History of Life is not just for students, but for everyone interested in the history of life on our planet. Paleontology, the study of ancient life, requires some knowledge of biology, ecology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. However, the average person can have access to it without deep scientific training.
This book serves three audiences: it is an introduction to palaeontology; a general education course that introduces nonspecialists to science and scientific thought; and an introduction to the history of life for biologists who know a lot about the present and little about the past.
The author's aim is ambitious: to take you to the edges of our knowledge in palaeontology; to show you how life has evolved on Earth,;and to explain how we have constructed the history of that evolution from the record of rocks and fossils.
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End chapter questions.
End chapter references.
Used Book in Good Condition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author knows his stuff, and is one of those often uncommon professors who not only knows his subject 110%, but can present it in a clear, interesting and concise fashion, with numerous diagrams and photographs to illuminate facts. All of the hundreds of illustrations are in B&W, and most are not too large, but they add a lot to the presentation and are carefully selected. No matter how much you have read on the history of life on earth, there will be facts and theories in this book you have not seen before. He covers life from the very beginning, before the Cambrian, and discusses the evolution of both plants and animals, climate zones and how the movement of continents change climate, and the full range of critters: therapsids, diapsids, multituberculates, dicynodonts, etc., along with extinctions, mentioning the possible development of a oxygen depleted Panthalassa ocean (the only ocean at that time as all the continents were fused), a theory of Isozaki (p 99) contributing to...
Dr Cowen has fashioned this book from instruction materials for his undergraduate biology classes at the University of California Davis. As such it assume the reader has had at least a basic college-level course in one of the life sciences. Even so there is much...really too much.... to absorb for a first time read, but what I liked about his approach was they way he addresses the biological problems and theories to explain many of the important evolutionary leaps that have occurred over the past almost 4 billion years in which life forms of one type or another have existed. Examples are many but include: origin of "life" from lifeless chemicals and their environments.; origin of eukaryotic cells (those with nucleii, internal membranes and organelles) from their prokaryotic (bacterial) predessors; origin of multicelluar lifeforms... of animals and plants of vertebrates, adaptations to survive on land. etc all the way up to the evolution of humanoids and Homo...
The author was a former professor, who amused me and taught me a lot, so I'm predisposed to like the book. Delivered as promised, in the condition advertised and on-time.
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