How did life begin? What really was 'snowball earth'? Why did the dinosaurs go extinct? Are we all descended from 'African Eve'? Will humans be responsible for the next r extinction? All these are addressed in this fascinating book. The story unfolds with the formation of the earth around four thousand million years ago, though it took until after massive bombardment by asteroids a hundred million years later for life to emerge and another fifteen million years until more complex life began to appear. Periods of relativelycalm, like a kaleidoscope held still, were punctuated by five vigorous shakes of the kaleidoscope representing major extinctions, with innumerable minor jolts along the way. Five million years ago an able ape evolved that gradually came to dominate and control the other animals and plants.Evolution in all its complexity has been put aside and the future lies in the hands of single species. Southwood's love for his subject, and for the life he describes, shines through this carefully and straightforwardly crafted story.
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Oxford University Press
December 07, 2012
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