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“The Blink of an Eye” Cambrian Explosion Biological “Big Bang” Vision Evolution

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Seller: ancientgifts (4,351) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 381838003358 Click here to see 1,000 archaeology/ancient history books and 2,000 ancient artifacts, antique gemstones, antique jewelry! In The Blink of an Eye by Andrew Parker. DESCRIPTION: Hardback with Dust Jacket: 316 pages. Publisher: Perseus Publishing; (2003). Half a billion years ago, after a long, dark era, there was a sudden and great flourishing of life. The reasons baffled even Darwin, and every attempt to explain it since has failed; until now. H.G. Wells’s famous dictum, “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”, tells us something that may seem self-evident: sight matters. But imagine for a moment that the country of the blind is in fact the whole world, 550 million years ago. It’s a world where life is primitive and aimless, and evolution slow and painstaking. Then something remarkable happens. Over the next five million years the process of evolution kicks into overdrive. Both hunters and prey develop armaments and defenses. And in this short space of time, “in the blink of an eye” in geological times, the number of different classifications of animals, “phyla”, mushrooms from three to thirty-eight, the number we still have today. The “when” and the “what” of this extraordinary event, known as the “Cambrian Explosion”, have been known for some time, and were made famous by Stephen Jay Gould’s bestselling book, “Wonderful Life”. What has, until now, been speculation is the “why”. Why did this “big bang” of biology happen when it did. What caused it? Here for the first time Oxford Zoologist Andrew Parker reveals his theory of this great flourishing of life. Parker’s astounding explanation if that it was the development of vision in primitive animals that caused the explosion. Precambrian creatures were unable to see, making it difficult to see friend or foe. With the evolution of the eye, the size, shape, color, and behavior of ani8mals was suddenly revealed. Once the lights were “turned on”, there was enormous pressure to evolve hard external parts as defenses and clasping limbs to grab prey. The animal kingdom exploded into life, and the country of the blind became a teeming mass of hunters and hunted, all scrambling for their place on the evolutionary tree. CONDITION: NEW. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Satisfaction guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR SAMPLE PAGES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEW: REVIEW: An accomplished young scientist solves one of the greatest mysteries of evolution: What caused the dramatic explosion of life half a billion years ago? About 550 million years ago, there was literally an explosion of life forms, as all the major animal groups suddenly and dramatically appeared. Although several books have been written about this surprising event, known as the Cambrian explosion, none has explained why it occurred. Indeed, none was able to. Here, for the first time, Oxford zoologist Andrew Parker reveals his theory of this great flourishing of life. Parker's controversial but increasingly accepted "Light Switch Theory" holds that it was the development of vision in primitive animals that caused the explosion. Drawing on evidence not just from biology, but also from geology, physics, chemistry, history, and art. “In the Blink of an Eye” is the fascinating account of a young scientist's intellectual journey, and a celebration of the scientific method. Andrew Parker received his Ph.D. from Macquarie University in Sydney while working in marine biology for the Australian Museum. He became a Royal Society Research Fellow at Oxford University's Department of Zoology in 1999, and is a Research Fellow of Summerville College (Oxford) and a Research Associate of the Australian Museum and University of Sydney. He has published numerous scientific papers on topics as diverse as optics in nature, biometrics, and evolution. He has been named by the “London Times” as one of the three most important young scientists in the world for his work in investigating and answering the great riddle of the Cambrian explosion. