A Book Report On A Wonderfull Life

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A Book Report On A Wonderfull Life: An Look At The Burgess Shale, By Stephan Jay Gould Essay, Research Paper Name: Wonderful Life Date: 1989 Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. Pages: 322 (Not including Bibliography and Index) This book written by Stephen Jay Gould is about the concepts of evolution based on the findings in the Burgess Shale that was found in Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada. The organisms that were found here at first by C.D. Walcott in the early 1908-09. At first Walcott placed these organisms into phyla that were present at the time. Years later though two expeditions were released one by the Canadians and one by the Americans the purpose of both was to follow up Walcott s research. In these expeditions the scientists started to

discover that these species didn t belong in the phylum s they had been placed but in fact made up their own phylum s. This is where we are today and this is the setting for this book. First the book talks about what evolution is and the major misconceptions in the evolutionary process in the beginning. It shows at first how evolution is not a ladder but a tree. It brings up how the media always shows the evolution of man in a ladder form one after another after another. This seams to make you think that evolution occurred in a straight line. The problem is it didn t, evolution occurred in a tree shape. Sending branches off in different directions and all the time braking. Not always a straight brake but sometimes one moving a way. All the time though reaching forward towards the

sun. Never retracing its track. Always evolving. This is shown by Stephen Jay Gould by bringing forward some of the media s ways of using the ladder approach. Then explaining why the are wrong. Gould then goes on to how the Burgess Shale was found. It was found by Charles Walcott in 1909. There is some dispute about how and when he found it. Walcott s story says that his donkey tripped on some rocks and kicked them loose. Then after close examination Walcott returned in the last few days of the season and found and extracted most of the known Burgess Shale that we know today. Then he came back the next season and extracted the remaining fossils and examined them all. But after closing looking at Walcott s journal, Gould discovered that this was not the way the Burgess Shale was

found at all. It was found in the way most fossils are found. With no glitter and special circumstances. Just pure science at it s best. Walcott was digging in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada, on a rock that jutted out from the side of a mountain. He cut a chunk away and saw the cross section of a fossil. He realized that it was to late in the season to extract the remaining fossils so he waited patiently till the 1910 season to extract the majority of the Burgess Shale. Walcott returned with his wife and son and excavated the fossils. Then a few friends joined him for the 1911 season. Then when he finished excavating he started to examine thoroughly the items he found. Walcott had found some very interesting fossils that were very odd in nature. Walcott studied them

for many years before writing his first paper on these objects. Walcott placed all these creatures into the same phylum as the current day crab and other crustaceans. Walcott soon published papers on this subject but they weren t that celebrated or look at by many people. To most of these people it was just the discovery of some ancestor of present day horseshoe-crabs. So Walcott went on in life still writing about the Burgess Shale placing them in their proper taxonomy (at least what he thought was proper).These fossils turned out to be something entirely different though as we would see some fifty years later. In 1966 and 1967 two expeditions were sent to reexamine the Burgess Shale. The two expeditions where first one by American scientist Harry Whittington and a few of his