Cambrian Ocean World, aimed at the general reader, presents life and times of the amazing animals that inhabited Earth more than 500 million years ago. The Cambrian Period was a critical time in Earth's history during this immense span of time nearly every modern group of animals appeared. Although life had been around for more than 2 million millennia, Cambrian rocks preserve the record of the first appearance of complex animals with eyes, protective skeletons, antennae, and complex ecologies. Grazing, predation, and multi-tiered ecosystems with animals living in, on, or above the sea floor became common.
The cascade of interaction led to an ever-increasing diversification of animal body types. By the end of the period, the ancestors of sponges, corals, jellyfish, worms, mollusks, brachiopods, arthropods, echinoderms, and vertebrates were all in place. The evidence of this Cambrian "explosion" is preserved in rocks all over the world, including North America, where the seemingly strange animals of the period are preserved in exquisite detail in deposits such as the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. Cambrian Ocean World tells the story of what is, for us, the most important period in our planet's long history.
"In Cambrian Ocean World, John Foster demonstrates how some of the most challenging and significant questions about the early diversification of animal life in the sea can be addressed by the extensive fossil and rock record of the Cambrian Period found across North America. Written in a style that will engage both lay readers as well as researchers, this profusely illustrated and thoroughly researched book is an up-to-date and comprehensive exploration of one of the most critical periods in evolutionary history."
– David L. Meyer, coauthor of A Sea without Fish
"A must have for anyone with an interest in the fossils from this time period."
– Birdbooker Report
"The Cambrian is passionately profiled in Cambrian Ocean World, part of the Life of the Past series. Foster [...] has spent several decades collecting Cambrian fossils in the western US. His book is both a comprehensive guide to the evolution of life during the Cambrian and a narrative of his experiences hunting for the world's oldest animal fossils. The ten chapters follow the evolution of animals, ecosystems, and environments during the Cambrian, beginning with an alien world and culminating in an ocean realm that seems familiar, with sponges, mollusks, corals, and fish. The book is richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs of fossils Foster has collected, and short profiles of paleontologists provide a personal touch [...] Highly recommended."
"Based on a chronological transect of the Cambrian and the Cambrian radiation, and bringing in expert knowledge from researchers around the globe, Foster revels in details and thereby exposes his most profound interest – and love – of past life and palaeontology. The result is a staggering 432 pages of delight – containing a lot of information, combined with many beautiful illustrations and figures [...] This volume leaves you with a lasting impression and is, in my opinion, at present [...] definitely the best introductory textbook within its field. It is clearly worth reading."
– Deposits Magazine
1. Natural Mystic: An Introduction to the Cambrian
2. Into The Heart: Cambrian Geology
3. A Long Strange Trip: The First 4000 Million Years of Earth History
4. Welcome To The Boomtown: The Early Cambrian Seas
5. On Top Of The World: The Middle Cambrian Begins
6. Magical Mystery Tour: The Biological Psychedelia of the Burgess Shale
7. Glory Days: The Later Middle Cambrian
8. Taking Off: The Late Cambrian
9. Home By The Sea: A Closer Look
10. On And On: Legacy of the Explosion
Notes and References
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John Foster is Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of Western Colorado and adjunct faculty at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. He has worked in Cambrian deposits in several areas of the western states, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and South Dakota. He is author of Jurassic West: The Dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation and Their World (IUP, 2007).