Evolutionary Catastrophes: The Science of Mass Extinction / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 35%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 94%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (21) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $13.98   
  • Used (13) from $1.99   


Why did the dinosaurs and two-thirds of all living species vanish from the face of the Earth 65 million years ago? This book looks at some of the theories and myths surrounding this aspect of the history of life and death on our planet. Why did the dinosaurs and two-thirds of all living species vanish from the face of the Earth sixty-five million years ago? Throughout the history of life a small number of catastrophic events have caused mass extinction, and changed the path of evolution forever. Two main theories have emerged to account for these dramatic events: asteroid impact, and massive volcanic eruptions, both leading to nuclear-like winter. In recent years, the impact hypothesis has gained precedence, but Vincent Courtillot suggests that cataclysmic volcanic activity can be linked not only to the K-T mass extinction, but to most of the main mass extinction events in the history of the Earth. Courtillot's book debunks some of the myths surrounding one of the most controversial arguments in science. This story will fascinate everyone interested in the history of life and death on our planet.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Revolutionary Catastrophes tips its hat to other viewpoints, and so builds a more compelling argument...from almost the beginning of the debate, Courtillot has played a central role...his overall open-mindedness stands out." The Sciences

"Courtillot gives a well-argued taste of the debate for the general reader." Nature

"The style of Evolutionary Catastrophes is lively and engaging and the figures are simple, clear, and intellectually stimulating.... [This book] provides a refreshingly balanced consideration of contributions from international scholars, and also highlights some of the early and less well-known contributions to the impact and volcanic theories of the K/T crisis. Evolutionary Catastrophes is written at an easily accessible scientific level; it is appropriate for students and non-scientists; but its thorough, concise coverage of vital research topics will be of considerable value to specialists.... [This book] celebrates scientific research into geodynamics, meteorite impacts, and mass extinctions; research that is as important to understanding the history of our planet as it is to the extinction rates of the present." Willis Hames, Auburn University

"Excellent...A well written and well-reasoned book, essential for any library." Choice

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Originally published in France in 1995, this slim volume by a professor of geology at the University of Paris attempts to explain the causes of mass extinctions that have occurred over the past 300 million years. Courtillot does a superb job of presenting evidence for and against the two most likely factors: collisions of large asteroids with the earth and extensive volcanic activity. Although the popular belief is that asteroids are responsible, Courtillot argues persuasively that all available data are more consistent with the volcanic theory. Indeed, seven of the world's mass extinctions occurred when volcanic activity was at its peak, while only one, the extinction that took place 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs, among many other species, appears to have coincided with the impact of a major asteroid. Courtillot also discusses the personalities of some of the leading figures on both sides of the debate, as well as the nature of science. The book is fairly technical, however, so its appeal to a general readership may be limited. Illustrations. July Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
"Science is not a democracy, and there is no room for political compromise," writes Frankel in reference to the raging debate over what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. In one camp are the catastrophists, led by the discoveries of Walter and Louis Alvarez, who believe that a meteor impact was the cause; in the opposite corner, led by Courtillot (geophysics, Univ. of Paris), are the gradualists, who believe that dinosaur extinction was caused by long periods of intense volcanism. Walter Alvarez has already published a popular firsthand account of his own research (T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, LJ 6/15/97), and now Courtillot's popularized defense of the volcano extinction theory, first published in French in 1995, has been translated into English. Both of these books are fairly well written and appropriate for high school readers; the combination of the two will give junior scientists a good opportunity to consider and evaluate the evidence and arguments on both sides of the debate. On the side of the catastrophists (and most U.S. scientists are), Frankel, who is a planetary geologist and therefore more interested in meteors than dinosaurs, offers an excellent history of the research, as well as speculation on how to stop another large meteorite from striking Earth and causing the extinction of human beings. For all public libraries.--Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Periodically in the prehistory of the earth, mass extinctions have wiped out masses of species. Courtillot (geophysics, U. of Paris, France) argues the case for believing that these mass extinctions were almost solely the result of volcanic activities. After comparing the other proposed cause of asteroid impact, he details the correlations between volcanic activity and extinctions and explains the likely results of heightened volcanic activity. He also cites the Chicxulub impact crater in the Yucatan as the strongest piece of countervailing evidence and calls into question some of the conclusions drawn from the crater. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521891189
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 173
  • Sales rank: 1,173,250
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Vincent Courtillot is Professor of Geophysics at the University of Paris, heads a research group at Institut de Physique du Globe and is special advisor to the French Ministry of National Education, Research and Technology.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword Claude All├Ęge; Preface; Preface to the English translation; 1. Mass extinctions; 2. An asteroid impact; 3. From the roof of the world to the Deccan traps; 4. The volcanic scenario; 5. Plumes and hotspots; 6. A remarkable correlation; 7. Nemesis or Shiva?; 8. Chicxulub; 9. Controversy and coincidence; 10. Improbable catastrophes and the flukes of evolution; Index.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)