Resurrecting the Shark: A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil

Susan Ewing. Pegasus, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-68177-343-8
Ewing (The Great Alaska Nature Factbook), a nature writer and children’s author, shares the century-long story of scientific investigation that resulted in the discovery of Helicoprion, “one of the largest predatory fish in the global oceans, [which cruised] the top of the food chain for ten to fifteen million years.” Since the 1880s, when a bizarre fossil of what appeared to be a prehistoric shark was found in Australia, scientists have been attempting to figure out what this animal looked like and how it functioned. The fossil itself was so confusing—a round plate with whorls of “fourteen serrated points”—that the world’s best paleontologists argued for years over whether the points were fish-spines or teeth. The whorl of points turned out to be a single curved tooth fixed to the fish’s bottom jaw, much like a buzz saw. Ewing focuses on the group that solved the problem in 2013 while also providing accessible background material on basic geology, paleontology, taxonomy, and the scientific method. The details of shark anatomy can feel overwhelming, but Ewing brings to life the personalities of those who wrestled with these fossils to reveal “the beautiful, frustrating, addictive, rewarding way” that research works. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-68177-392-6
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-1-68177-682-8
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