Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere

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Overview

For 65 million years dinosaurs ruled the Earth--until a deadly asteroid forced their extinction. But what accounts for the incredible longevity of dinosaurs? A renowned scientist now provides a startling explanation that is rewriting the history of the Age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were pretty amazing creatures--real-life monsters that have the power to fascinate us. And their fiery Hollywood ending only serves to make the story that much more dramatic. But fossil evidence demonstrates that dinosaurs survived several mass extinctions, and were seemingly unaffected by catastrophes that decimated most other life on Earth. What could explain their uncanny ability to endure through the ages? Biologist and earth scientist Peter Ward now accounts for the remarkable indestructibility of dinosaurs by connecting their unusual respiration system with their ability to adapt to Earth's changing environment--a system that was ultimately bequeathed to their descendants, birds. By tracing the evolutionary path back through time and carefully connecting the dots from birds to dinosaurs, Ward describes the unique form of breathing shared by these two distant relatives and demonstrates how this simple but remarkable characteristic provides the elusive explanation to a question that has thus far stumped scientists. Nothing short of revolutionary in its bold presentation of an astonishing theory, Out of Thin Air is a story of science at the edge of discovery. Ward is an outstanding guide to the process of scientific detection. Audacious and innovative in his thinking, meticulous and thoroughly detailed in his research, only a scientist of his caliber is capable of telling this surprising story.
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Editorial Reviews

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When we think of dinosaurs, we imagine large creatures that dominated the earth by brute force and rapaciousness. But if University of Washington paleontologist Peter Ward is correct, dinosaurs owed their astonishing 65 million-year rule to the capacity of their lungs, not their sharp teeth. In Out of Thin Air, he offers convincing evidence that dinosaurs survived several mass extinctions because they were able to cope successfully in an oxygen-depleted environment. A revisionist prehistory.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780309100618
  • Publisher: National Academies Press
  • Publication date: 9/26/2006
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 829,828
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A wonderfully detailed, informative and compelling arguement for evolution influenced by global oxygen fluctuations through time.

    Presenting such a complex and vast topic as the effect of fluctuating atmospheric oxygen concetrations over time on the evolution of body forms and functions in a format accessible and engaging to both the lay reader and the scholar is daunting, but this is what Ward does best and this book is no exception. At times the compromise to accomodate such a wide audience lead to some redundancy and at other times left this reader wanting for more detail. However, the book is well referenced allowing for expanded study of any particular topic. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in evolution or respiratory biology.

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    Posted December 22, 2008

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    Posted March 13, 2010

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