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: Oxford University zoologist Parker tackles one of biology's biggest mysteries in this non-technical account. He provides a relatively simple explanation for the sudden explosion of life forms that defines the boundary between the pre-Cambrian and Cambrian eras approximately 543 million years ago: "The Cambrian explosion was triggered by the sudden evolution of vision" in simple organisms. In Parker's "Light Switch" theory, active predation became possible with the advent of vision, and prey species found themselves under extreme pressure to adapt in ways that would make them less likely to be spotted. New habitats opened as organisms were able to see their environment for the first time, and an enormous amount of specialization occurred as species differentiated. Parker claims that his theory is far more robust than previous attempts to explain the surge in diversity, even those most recently advanced by proponents of a snowball earth (the theory presented by Gabrielle Walker in Snowball Earth). In readable prose, Parker provides detailed information on the fossil record as well as a wealth of interesting material on the role light plays in environments and how vision operates across a host of species. Photos and line drawings. REVIEW: The cause of the sudden appearance of major life-forms 540 million years ago, known as the Cambrian explosion, has been paleontology's biggest mystery and, next to the disappearance of the dinosaurs, it is most fascinating to onlookers outside the science. Within the discipline, a new solution to the enigma has been boldly advanced, offered here in popular form by its expositor. Oxford zoologist Parker proceeds methodically, explaining, for example, what a phylum is, a point crucial to his theory because, contrary to popular perception, most phyla existed before the Cambrian explosion, he maintains. He believes that explaining the explosion means explaining the evolutionary advantages of organisms' external appearances, as discussed in the aptly titled “Wonderful Life” by Stephen Jay Gould. Building on Gould, Parker also revisits the celebrated Burgess Shale central to that book, emphasizing the evolution of the eye in terms of its ability to detect light. Something fundamental changed in the earthly intensity of light and then in prey-predator dynamics, avers Parker, whose clarity will thrill science fans, as will his revolutionary theory. REVIEW: The Cambrian Explosion was one of the great mysteries of evolution. The sudden proliferation of life forms 550 million years ago baffled even Darwin, who, in “The Origin of Species”, admitted that such rapid diversification presented a valid argument against his theory. But now, a century and a half later, 34-year-old Oxford University researcher Andrew Parker advances a new explanation of the Cambrian Explosion so compelling that many prominent scientists have accepted its plausibility. Parker contends that it was the development of sight in animals that caused biology's Big Bang. His account of how he solved the problem of the origin of biodiversity unfolds with the excitement of a topnotch whodunit. REVIEW: The Cambrian Period saw the first proliferation of complex life on earth. Parker presents the fascinating argument that the development of vision triggered “evolution’s big bang”. Parker’s conclusion, that the presence of eyes indicates the evolution of an active hunting lifestyle among Cambrian creatures is both convincing and surprisingly fresh. REVIEW: Andrew Parker, an Oxford University zoologist, presents a broad audience treatment of his intriguing theory of vision as the on-switch for the Cambrian explosion in evolution. He assembles his intriguing argument like a meticulous zoological barrister, in the same manner as Charles Darwin. Parker makes a compelling case. It's a neat theory. I don't think you can find a more reader-friendly introduction to evolutionary biology. REVIEW: We do have a well-written book, containing much really interesting science and a good strong hypothesis that will surely stimulate others to praise, to criticize and try to refine or replace. Parker's central argument certainly deserves careful attention, especially as it aims to provide a unique and hitherto unrecognized solution to one of evolution's most significant conundrums. A brilliant and eminently readable evolutionary detective tale. Parker's energy and intelligence are undeniable. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: There have been living creatures on Earth for about four billion years, but most of that time they were blind. Most of that time, also, they were very simple (single cell animals, sponges, and soft-bodied animals). The famous Cambrian explosion was the sudden boom in animal diversity that happened between 543 and 538 million years ago. It is when teeth and armor appeared. It is also when eyes appeared. It is easy for us to imagine the drama of, say, the destruction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but according to Andrew Parker the Cambrian explosion is "the most dramatic event in the history of life". Other dramatic events have their explanations (an asteroid wiping out the dinosaurs, for instance), but there has not been a satisfactory explanation of the Cambrian boom. Until now, according to Parker, and he has come up with it. “In the Blink of an Eye” is a convincing explanation that he first announced seven years ago: the Cambrian explosion was caused by the evolution of vision. What happened in the explosion is that animals acquired armor, hard body parts, and a huge variety of different shapes. Parker explains that the shapes and armor came along because eyes came along. In the blind pre-Cambrian world, creatures