The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
Bargain Book Copy
A vivid tour of Earth’s Big Five mass extinctions, the past worlds lost with each, and what they all can tell us about our not-too-distant future
Was it really an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs? Or carbon dioxide–driven climate change? In fact, scientists now suspect that climate change played a major role, not only in the end of the age of dinosaurs, but also in each of the five most deadly mass extinctions in the history of the planet. Struck by the implications of this for our own future, Peter Brannen, along with some of the world’s leading paleontologists, dives into deep time, exploring each of Earth’s five dead ends, and in the process, offers us a glimpse of what’s to come.
Using the visible clues these extinctions have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside the "scenes of the crime," from South Africa’s Karoo Desert to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction. Brannen examines the fossil record - which is rife with fantastic creatures like dragonflies the size of seagulls and guillotine-mouthed fish - and introduces us to the researchers on the frontlines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the sites of Earth’s past devastations.
As our civilization continues to test the wherewithal of our climate, we need to figure out where the hard limits are before it’s too late. Part road trip, part history, and part cautionary tale, The Ends of the World takes us on a tour of the ways that our planet has clawed itself back from the grave, allowing us to better understand our future by shining a light on our past.
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