I never quite realised before I read this how much controversy Archaeopteryx stirred up, or the petty quarrels between opposing professors and palaeontologists. I found it interesting that Chambers gave serious consideration to the ideas of people who say that birds aren’t descended directly from dinosaurs; as he says, some of the arguments against that direct relationship do make sense and are worth considering, even though there’s also plenty of evidence on the other side.
Altogether, this is a great analysis of Archaeopteryx, its impact, and what it symbolised. There’s mini biographies of various scientists, including Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog), and some of them are surprisingly fascinating. In a way, this is more about arguments about evolution via natural selection and “missing links” than it is specifically about Archaeopteryx, although there is plenty of info here about the fossil itself as well.
Readable and interesting, though at times there’s a bit too much about the feuds of ridiculous scientists who just wanted to prove each other wrong.