took in sensation by smell, taste, sound, or touch. It did not matter what the creatures looked like, because no other creature could see them. It didn't matter if creatures had no armor, because predators weren't chasing them. Creatures scavenged upon dead animals, but did not need claws or jaws to catch those; catching prey was unlikely for a creature that was blind, so predation was not the rule. And then there was light! Parker thinks that a soft-bodied ancestor of the trilobite was the first creature to get a light sensitive patch that eventually differentiated into different units of an eye. The trilobite that could gradually see better could gradually become a better predator. Not only does vision power a diversity of the trilobite itself, into such skills as agility and efficient use of muscular propulsion, it powers changes in prey. In the dark, an animal has no need to care what it looks like. Pursued by creatures that can see, an animal has many avenues of change that it might follow, like making camouflage, developing its own armor, swimming faster, growing bigger, or gaining its own eyesight. And then the predators can become modified to overcome those tactics, and the familiar evolutionary battle is enjoined in earnest. Vision started diversity, and has powered it ever since. Parker's book is a rich account of how he came to these conclusions, with a wide-ranging gathering of supportive evidence. He writes clearly, and with a witty understatement. When, for example, he describes examining seed-shrimps and dissecting them under the microscope, he says, "the seed-shrimps tend to roll around and fall in exactly the positions that are not required of them". Any scientific theory is open to question, and surely the very simplicity of Parker's explanation will make it a target for other theorizers with new data. Right now, though, in considering the Cambrian explosion, the “Light Switch Theory” is the way to see things. REVIEW: What triggered the Cambrian Explosion? Starting around 543 million years ago, there was a 10-million year period (give or take 5 million years) in which the number of phyla on this planet went from three to thirty-eight. After that, no new phyla appeared. Something dramatic happened during that time period, but why? There was also a major evolution of external body parts in all phyla at that time, but what caused all this? There are some explanations that have been taken seriously for the Cambrian explosion, and Parker reviews a number of them. The first is that the Cambrian was just a great time for rapid evolution. But there is evidence from embryos of non-skeletal animals that indicates that the Cambrian was probably not a particularly hospitable time after all. The second group of explanations that Parker deals with attempt to cover not only the Cambrian explosion itself, but the Precambrian changes in internal body plans. But Parker wants to know what caused the explosion itself, and feels strongly that the Precambrian changes are not an integral part of this. The third explanation is that the physical environment changed significantly at the start of the Cambrian. That means changes in, say, oxygen, carbon dioxide, or phosphorus levels. But these levels changed at plenty of times, and the start of the Cambrian doesn't appear to be all that special. A fourth explanation is that shallow-water continental shelf areas increased at the start of the Cambrian. A fifth is that there was a "Snowball Earth" that ended just prior to the Cambrian. A sixth is that collagen was acquired by animals during the Cambrian. A seventh deals with the generation of new niches: perhaps the increased availability of free-swimming plants could create a new niche. An eighth deals not with niches, but with all feeding modes. Yes, one or more of these explanations may be pretty close. But they don't satisfy Parker, and he has an explanation that makes plenty of sense, namely that around 543 million years ago, there was a sudden development of sight among animals. That means eyes, and brains to interpret the light that reaches those eyes. By the way, one of the early species to acquire eyes may have been the box jellyfish, which has no brain! But the trilobites are the creatures that Parker dwells on: they originated at the start of the Cambrian, and they appear to have had eyes (and brains) at that time. The book covers plenty about what eyes are, what different sorts of eyes there are, how eyes evolved, and what eyes are used for. As an example, rabbits have eyes on each side of their heads. A reason is that they spend plenty of energy to avoid getting eaten. That means they want as close to 360-degree vision as they can get, since they intend to run away at top speed towards safety if they see a predator (and keep running for their lives if the predator chases them). That is a cost-effective idea! On the other hand, foxes spend more of their energy chasing potential food. They don't need 360-degree vision for this, so they have eyes in front, where they can be