Rivers in Time: The Search for Clues to Earth's Mass Extinctions

Rivers in Time: The Search for Clues to Earth's Mass Extinctions

by Peter D. Ward, Peter Douglas Ward, Peter D. Ward
     
 

ISBN-10: 0231118627

ISBN-13: 9780231118620

Pub. Date: 12/15/2002

Publisher: Perseus (for Columbia University Press)

Several times in the distant past, catastrophic extinctions have swept the Earth, causing more than half of all species -from single-celled organisms to awe-inspiring behemoths -to suddenly vanish and be replaced by new life forms. Today the rich diversity of life on the Earth is again in grave danger -and the cause is not a sudden cataclysmic event but…  See more details below

Overview

Several times in the distant past, catastrophic extinctions have swept the Earth, causing more than half of all species -from single-celled organisms to awe-inspiring behemoths -to suddenly vanish and be replaced by new life forms. Today the rich diversity of life on the Earth is again in grave danger -and the cause is not a sudden cataclysmic event but rather humankind´s devastation of the environment. Is life on our planet teetering on the brink of another mass extinction? In this absorbing new book, acclaimed paleontologist Peter D. Ward answers this daunting question with a resounding yes.Elaborating on and updating Ward´s previous work, The End of Evolution, Rivers in Time delves into his newest discoveries. The book presents the gripping tale of the author´s investigations into the history of life and death on Earth through a series of expeditions that have brought him ever closer to the truth about mass extinctions, past and future. First describing the three previous mass extinctions -those marking the transition from the Permian to the Triassic periods 245 million years ago, the Triassic to the Jurassic 200 million years ago, and the Cretaceous to the Tertiary 65 million years ago -Ward assesses the present devastation in which countless species are coming to the end of their evolution at the hand of that wandering, potentially destructive force called Homo sapiens. The book takes readers to the Philippine Sea, now eerily empty of life, where only a few decades of catching fish by using dynamite have resulted in eviscerated coral reefs -and a dramatic reduction in the marine life the region can support. Ward travels to Canada´s Queen Charlotte Islands to investigate the extinctions that mark the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic periods. He ventures also into the Karoo desert of southern Africa, where some of Earth´s earliest land life emerged from the water and stood poised to develop into mammal form, only to be obliterated during the Permian/Triassic extinction. Rivers of Time provides reason to marvel and mourn, to fear and hope, as it bears stark witness to the urgency of the Earth´s present predicament: Ward offers powerful proof that if radical measures are not taken to protect the biodiversity of this planet, much of life as we know it may not survive.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231118620
Publisher:
Perseus (for Columbia University Press)
Publication date:
12/15/2002
Edition description:
REVISED & UPDATED
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
I:The Permian/ Triassic Event
The Cape II
The Great Karoo
End of an Era
II: The Triassic/Jurassic Event
Dawn of the Mesozoic
Haida Gwai
III: The Cretaceous/Tertiary Mass Event
The Age of Dinosaurs
Death of the Dinosaurs
IV: The Modern Mass Extinction
Autumn
Winter
Overkill
Lost Islands
Numbers
The End of Evolution, the Future of Evolution
Notes
Additional References
Index


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