367 pages, 8 col plates, b/w photos, illus, figs
Until recently, the task of reconstructing the history of life on Earth was frustrated by the lack of fossils older than 550 million years. In 1993, the author identified fossilized microorganisms 3.5 billion years old. Here he describes the exciting progress of modern palaeobiology.
A book that bears out [Schopf's] assertion that science is enormously good fun! Scientific American What were your very earliest ancestors like? I do not mean your great-great-great-grandparents. I mean the earliest life on the planet. In principle we all have a unique lineage of ancestors that runs all the way back to the origin of life. What was life like then--and is the supposed life on Mars our cousin? These are the problems palaeontologist Bill Schopf faces... It has been a while since I read a book with so much good sense, put over in so amicable a style. If I ever were to discover my great-great-great grandparents I hope they turn out to be as wise as Schopf. -- Laurence Hurst New Scientist In the well-written Cradle of Life, Schopf tells his own story of how Earth's early microbial biosphere was discovered. -- Stefan Bengtson Nature A very clear introduction to the first living things... Schopf ... adopts an unusually informal first-person style for this rangy exploration of how Pre-cambrian fossils came to light and what they've taught us. Publishers Weekly An exceptional description of the field that is accessible to any educated lay reader. Library Journal Schopf combines his often entertaining personal story with an introduction to the discipline of paleobiology, with asides on the chemical makeup of life... A good introduction to the history of a science on the cutting edge. Kirkus Reviews A good introduction to a quickly evolving topic... Schopf also offers a number of insider nuggets. Choice Schopf's subject, the origin of life, is fascinating, and as significant as any question that has ever been asked in academia. His explanation of the science behind his conclusions is clear, his approach is well organized... This is a marvelous, magnificent, scientific adventure. -- John R. Alden Cleveland Plain Dealer Cradle of Life provides the best current popular overview of the first 85% of life's history on Earth, and that is history worth reading. -- Robert M. Hazen Physics Today An extraordinary account of a monumentally complex subject presented in simple and understandable terms, and in an eminently readable style. -- Steve Voynick Rock and Gem
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