Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
By one of Britain's most gifted scientists: a magnificently daring and compulsively readable account of life on Earth (from the "big bang" to the advent of man), based entirely on the most original of all sources--the evidence of fossils.
With excitement and driving intelligence, Richard Fortey guides us from the barren globe spinning in space, through the very earliest signs of life in the sulphurous hot springs and volcanic vents of the young planet, the appearance of cells, the slow creation of an atmosphere and the evolution of myriad forms of plants and animals that could then be sustained, including the magnificent era of the dinosaurs, and on to the last moment before the debut of Homo sapiens.
Ranging across multiple scientific disciplines, explicating in wonderfully clear and refreshing prose their findings and arguments--about the origins of life, the causes of species extinctions and the first appearance of man--Fortey weaves this history out of the most delicate traceries left in rock, stone and earth. He also explains how, on each aspect of nature and life, scientists have reached the understanding we have today, who made the key discoveries, who their opponents were and why certain ideas won.
Brimful of wit, fascinating personal experience and high scholarship, this book may well be our best introduction yet to the complex history of life on Earth.
A Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection With 32 pages of photographs
From the Hardcover edition.
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Life: a natural history of the first four billion years of life on earthUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
The diversity of Earth's evolutionary history are preserved in its stones. Fortney enlivens this broad paleontological survey with anecdotes from his own fossil-hunting expeditions. (LJ 4/1/98) Read full review
Chapter 9Monstrous and Modest
Chapter 10Theories of the End
Chapter 11Suckling Success
Chapter 13Wheels of Chance
ALSO BY RICHARD FORTEY
Chapter 7Silent Forests Crowded Oceans
Chapter 8The Great Continent
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Africa algae ancient Archaeopteryx Arctic arthropods atmosphere Australia Australopithecus bacteria became biological birds bones brachiopods Burgess Shale Cambrian carbon Carboniferous cells cladistics climate conodont conodont animal continents corals creatures Cretaceous dark Darwin delicate described Devonian dinosaurs discovered discovery early Earth Ediacara Ediacara fauna evidence evolution evolutionary example extinct fauna ferns fish forest fossils geological giant graptolites habitats happened Hinlopenstretet Homo human imagine insects island jellyfish Jurassic kind known land legs limestone living look mammals marine marsupials mats meteorites million years ago molecules narrative Natural History Museum oceans once Ordovician organisms origin oxygen palaeontologists Pangaea Permian photosynthesis plankton plants plates Precambrian predators preserved primitive probably reconstructions reefs relatives reptiles rock sections scientists sediments seems Shale sharks shells Silurian skeleton South species specimens Spitsbergen spores story stromatolites surface survive teeth things tiny tough trees trilobites tropical