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When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time
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When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time

by Michael J. Benton
 

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“The focus is the most severe mass extinction known in earth’s history. The science on which the book is based is up-to-date, thorough, and balanced. Highly recommended.” —Choice
Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite impact 65 million years ago that killed half of all species then living. It is far

Overview

“The focus is the most severe mass extinction known in earth’s history. The science on which the book is based is up-to-date, thorough, and balanced. Highly recommended.” —Choice
Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite impact 65 million years ago that killed half of all species then living. It is far less widely understood that a much greater catastrophe took place at the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago: at least ninety percent of life on earth was destroyed.When Life Nearly Died documents not only what happened during this gigantic mass extinction but also the recent renewal of the idea of catastrophism: the theory that changes in the earth’s crust were brought about suddenly in the past by phenomena that cannot be observed today. Was the end-Permian event caused by the impact of a huge meteorite or comet, or by prolonged volcanic eruption in Siberia? The evidence has been accumulating, and Michael J. Benton gives his verdict at the end of the volume.
The new edition brings the study of the greatest mass extinction of all time thoroughly up-to-date. In the twelve years since the book was originally published, hundreds of geologists and paleontologists have been investigating all aspects of how life could be driven to the brink of annihilation, and especially how life recovered afterwards, providing the foundations of modern ecosystems.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A meteor striking Earth 65 million years ago is now held as a plausible explanation for the demise of the dinosaurs. But what caused events like the Permian extinction 251 million years ago, often considered the most devastating of the five big extinctions, when an estimated 90 percent of all life disappeared from the planet? Paleontologist Benton sets out to unravel this puzzle, building his case by beginning with the history of geology and modern improvements in the ability to analyze information from the fossil record. He contrasts a comprehensive picture of living sea and land organisms with life just after the extinction. In the final chapters, he offers his explanations for the extinction ("a combination of volcanic activity and a release of gas hydrates...produced a devastating cascade of acid rains, global warming, land weathering, ocean stagnation, and marine anoxia"). The author covers a lot of information, but he connects it all in a readable and interesting way, while striving to present a balanced and open-ended viewpoint. For public and academic libraries.-Kimberly Megginson, DeWitt Medical Lib., Ft. Belvoir, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500291931
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
08/11/2015
Edition description:
Revised edition
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
406,286
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Michael J. Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol. His many previous books include standard reference works, textbooks, and popular books on dinosaurs and the history of life.

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