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A New History of Life: The Radical New…

A New History of Life: The Radical New Discoveries about the Origins and… (2015)

by Peter Ward, Joe Kirschvink

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An interesting and somewhat controversial "new" history of life. The authors focus most of their attention on the roles of oxygen and CO2 in the evolution of life, sometimes to the neglect of other potential factors. The origin of life itself is little more than just re-hashed and defunct ideas that have long been shown to not work, but given that origin of life research has seen no useful breakthroughs, this is not surprising. As for the evolution of life once it arose, their is story similar to that of other accounts, with the exception that it was more focused on oxygen and CO2, as already noted. I think some of their unique insights may stand the test of time, while others will pass as better explanations come along.

One other thing that annoyed me somewhat was their attempt to make the topic more accessible to the general reader, which lead to sloppy use of some simpler seeming terminology, while still using a lot of inaccessible terminology in a lot of cases. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
A rather detailed account of life on Earth, how it might have emerged and how and under what circumstances it evolved over time. It was a bit too much for my level of expertise on the subject, but if this is your subject of interest, it provides a good timeline.

I noted some copy edit errors including a couple of cases in which 'million' should have been 'billion'. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
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Peter Wardprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kirschvink, Joemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 160819907X, Hardcover)

Charles Darwin's theories, first published more than 150 years ago, still set the paradigm of how we understand the evolution of life-but scientific advances of recent decades have radically altered that understanding. In fact the currently accepted history of life on Earth is flawed and out of date. Now two pioneering scientists, one already an award-winning popular author, deliver an eye-opening narrative that synthesizes a generation's worth of insights from new research.

Writing with zest, humor, and clarity, Ward and Kirschvink show that many of our long-held beliefs about the history of life are wrong. Three central themes emerge from the narrative. First, the development of life was not a stately, gradual process: Catastrophe, argue Ward and Kirschvink, shaped life's history more than all other forces combined-from notorious events like the sudden extinction of dinosaurs to recently discovered ones like “Snowball Earth” and the “Great Oxygenation Event.” One startling possibility: that life arrived on Earth from Mars. Second, life consists of carbon, but three other molecules have determined how it evolved: oxygen, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide are carbon's silent partners. Third, ever since Darwin we have thought of evolution in terms of species. Yet it is the evolution of ecosystems-from deep-ocean vents to rainforests-that has formed the living world as we know it.

Drawing on their years of experience in paleontology, biology, chemistry, and astrobiology, Ward and Kirschvink tell a story of life on Earth that is at once too fabulous to imagine and too familiar to dismiss. And in a provocative coda, they assemble discoveries from the latest cutting-edge research to imagine how the history of life might unfold deep into the future.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:33 -0400)

"The history of life on Earth is, in some form or another, known to us all-- or so we think. [This book] offers a provocative new account, based on the latest scientific research, of how modern lifeforms evolved"--Amazon.com.

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