Out of Thin Air:: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere (Google eBook)

Front Cover
National Academies Press, Sep 26, 2006 - Science - 296 pages
7 Reviews

For 65 million years dinosaurs ruled the Earth--until a deadly asteroid forced their extinction. But what accounts for the incredible longevity of dinosaurs? A renowned scientist now provides a startling explanation that is rewriting the history of the Age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were pretty amazing creatures--real-life monsters that have the power to fascinate us. And their fiery Hollywood ending only serves to make the story that much more dramatic. But fossil evidence demonstrates that dinosaurs survived several mass extinctions, and were seemingly unaffected by catastrophes that decimated most other life on Earth. What could explain their uncanny ability to endure through the ages? Biologist and earth scientist Peter Ward now accounts for the remarkable indestructibility of dinosaurs by connecting their unusual respiration system with their ability to adapt to Earth's changing environment--a system that was ultimately bequeathed to their descendants, birds. By tracing the evolutionary path back through time and carefully connecting the dots from birds to dinosaurs, Ward describes the unique form of breathing shared by these two distant relatives and demonstrates how this simple but remarkable characteristic provides the elusive explanation to a question that has thus far stumped scientists. Nothing short of revolutionary in its bold presentation of an astonishing theory, Out of Thin Air is a story of science at the edge of discovery. Ward is an outstanding guide to the process of scientific detection. Audacious and innovative in his thinking, meticulous and thoroughly detailed in his research, only a scientist of his caliber is capable of telling this surprising story.

  

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Review: Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere

User Review  - Noel Roach - Goodreads

Ward puts forward the thesis that the variation in the partial pressure of oxygen over the past 540 million years since the Cambrian Explosion has been the major driving force (or certainly one of the ... Read full review

Review: Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere

User Review  - Michael Ward - Goodreads

In the past Earth's oxygen levels have varied between 13% and possibly as high as 28% of the atmosphere. This has happened before and will happen again. Dinosaurs evolved during a mass extinction at a ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
1 RESPIRATION AND THE BODY PLANS OF ANIMAL LIFE
9
2 OXYGEN THROUGH TIME
31
3 EVOLVING RESPIRATORY SYSTEMS AS A CAUSE OF THE CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION
51
CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION PART II
81
HOW AN OXYGEN SPIKE ALLOWED THE FIRST CONQUEST OF LAND
89
HIGH OXYGEN FIRES AND GIANTS
111
7 THE PERMIAN EXTINCTION AND THE EVOLUTION OF ENDOTHERMY
133
8 THE TRIASSIC EXPLOSION
159
DINOSAUR HEGEMONY IN A LOWOXYGEN WORLD
199
10 THE CRETACEOUS EXTINCTION AND THE RISE OF LARGE MAMMALS
223
11 SHOULD WE FEAR THE OXYGEN FUTURE?
229
REFERENCES
237
RESPIRATORY SYSTEMS AMONG VARIOUS ANIMAL GROUPS
261
INDEX
265
Copyright

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