On Methuselah’s Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions
From Library Journal
Living fossils are species that have survived nearly unchanged since prehistoric times. For scientists they are a window to the past. Ward, an expert on the nautilus, tells us a fascinating story of scientific discovery through a combination of personal narratives and examples of how the study of living creatures helps to interpret the fossil record. Some of the episodes are even dramatic, like the discovery of the lobe-finned coelacanth that had been thought to be extinct also recounted in Keith Stewart Thomson’s Living Fossil , LJ 5/15/91, or Ward’s struggle to save a living nautilus for an aquarium. In Wonderful Life ( LJ 9/1/89), Stephen Jay Gould made the point that it is impossible to guess from fossils alone which creatures would survive to the present and which would become extinct. The study of "Methuselahs" such as brachiopods or horseshoe crabs shows how different sets of circumstances allowed a few species to endure. Good, entertaining popular science.
– Amy Brunvand, Fort Lewis Coll. Lib., Durango, Col.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Charming, April 8, 1999
Peter Ward is one of the best writers in this genre – personally I rate him with Wilson, Dawkins and Gould – at least when it comes to the art of telling a good story, creating a good picture.
"On Methuselah’s Trail" is one of the best books I have read about fossils and evolution. Not revolutionary, challenging or very complicated – just well written, charming, and – most important – it makes you want go right out in the bush to look for your own fossils!
A Wonderful Book!, September 5, 2000
I wish this book had been around when I was in high school because it brought the field of science in general, and geology/biology in particular, alive for the first time. I honestly looked at my natural surroundings differently after reading it. I have also purchased and enjoyed the hard cover copies of Professor Ward’s other two books. Some of the passages he writes especially with regard to bringing you back in time give you shivers.