Islands in the Cosmos: The Evolution of Life on Land

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Indiana University Press, 2009 - Science - 453 pages

How is it that we came to be here? The search for answers to that question has preoccupied humans for millennia. Scientists have sought clues in the genes of living things, in the physical environments of Earth from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean, in the chemistry of this world and those nearby, in the tiniest particles of matter, and in the deepest reaches of space. In Islands of the Cosmos, Dale A. Russell traces a path from the dawn of the universe to speculations about our future on this planet. He centers his story on the physical and biological processes in evolution, which interact to favor more successful, and eliminate less successful, forms of life. Marvelously, these processes reveal latent possibilities in life's basic structure, and propel a major evolutionary theme: the increasing proficiency of biological function. It remains to be seen whether the human form can survive the dynamic processes that brought it into existence. Yet the emergence of the ability to acquire knowledge from experience, to optimize behavior, to conceptualize, to distinguish "good" from "bad" behavior all hint at an evolutionary outcome that science is only beginning to understand.

 

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User Review  - subarcticmike - LibraryThing

What does it take to become a wellspring of life? 'Islands in the Cosmos' is an encompassing review of our little blue planet. Russell is a professional paleontologist who reaches beyond his career in ... Read full review

Contents

IV
1
V
27
VI
35
VII
47
VIII
59
IX
75
X
87
XI
105
XIV
159
XV
167
XVI
191
XVII
257
XVIII
317
XIX
357
XX
363
XXI
443

XII
127
XIII
143

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About the author (2009)

Dale A. Russell is senior curator of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and author of A Vanished World: The Dinosaurs of Western Canada and An Odyssey in Time: The Dinosaurs of North America.

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