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.
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.
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.