Nancy has it right about Whale #1. The ACTION of this strange (to modern eyes) animal strikes just the right note. The other images aren't interesting unless you already know something about evolution, and they don't pull you in. Tikaalik is the more important fossil, but for purposes of the cover, it is just a funny fish sitting there doing nothing. Parasitic wasps are interesting, but for a cover it's just a bug.
I think ambulocetus is the most "shocking" one, and the most memorable for students--who knew that whale ancestors were dog-like? I didn't like seeing what looked like a smile coming from tiktaalik. I agree with ERinSTL on the font issue. Whale 1 is my vote.
Wasp1. Partly, the simplicity of the image flows well with the title and credits, where in the vertebrate images I feel they overwhelm the text.
And partly, vertebrates are simply overdone. Not to knock Carl Buell's awesome artwork, of course.
I agree with Nancy - I voted for Whale 1 - it had action, and clearest layout of title etc.
I like the whale best because it shows ACTION and makes you think about the implications. If the point is to be eye-catching and informative, the whale wins by a long shot for me. I like the Tiktaalik too but it left me wondering what it was all about.... with the whale there is no ambiguity about what is happening, or why. The wasp is pretty, but seems more like a calendar picture (for better or worse, there are a lot of nice insect/flower pictures out there these days).
The Wasp ones are a gorgeous photo, but they don't say "Evolution" to me. The other two do, but Ambulocetus more so. Between Whale1 and Whale2, for me, is a clear choice. I don't like "fun with fonts", so nix the mixed colors and bold/light. I'm not even crazy about the different weight for "The" compared to "Tangled Bank" but it's not as bad as the other. Whale1 by a nose.
The "pedagogical power" (horrid phrase but meaningful) of the living whale ancestors is too much to pass up. The links that weren't missing.
I voted for the living forms over the fossils, because:
I liked the photos, they seemed more visually interesting (but I can't articulate why I liked Wasp 1 best of the three). It is not "vertebrate-centric" - plants and invertebrates evolve, too. I like the idea of emphasizing that much of evolution is not about fossils, but has vital relevance to life around us today. Not that there is anything wrong about fossils. :)
While I agree with Andrew about Tiktaalik and Ambulocetus being appropriate for At the Water's Edge, they still make for a striking layout (and wow, Carl Buell!). I voted for Tiktaalik 1 because the red text pops out against the overall green of the cover painting, and the way the picture darkens toward the top makes the text clear and easy to read.
Wasp1 wins for me. Beautiful photograph. The other two would have good covers for At the Water's Edge.
For me it's between Tiktalik1 and Wasp1, which seems to be how the votes are going as well.
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