New in paperback. Hardcover was publsihed in 2003. Presents a comprehensive and well-illustrated guide to the story of life, from the origin of the earth to the present day.
How did life begin? What was 'snowball earth'? Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? Are we all descended from 'African Eve'? Will humans be responsible for the next major extinction? These and many other fundamental questions are addressed in this masterly account of The Story of Life, by eminent biologist and teacher Richard Southwood.The story unfolds with the formation of the earth around four thousand million years ago. Life first emerged a hundred million years later, and it took another fifteen million years for more complex life-forms to appear. Periods of relative calm were punctuated by five major extinctions, with innumerable minor jolts along the way. Then, five million years ago, an able ape evolved that gradually came to dominate and control the other animals and plants. The future now lies in the hands of thissingle species, Homo sapiens.In this carefully crafted story, Southwood's love of his subject, and for the life he describes, shines through, to engage and inform scientist and general reader alike.
Introduction ; 1. Special chemistry ; 2. A quick start ; 3. Cells with Nuclei ; 4. Jellyfish, polyps and worms? ; 5. Claws, rasps and shells ; 6. Sand, mud and shallow seas ; 7. The giant continent forms ; 8. A sparse start ; 9. The world of the dinosaurs ; 10. Today's world dawns ; 11. The evolution of the able ape ; 12. Humans - the great modifiers ; Further reading ; Acknowledgements ; Index