391 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations
An estimated 4.6 billion years ago, the Earth and Moon were formed in a violent impact. On this, many agree, and even more that a long time after that, life began. However, few know that the first life on the Earth may not have emerged on this planet, but could, in fact, have begun on Mars, brought here by meteorites. In this revolutionary book, leading scientists Peter Ward and Joe Kirschvink rewrite the principal account of the history of life on Earth. They show not only how the rise of animals was delayed for billions of years, but also what it was that first forced fish out of the sea and onto the land.
Together, the two scientists explain how developments in the environment led to multiple Ice Ages before the emergence of dinosaurs and other giant animals, and what the true cause of these great beasts' eventual extinction was. Finally, charting the course of our own evolution, they explore whether this generation will see the end of the human species. A New History of Life proves not only that much of what we think we know should be unlearned, but also that the true history of life on Earth is much more surprising and wonderful than we could ever have imagined.
"A New History of Life deserves kudos for infectious élan, impressive scholarship and a plausible accounting of life's herky-jerky, hurry-up-and-wait tribulations."
– Wall Street Journal
"If you want to open your mind to the depths of modern thinking, then A New History of Life is for you. Read it!"
– San Francisco Book Review
"A New History of Life makes for an exciting and comprehensive read, enthralling to science nerds and lay readers who are curious about the rich natural history of planet Earth. "
– Nature World News
"The authors, both scientists, propose several different ways of looking at the history of life on earth, including the role that catastrophes played in shaping the development of living things."
– Seattle Times
"Fascinating [...] The authors make a compelling case [...] There is much to learn from Ward and Kirschvink's dinsosaurs and cyanobacteria"
– New Scientist
Chapter 1. Telling Time 8
Chapter 2. Becoming an Earthlike Planet: 4.6–4.5 GA 14
Chapter 3. Life, Death, and the Newly Discovered Place In Between 28
Chapter 4. Forming Life: 4.2(?)–3.5 GA 43
Chapter 5. From Origin to Oxygenation: 3.5–2.0 GA 65
Chapter 6. The Long Road to Animals: 2.0–1.0 GA 90
Chapter 7. The Cryogenian and the Evolution of Animals: 850–635 MA 100
Chapter 8. The Cambrian Explosion: 600–500 MA 120
Chapter 9. The Ordovician-Devonian Expansion of Animals: 500–360 MA 148
Chapter 10. Tiktaalik and the Invasion of the Land: 475–300 MA 165
Chapter 11. The Age of Arthropods: 350–300 MA 190
Chapter 12. The Great Dying – Anoxia and Global Stagnation: 252–250 MA 211
Chapter 13. The Triassic Explosion: 252–200 MA 225
Chapter 14. Dinosaur Hegemony in a Low-Oxygen World: 230–180 MA 245
Chapter 15. The Greenhouse Oceans: 200–65 MA 278
Chapter 16. Death of the Dinosaurs: 65 MA 296
Chapter 17. The Long-Delayed Third Age of Mammals: 65–50 MA 307
Chapter 18. The Age of Birds: 50–2.5 MA 320
Chapter 19. Huimanity and the Tenth Extinction: 2.5 MA to present 329
Chapter 20. The Knowable Futures of Earth Life 345
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Peter Ward is a Professor of Biology and Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, and has appeared in numerous television documentaries and his eight-hour series, Animal Armageddon, was televised in 2009. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Rare Earth and On Methuselah's Trail, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Award.
Joe Kirschvink received his PhD from Princeton University and is the Nico and Marilyn Van Wingen Professor of Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He originated the 'Snowball Earth' concept to explain weird features of Earth's oldest glaciations, discovered the tiny magnets that animals use for navigation, and has recognised several major shifts in Earth's spin axis that have driven biological evolution.