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Taking Wing

Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight

Taking Wing

Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight

Author: Pat Shipman

Published: 1999-01-15

Publisher's Description:

In 1861, just a few years after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, a scientist named Hermann von Meyer made an amazing discovery. Hidden in the Bavarian region of Germany was a fossil skeleton so exquisitely preserved that its wings and feathers were as obvious as its reptilian jaws and tail. This transitional creature offered tangible proof of Darwin's theory of evolution.

Hailed as the First Bird, Archaeopteryx has remained the subject of heated debates for the last 140 years. Are birds actually living dinosaurs? Where does the fossil record really lead? Did flight originate from the "ground up" or "trees down"? Pat Shipman traces the age-old human desire to soar above the earth and to understand what has come before us. Taking Wing is science as adventure story, told with all the drama by which scientific understanding unfolds.


From Library Journal
Applying skills honed in the controversial field of paleoanthropology, Shipman (The Evolution of Racism: Human Differences and the Use and Abuse of Science, LJ 6/1/94) draws from a diversity of scientific fields to present a comprehensive analysis of the ideas explaining how adaptations needed for animal flight came about. Using the well-known Archaeopteryx fossils as a keystone, she discusses historical and current hypotheses about bird evolution, along with the provocative debates they spurred. Shipman draws the reader into the debate by providing the science and physical evidence for each point of view, along with rebuttals of its critics.


  • Language: English
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  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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  • Date Published: 14 Jan 1999
  • ISBN-10: 0684849658
  • ISBN-13: 9780684849652