By Michael J. Benton

ISBN-10: 0199226326

ISBN-13: 9780199226320

This is the intense tale of the unfolding of lifestyles in the world, informed by way of Michael J. Benton, a world-renowned authority on biodiversity. Ranging over 4 billion years, Benton weaves jointly the newest findings on fossils, earth historical past, evolutionary biology, and plenty of different fields to focus on the nice leaps that enabled existence to adapt from microbe to human--big breakthroughs that made complete new methods of existence possible--including cellphone department and multicellularity, difficult skeletons, the stream to land, the beginning of forests, the stream to the air.

He describes the mass extinctions, particularly the Permian, which obliterated ninety% of existence, and he sheds mild at the origins of people, and of the various hominids that went prior to us. He ends through mentioning that learning the previous is helping us to foretell the long run: what occurs if the ambience warms by way of five levels? What occurs if we damage a lot of the biodiversity in the world? this stuff have occurred sooner than, Benton notes. we'd like purely glance to the far-off prior to grasp the way forward for existence in the world.

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Additional info for The History of Life: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Example text

We also avoid complicated calculations. I believe that the simple m e t h o d I am going to describe gives at least as good an indication of the athletic ability of dinosaurs as any other m e t h o d so far invented. I m u s t m a k e my assumptions clear. T h e first assumption is that dinosaurs moved m u c h like modern animals. More precisely, I will ass u m e that the m o v e m e n t s of dinosaurs were dynamically similar to those of modern m a m m a l s , traveling at the same dimensionless speed.

S o m e w e i g h t s a n d m e a s u r e m e n t s of large m a m m a l s . Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1938A:433-439. N i s h i w a k i , M. 1950. On t h e b o d y w e i g h t s of w h a l e s . Scientific Reports on Whales of the Research Institute Tokyo 4 : 1 8 4 - 2 0 9 . Ill Dinosaur Footprints O F A L L that remains of dinosaurs, their footprints bring the animals most vividly to life. Fossil bones may remind us of a rotting carcass, but footprints are evidence of a living, moving animal.

We would find that higher speeds produced bigger stresses and we would be able to e s t i m a t e the speeds at which the bones would break if the muscles could m a k e the animals run so fast. M a x i m u m running speeds would be less t h a n this, allowing some margin of safety. Such calculations would raise all sorts of doubts. Did dinosaurs take long strides or short ones? H o w long did the foot remain on the ground, in each stride? Did they run w i t h their legs relatively straight like elephants or bent like smaller animals?

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The History of Life: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Michael J. Benton


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