The Course of Evolutionary History

Life Pulse: Episodes from the Story of the Fossil Record. Niles Eldredge. Facts on File Publications, New York, 1987. 246 pp. $19.95. Reading Life Pulse has a certain element of déjà vu for me. A decade ago a committee of paleontologists from the National Museum of Natural History began the complete thematic reorganization of our four major paleontology halls. To avoid the traditional "Hall of Fossil Invertebrates," "Hall of..." approach, we developed a comprehensive theme statement

Robert Emry
May 3, 1987
Life Pulse: Episodes from the Story of the Fossil Record. Niles Eldredge. Facts on File Publications, New York, 1987. 246 pp. $19.95.


Reading Life Pulse has a certain element of déjà vu for me. A decade ago a committee of paleontologists from the National Museum of Natural History began the complete thematic reorganization of our four major paleontology halls. To avoid the traditional "Hall of Fossil Invertebrates," "Hall of..." approach, we developed a comprehensive theme statement—a plan to highlight the major episodes of life history as shown by the integrated fossil records. Our list of "episodes" could have been the table of contents for Life Pulse.

This concurrence might seem remarkable, but to a paleontologist it is not unexpected. It demonstrates the overall agreement in interpreting the general course of evolutionary history. Beyond the headings, the contrast between book and exhibit is striking, though both, in attempting to...