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Extinctions in the History of Life
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  • 62 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 0 pages

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 (ISBN-13: 9780511252822)

Extinction is the ultimate fate of all biological species - over 99 percent of the species that have ever inhabited the Earth are now extinct. The long fossil record of life provides scientists with crucial information about when species became extinct, which species were most vulnerable to extinction, and what processes may have brought about extinctions in the geological past. Key aspects of extinctions in the history of life are here reviewed by six leading palaeontologists, providing a source text for geology and biology undergraduates as well as more advanced scholars. Topical issues such as the causes of mass extinctions and how animal and plant life has recovered from these cataclysmic events that have shaped biological evolution are dealt with. This helps us to view the biodiversity crisis in a broader context, and shows how large-scale extinctions have had profound and long-lasting effects on the Earth's biosphere.

• Reviews topical issues such as the biodiversity crisis • An excellent introduction and overview for undergraduates and more advanced students • Written by key researchers


Notes on contributors; Preface; 1. Extinction and the fossil record Paul D. Taylor; 2. Extinctions in life's earliest history J. William Schopf; 3. Mass extinctions in plant evolution Scott L. Wing; 4. The beginning of the Mesozoic: 70 million years of environmental stress and extinction David J. Bottjer; 5. Causes of mass extinctions Paul D. Wignall; 6. The evolutionary role of mass extinctions: disaster, recovery and something in-between David Jablonski; Glossary; Index.


'… sometimes the simplest of truths need to be pointed out to you. Reading Extinctions in the History of Life certainly worked as an eye-opener. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each chapter provided light and yet highly informative reading. It is the type of book you would recommend to any student, wishing you had had more of those in your own student days. Part of the appeal of the book is that none of the specialists loses himself in details. The content is well-suited for its primary goal, giving undergraduate students insight in the state of affairs concerning extinction research. A book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone interested in the history of life.' PalArch, Netherlands Scientific Journal

'… editor Paul D. Taylor and an all-star cast of contributors have transcended synthesis to weave a cautionary tale about the modern biodiversity crisis. Woven through the discussion of past extinctions is a message for today.' Trends in Ecology and Evolution

' … students will find it a particularly useful selection and introduction … an excellent choice for departmental libraries and those who want a good general introduction to these particular topics.' Journal of Geological Magazine

'This book is certainly an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to engage with the literature on mass extinction, but I can also imagine it being extremely useful to those who are already familiar with at least some of the literature … I certainly found it fascinating and valuable … A very readable and well-illustrated volume at a reasonable price. Highly recommended.' Journal of Paleolimnology


Paul D. Taylor, William Schopf, Scott L. Wing, David J. Bottjer, Paul D. Wignall, David Jablonski

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