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July 21, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

TRILOBITES by Riccardo Levi-Setti (University of Chicago Press: $24.95, paper, 342 pp.) With their three-lobed bodies and compound eyes, trilobites, which flourished from 570 million to 230 million years ago, look as weird as any sci-fi movie monster. Although the text sometimes gets a bit technical, Levi-Setti's enthusiasm for these marine fossils is difficult to resist: "Dinosaurs were not the only prehistoric animals that inspire awe and fascination. Trilobites tell us of an earlier world, perhaps less threatening, when life on Earth could still explode into a myriad of new, unseen, uncounted forms discovering their own way to survive."

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