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The Late Devonian Mass Extinction: The Frasnian/Famennian Crisis

Series: Critical Moments and Perspectives in Earth History and Paleobiology Series

By: George R McGhee

303 pages, Figs, tabs

Columbia University Press

Paperback | Mar 1996 | #53291 | ISBN: 0231075057
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NHBS Price: £34.50 $42/€39 approx
Hardback | Mar 1996 | #53290 | ISBN: 0231075049
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NHBS Price: £103.50 $127/€116 approx

About this book

About 367 million years ago, during the Late Devonian period, a powerful force caused a mass extinction on Earth. It is estimated that some three-quarters of all living species did not survive. What caused this massive loss of species diversity, one of only five such crises in geologic history? Was it global cooling? A catastrophic impact, or several impacts? Palaeontologists cannot agree. Based on two decades of research this book reviews the many theories that have been presented to explain the event, considering in particular the possibility that the extinction was indeed triggered by the multiple impacts of extraterrestrial objects.

McGhee thoroughly assesses knowledge about the Late Devonian mass extinction, during which at least 70 percent of species vanished. The text is so comprehensive and well written, though, that it could serve as a basic resource for thinking about all extinctions, mass or otherwise: the severity of the extinction, its duration, the various organisms affected, and likely causes. His approach is based first on a description of the evidence, and then on an analysis of the hypotheses... The objectivity of the book is enhanced by the author's willingness to even disagree with his own previous work... Anyone interested in extinctions should have this book. -- "Choice"

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