I've been disappointed by Richard Fortey's book before, I felt that both Life: An Unauthorised Biography (which bizarrely I don't seem to have reviewed) and Earth An Intimate History (which I reviewd here) tried to cover too much ground and ended up being unsatisfying reads.
However, despite this and the fact that on his otherwise interesting TV programme on prehistoric animals he seemed almost obsessed with eating the nearest relative of every extinct creature, I do have a lot of respect for Fortey as a scientist. Given also that Trilobites are his specialism I expected great things from this book. And I was not disappointed.
Trilobite! is a wonderfully engaging, fascinating and beautifully illustrated history of that mysterious and incredibly varied prehistoric group of animals that were the dominant type of life on earth for roughly six times as long as the reign of the dinosaurs.
Fortey is not just interested in Trilobites for their own sakes either (though he fills us in on fascinating details about their natural history and habits) but is interested too in what they can tell us about the prehistoric earth and the movement of the continents and the evolution of life in general. He also muses on the creativity involved in paleontology and the false split that many see between science and arts, he suggests for example that trilobites offer great inspiration for poetry.
Even his insistence on finding and eating a horseshoe crab (the closest living relative to the trilobites) couldn't put me off this brilliant book.
Trilobite! by Richard Fortey published by Flamingo (part of Harper Collins)
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