Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago by Douglas H. Erwin

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Read Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago Online Free - Some 250 million years ago, the earth suffered the greatest biological crisis in its history. Around 95% of all living species died out--a global catastrophe far greater than the dinosaurs' demise 65 million years ago. How this happened remains a mystery. But there are many competing theories. Some blame huge volcanic eruptions that covered an area as large as the continental United States; others argue for sudden changes in ocean levels and chemistry, including burps of methane gas; and still others cite the impact of an extraterrestrial object, similar to what caused the dinosaurs' extinction.

"Extinction" is a paleontological mystery story. Here, the world's foremost authority on the subject provides a fascinating overview of the evidence for and against a whole host of hypotheses concerning this cataclysmic event that unfolded at the end of the Permian.

After setting the scene, Erwin introduces the suite of possible perpetrators and the types of evidence paleontologists seek. He then unveils the actual evidence--moving from China, where much of the best evidence is found; to a look at extinction in the oceans; to the extraordinary fossil animals of the Karoo Desert of South Africa. Erwin reviews the evidence for each of the hypotheses before presenting his own view of what happened.

Although full recovery took tens of millions of years, this most massive of mass extinctions was a powerful creative force, setting the stage for the development of the world as we know it today.

Title : Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0691005249
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 pages


Steve rated it ★★★★☆

April 21, 2014

This could easily have been a 5-star book for me if the author had done a little better job of keeping his audience in mind. Clearly it is not written just for the academics as he often does a very good job of explaining geologic concepts in layman's terms. At other times though, he leaves you st...

Ash rated it ★★★☆☆

November 28, 2013

Deliberates the evidence for possible causes of the end Permian extinction and compares it to more well known extinction events. This book is actually quite interesting, now that I've had time to process it. While reading I felt bogged down with all the information - it is probably as well organi...

Hannah rated it ★★★★☆

May 21, 2017

Brilliantly written book, I just wish I could have understood more of it. A majority of the concepts are explained well, however there are points in the book where I became entirely lost. For an academic, or even a self-professed science geek, Erwin's language and graphs may go right over your he...

Tony rated it ★★★☆☆

June 19, 2017

Very interesting look at the subject of the greatest extinction the planet has ever faced and a good look at the different theories and the pros and cons of each. It would be interesting to see what the current state of thinking is with this as a background. As an introduction it is up there with...

Keith rated it ★★★☆☆

December 07, 2016

“Extinction” is a good book, but wasn’t that helpful to me. It was way over my head. I read along as best I could, hoping to pick up something that I might be able to connect with and tie to the rest, but while I am pretty sure that this guy is REALLY smart, it was largely futile. Hey, paleontolo...

Chris rated it ★★☆☆☆

February 10, 2015

I wanted to like it more than I did. Maybe I should give it three stars, but much of it I didn't get anything out of. The book tackles the biggest mass extinction in the fossil record - about 250 million years ago. Early on, the book goes over the fossil record basics and the main competing theor...

Charles rated it ★★★☆☆

July 04, 2015

I took an unconscionably long time to finish this book. I haven't decided whether it was the author or me who bogged down about half-way through. Up to that point, however, I was enjoying this description of the science behind what we know of the enormous extinction event at the end of the Permia...

Vanessa rated it ★★★★☆

February 06, 2009

This is a great overview of the hypotheses put forward to explain the end-Permian mass extinction. This extinction was the largest of the five mass extinctions in earth's history, and, as Erwin says in the title, nearly ended life on this planet. Erwin is thorough and does his best to break down t...

Susan rated it ★★★★☆

October 29, 2013

Excellent, balanced, and very readable review of the evidence surrounding the end-Permian mass extinction event (or events, as the author points out); Erwin deals with all the major competing theories in an even-handed manner, gracefully laying out the facts and discoveries. His writing is clear...

Jesseb rated it ★★★☆☆

June 10, 2010

A detailed and even-handed exploration of the events that triggered the rise of the dinosaurs. There seems to have been some consensus in the field about what triggered the mighty climate change that paved teh way for the dinos emergence, but this is an interesting snapshot into a rarified scient...

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