Books on the Cambrian worth buying

by Greg Mayer

Jerry has recently noted a forthcoming book on the Cambrian by the infamous Stephen Meyer. There is a brand new book, The Cambrian Explosion, by the famous Douglas Erwin of the USNM and even more famous James Valentine of UC-Berkeley, that you might want to read if you really want to learn something about this period in the history of life.

Erwin & Valentine The Cambrian Explosion

Just published in January, you can see by the cover it’s got some great art work, and the publisher, Ben Roberts, has made chapter one and more of the art available at their website (after clicking, scroll down for art; it’s cheaper than Amazon there, too).  Another fairly recent book on the Cambrian Explosion covers the very exciting recent discoveries in the Chengjiang of China, The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China by X.-Q. Hou and colleagues.

Hou Cambrian book

The Chengjiang is especially exciting for me, because it has revealed a variety of chordates, which are much less diverse in the previously best known Cambrian locality, the Burgess Shale of British Columbia. There are some older books about the Burgess Shale, including The Fossils of the Burgess Shale, by Derek Briggs and colleagues, with great photos by Chip Clark, and The Burgess Shale by Harry B. Whittington, the late dean of Burgess Shale studies. There are also the more polemical Wonderful Life by Steve Gould, and The Crucible of Creation by Simon Conway Morris.


  1. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Greg!

  2. Griff
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Bought the former a few days ago. Looking forward to reading it.

  3. Marella
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Great! I’ll have to buy at least one, prolly two.

    • Marella
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      I already read Wonderful Life ages ago, and though it has been superseded in many ways, it was a great read and I loved it.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I’ve marked it as to-read on Good Reads. I love the Cambrian Explosion & this looks like a fun read (esp if nicely illustrated). Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  5. RGBowman
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Bought “The Cambrian Explosion” from the publisher last week and it showed up on my doorstep on Friday.

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