Europe: A Natural History

Europe: A Natural History

by Tim Flannery


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From internationally bestselling author and celebrated scientist Tim Flannery, a history of Europe unlike any before: an ecological account of the land itself and the forces shaping life on it.

In Europe: A Natural History, world-renowned scientist, explorer, and conservationist Tim Flannery applies the eloquent interdisciplinary approach he used in his ecological histories of Australia and North America to the story of Europe. He begins 100 million years ago, when the continents of Asia, North America, and Africa interacted to create an island archipelago that would later become the Europe we know today. It was on these ancient tropical lands that the first distinctly European organisms evolved. Flannery teaches us about Europe’s midwife toad, which has endured since the continent’s beginning, while elephants, crocodiles, and giant sharks have come and gone. He explores the monumental changes wrought by the devastating comet strike and shows how rapid atmospheric shifts transformed the European archipelago into a single landmass during the Eocene.

As the story moves through millions of years of evolutionary history, Flannery eventually turns to our own species, describing the immense impact humans had on the continent’s flora and fauna—within 30,000 years of our arrival in Europe, the woolly rhino, the cave bear, and the giant elk, among others, would disappear completely. The story continues right up to the present, as Flannery describes Europe’s leading role in wildlife restoration, and then looks ahead to ponder the continent’s future: with advancements in gene editing technology, European scientists are working to recreate some of the continent’s lost creatures, such as the great ox of Europe’s primeval forests and even the woolly mammoth.

Written with Flannery’s characteristic combination of elegant prose and scientific expertise, Europe: A Natural History narrates the dramatic natural history and dynamic evolution of one of the most influential places on Earth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802129161
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Tim Flannery is a scientist, explorer, and conservationist. He has published more than 130 scientific papers and several books, including the #1 international bestseller The Weather Makers, Throwim Way Leg, Here on Earth, and Among the Islands. He was named Australian of the Year in 2007, and from 2001 to 2013, he was Australia’s Climate Commissioner.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

I The Tropical Archipelago

100-34 Million Years Ago

1 Destination Europe 9

2 Hateg's First Explorer 14

3 Dwarfish, Degenerate Dinosaurs 23

4 Islands at the Crossroads of the World 27

5 Origins and Ancient Europeans 31

6 The Midwife Toad 36

7 The Great Catastrophe 43

8 A Post-Apocalyptic World 48

9 New Dawn, New Invasions 54

10 Messel-a Window into the Past 62

11 The European Great Coral Reef 67

12 Tales from the Sewers of Paris 71

II Becoming Continental

34-2.6 Million Years Ago

13 La Grande Coupure 81

14 Cats, Birds and Olms 89

15 The Marvellous Miocene 94

16 A Miocene Bestiary 102

17 Europe's Extraordinary Apes 110

18 The First Upright Apes 114

19 Lakes and Islands 122

20 The Messinian Salinity Crisis 129

21 The Pliocene-Time of Laocoon 133

III Ice Ages

2.6 Million-38,000 Years Ago

22 The Pleistocene-Gateway to the Modern World 145

23 Hybrids-Europe, the Mother of Metissage 154

24 Return of the Upright Apes 162

25 Neanderthals 168

26 Bastards 178

27 The Cultural Revolution 184

28 Of Assemblages and Elephants 191

29 Other Temperate Giants 198

30 Ice Beasts 204

31 What the Ancestors Drew 213

IV Human Europe

38,000 Years Ago to the Future

32 The Balance Tips 225

33 The Domesticators 233

34 From the Horse to Roman Failure 239

35 Emptying the Islands 245

36 The Cairn and the Storm 251

37 Survivors 259

38 Europe's Global Expansion 267

39 New Europeans 272

40 Animals of Empire 277

41 Europe's Bewolfing 285

42 Europe's Silent Spring 293

43 Rewilding 298

44 Re-creating Giants 307

Envoi 315

Acknowledgments 317

Endnotes 319

Index 347

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