The appearance of the modern plant cell is one of the most deeply puzzling and unlikely steps in the whole history of life, and as Martin Brasier shows in Secret Chambers, decoding this puzzle has been a great adventure that has mainly taken place over the last fifty years. Covering the period from 1 to 2 billion years ago, Brasier presents the modern understanding of the origin of the complex cell, without which there would be nothing on Earth today except bacteria. Indeed, the formation of this cell was a fundamental turning point in the history of life on Earth. Weaving together several threads, Brasier highlights the importance of single-celled forms to marine ecosystems, describes symbiosis and coral reefs, and examines the architecture and beauty of single-celled Foraminifera and what they tell us about evolution. Throughout the book, he interweaves cutting-edge scientific discussions with lively descriptions of his explorations around the world, from the Caribbean Sea and the Egyptian pyramids, to the shores of the great lakes in Canada, and to the reefs and deserts of Australia.
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Oxford University Press
May 30, 2012
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