used to provide depth perception. That lets them judge the distances to possible prey and saves them from costly futile chases. It doesn't take much imagination to, um, see that the introduction of vision could lead to a huge evolutionary explosion, as species developed armor, camouflage, and more defenses against suddenly non-blind predators. So this is indeed an interesting hypothesis. A critical issue is just how long it would take for working eyes to evolve from simple patches of light-sensitive cells (sandwiched between a transparent protective layer and a layer of dark pigment). But as the author explains, a paper by Dan-Eric Nilsson and Susanne Pelger shows that a few hundred thousand years should be ample time to accomplish all this. Vision could indeed have arisen in an evolutionary blink of an eye. And that may well have led to the Cambrian explosion. At the end of the book, Parker considers possible triggers for the evolution of eyes, such as increases in the available light reaching the Earth's surface. I think these areas are worth pursuing as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I recommend it. REVIEW: Biologist Andrew Parker's "In the Blink of an Eye", is a spirited, provocative statement of his "Light Switch" theory accounting for the dramatic burst in the evolution of metazoans (multicellular animal life) at the dawn of the Cambrian Period of the Paleozoic Era, approximately 543 million years ago. He makes a very persuasive case that it was the evolution of eyesight in metazoans which triggered a rapid adaptive radiation of metazoans, though confined mostly to arthropods (living representatives include shrimp, crabs, lobsters, spiders, and insects, to name but a few) as seen most impressively in the celebrated "Burgess Shale" fauna from approximately 515 million years ago. Parker opens the book with a discussion of the Cambrian explosion and the nature of fossilization itself. Next he turns to the physics of light, and discusses how living animals use light not only for nourishment, but also as a means of defense, including, but not exclusively, mimicry to avoid detection by potential predators and prey. He also describes how sight has been lost by cave-dwelling animals, and the evolution of bioluminesence in deep sea creatures. Surprisingly, this leads next to exploring the possibility that Cambrian creatures were colorful, dressed in vibrant hues of many colors, which were quite visible in the shallow seas of the Burgess Shale fauna. The final chapters describe the evolution of sight in metazoans, and Parker alleges that a primitive ancestral trilobite has been discovered in the uppermost occurrence of the Ediacaran (latest Precambrian) fauna with a pair of crude eyes. So why was sight necessary? Parker states that it arose as the direct consequence of some animals becoming active predators, the earliest trilobites, and this, in turn, triggered an evolutionary arms race in the development of body armor to defend from predation; which we see in the fossil record as the "Cambrian explosion". Parker has made an elegant, persuasive case on behalf of his "Light Switch" theory to account for the Cambrian explosion. It is the most consistently logical explanation I have come across, supported amply by the evidence he has presented in this book. I recommend this book to anyone interested in paleobiology, or in general with evolution; especially those fascinated with the Cambrian explosion. Much to his credit, Parker has written a compelling tome which comes close to the literary eloquence attained by the likes of Stephen Jay Gould, Ernst Mayr and George Gaylord Simpson. REVIEW: Parker's book was extremely interesting. As a geologist, I was delighted to find a book that was not completely bogged down with scientific terminology, so that I could pass this book on to my friends and family and share my interest. For someone who is not a geologist or biologist, a few of the terms may be a bit heavy. However, I believe for any science, paleontology or geology geek, this book is a must-read. The exploration of the Cambrian life forms is fascinating. The chapter on eyes alone is amazingly informative and very interesting. The reader will be swept away by Parker's enthusiasm and honesty. Especially enjoyable were his description of the male seed shrimp's attempts to court a female, and the descriptions of the predators and prey of the Cambrian. I have become enamored of Trilobites after reading this book, creatures I had previously not given a lot of thought. I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site and free insurance coverage). A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher. Most international orders cost an additional $12.99 to $33.99 for an insuredshipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs). Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE." TRANSLATE Arabic Chinese French German Greek Indonesian Italian Hindi Japanese Korean Swedish Portuguese Russian Spanish

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