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The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World Beneath our Feet
     

The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World Beneath our Feet

by Anthony J. Martin
 

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What is the best way to survive when the going gets tough? Hiding underground. From penguins to dinosaurs, trilobites, and humans, Anthony Martin reveals the subterranean secret of survival.Humans have “gone underground” for survival for thousands of years, from underground cities in Turkey to Cold War–era bunkers. But our burrowing roots go back

Overview

What is the best way to survive when the going gets tough? Hiding underground. From penguins to dinosaurs, trilobites, and humans, Anthony Martin reveals the subterranean secret of survival.Humans have “gone underground” for survival for thousands of years, from underground cities in Turkey to Cold War–era bunkers. But our burrowing roots go back to the very beginnings of animal life on earth. Without burrowing, the planet would be very different today. Many animal lineages alive now—including our own—only survived a cataclysmic meteorite strike 65 million years ago because they went underground.On a grander scale, the chemistry of the planet itself had already been transformed many millions of years earlier by the first animal burrows, which altered whole ecosystems. Every day we walk on an earth filled with an under-ground wilderness teeming with life. Most of this life stays hidden, yet these animals and their subterranean homes are ubiquitous, ranging from the deep sea to mountains, from the equator to the poles.Burrows are a refuge from predators, a safe home for raising young, or a tool to ambush prey. Burrows also protect animals against all types of natural disasters: fires, droughts, storms, meteorites, global warmings—and coolings. In a book filled with spectacularly diverse fauna, acclaimed paleontologist and ichnologist Anthony Martin reveals this fascinating, hidden world that will continue to influence and transform life on this planet.

Editorial Reviews

The Dallas Morning News [praise for 'Dinosaurs Without Bones']
“Martin’s greatest talent may be in evoking the lost world brought to light by dinosaur traces. Ichnology is a science of absence, one that re-creates an entire ecosystem out of a few dimples in some rocks. Martin is a skilled tracker and a worthy guide. ”
The Dallas Morning News
“Martin’s greatest talent may be in evoking the lost world brought to light by dinosaur traces. Ichnology is a science of absence, one that re-creates an entire ecosystem out of a few dimples in some rocks. Martin is a skilled tracker and a worthy guide. ”
Library Journal
02/01/2017
Martin (geology, Emory Univ., Dinosaurs Without Bones) shows how burrows have been a survival method for all types of creatures for hundreds of millions of years. This book takes a comprehensive look at the subject, covering both contemporary animal habitats and burrows used as an evolutionary adaptation that ensured species' survival through major cataclysmic changes and mass extinctions that mark changes in geologic time periods. All manner of animals—worms, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, mammals, and even humans—create burrows to protect themselves from predators, raise their vulnerable young, and regulate temperature and humidity through seasonal changes. In doing so, these species transform the geology and ecology of their environment, effectively becoming ecosystem engineers as they alter the chemical and structural makeup of landforms and ocean floors, while serving as keystone species that guarantee the survival of a whole host of organisms. The chapters on paleontology are particularly noteworthy, as Martin is an expert ichnologist, studying the fossilized traces of animal activity found in rocks. Regrettably lacking are illustrations, forcing readers to imagine complex burrow structures from description alone. VERDICT A great introduction and history that will fascinate ecominded conservationists and fossil hunters.—Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
2016-12-05
Explosions, fires, asteroid collisions, predators: there are good reasons to go underground for critters of many descriptions, as this lightly written, pleasant survey reveals. Many are the payoffs of knowing how to hide, as the old Monty Python gag goes. One is survival—not necessarily of the fittest but of those capable of digging the deepest. Some 66 million years ago, a massive asteroid hit the Earth, causing a huge wave of extinctions. As a result, writes paleontologist Martin (Geosciences/Emory Univ.; Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils, 2014, etc.), "all of the dinosaurs that did not have the good sense to be birds died." Many of the critters that did survive the cataclysm had the good sense to dwell under the surface, where they had some measure of protection from the elements. Just so, Martin writes in a closing reverie, when Mount St. Helens went up in a plume of ash and fire 36 years ago, only 14 of the 55 mammal species on the mountain survived—and guess which ones? Yep: burrowing rodents, along with a tiny shrew. Martin, known for having discovered an ancient burrowing dinosaur, examines the world underground and the evolutionary advantages attendant in knowing how to get around down there (and, as he notes, even some birds burrow). The tone is amiable and unchallenging, pitched at the level of a nature documentary ("given that our fine feathered friends of today are descended from Mesozoic theropod dinosaurs, we must look to those dinosaurs for clues"). Though Martin sometimes stretches for relevance, as when he clumsily works The Shawshank Redemption into the proceedings, the narrative is generally straightforward and enjoyable. And given the undeniable advantages of sheltering where no one can see you—no one but snakes and alligators, that is—it seems well in this fraught world to read up on how pocket gophers have built their successful subterranean empires. A spry exercise in popular science. Can you dig it?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781681773124
Publisher:
Pegasus Books
Publication date:
02/07/2017
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
266,346
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

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Meet the Author

Anthony J. Martinis a Professor at Emory University, a paleontologist, geologist, and one of the world’s most accomplished ichnologists. He is the co-discoverer of the first known burrowing dinosaur, found the oldest dinosaur burrows in the geologic record, and documented the best assemblage of polar-dinosaur tracks in the Southern Hemisphere. He is the author of two textbooks on dinosaurs as well as Dinosaurs Without Bonesand lives in Atlanta, GA.

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