writing style you're likely to need both!

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Previews available in: English

Edition Availability
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life
August 3, 2000, Vintage
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life
August 3, 2000, Vintage
Paperback - New Ed edition
Cover of: Wonderful life
Wonderful life: the Burgess shale and the nature of history
1991, Penguin
in English
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
September 1, 1990, W. W. Norton
in English
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale And The Nature Of History
August 1, 1990, Books on Tape, Inc.
Audio cassette
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
1990, Radius
Hardcover
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
1990, Radius
Cover of: Wonderful life
Wonderful life: the Burgess Shale and the nature of history
1990, Hutchinson Radius
in English
Cover of: Wonderful life.
Wonderful life.
1989, W. W. Norton
in English
Cover of: Wonderful life
Wonderful life: the Burgess Shale and the nature of history
1989, W.W. Norton
in English - 1st ed.
Cover of: Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale
January 1989, Books on Tape
Audio cassette in English
Cover of: Wonderful life
Wonderful life: the Burgess Shale and the nature of history
Publish date unknown, W.W. Norton
- 1st ed.

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Wonderful Life

First published in 1989



Work Description

What would the world have been like, if George Bailey of "It's A Wonderful Life" hadn't been born?

George was lucky enough to have an angel that could roll back the tape of life and show him how things would have been different. He learned that one contingency changes everything.

In "Wonderful LIfe", an homage to the American classic film, "It's A Wonderful Life", Stephen J. Gould plays the role of the angel, rolling back the tape of life a half billion years for his readers through the lens of the Burgess Shale (British Columbia), arguably the most important fossil site on the planet. His theme of contingency plays out as he discusses the many unique forms of life that might have, if things had gone differently, become the dominant forms on this planet, and how they contrast with those of today -- the one's that survived. Along the way he tells the story of the discovery and discovers of the Shale, how it was first interpreted in terms of prevalent beliefs about the origins of life, and how it has subsequently been re-interpreted in light of knowledge.

So enjoy the "film", but be sure to bring along a cup of coffee and a dictionary -- with Gould's intense writing style you're likely to need both!

Wonderful life

the Burgess Shale and the nature of history

1st ed.

This edition was published in by W.W. Norton in New York.


Edition Notes

Bibliography: p. 325-335.
Includes index.

CONTENTS:

A prologue in pictures -- The ladder and the cone : iconographies of progress -- Replaying life's tape : the crucial experiment -- Inset : the meanings of diversity and disparity -- Life before the Burgess : the Cambrian explosion and the origin of animals -- Life after the Burgess : soft-bodied faunas as windows into the past -- The setting of the Burgess Shale -- A quiet revolution -- A methodology of research -- The chronology of a transformation -- Inset : taxonomy and the status of phyla -- Inset : the classification and anatomy of arthropods -- Act 1. Marrella and Yohoia : the dawning and consolidation of suspicion, 1971 - 1974 -- Act 2. A new view takes hold : homage to opabinia, 1975 -- Act 3. The revision expands : the success of a research team, 1975 - 1978 -- Completion and codification of an argument : naraoia and aysheaia, 1977 - 1978 -- Act 5. The maturation of a research program : life after aysheaia, 1979 - doomsday (there are no final answers) -- Coda -- Summary statement on the bestiary of the Burgess Shale -- The Burgess Shale as a Cambrian generality -- The two great problems of the Burgess Shale -- The basis for Walcott’s allegiance to the cone of diversity -- The Burgess Shale and the nature of history -- Inset : a plea for the high status of natural history -- A story of alternatives -- General patterns that illustrate contingency -- Seven possible worlds -- An epilogue on PIKAIA.

Classifications

Dewey Decimal Class
560/.9
Library of Congress
QE770 .G67 1989

The Physical Object

Pagination
347 p. :
Number of pages
347

ID Numbers

Open Library
OL2058366M
Internet Archive
wonderfullifebur00goul
ISBN 10
0393027058
LC Control Number
88037469
Library Thing
9947
Goodreads
1552518

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History

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May 16, 2020 Edited by CoverBot Added new cover
August 12, 2011 Edited by ImportBot add ia_box_id to scanned books
August 25, 2010 Edited by ImportBot Found a matching record from Internet Archive .
July 31, 2010 Edited by IdentifierBot added LibraryThing ID
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user Imported from Scriblio MARC record.