Islands in the Cosmos: The Evolution of Life on Land (Life of the Past)
By: Dale A. Russell (author)Hardback
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How is it that we came to be here? The search for answers to that question has preoccupied humans for millennia. Scientists have sought clues in the genes of living things, in the physical environments of Earth from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean, in the chemistry of this world and those nearby, in the tiniest particles of matter, and in the deepest reaches of space. In Islands of the Cosmos, Dale A. Russell traces a path from the dawn of the universe to speculations about our future on this planet. He centers his story on the physical and biological processes in evolution, which interact to favor more successful, and eliminate less successful, forms of life. Marvelously, these processes reveal latent possibilities in life's basic structure, and propel a major evolutionary theme: the increasing proficiency of biological function. It remains to be seen whether the human form can survive the dynamic processes that brought it into existence. Yet the emergence of the ability to acquire knowledge from experience, to optimize behavior, to conceptualize, to distinguish "good" from "bad" behavior all hint at an evolutionary outcome that science is only beginning to understand.
Dale A. Russell is senior curator of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and author of A Vanished World: The Dinosaurs of Western Canada and An Odyssey in Time: The Dinosaurs of North America.
Foreword by Simon Conway Morris Preface Acknowledgments 1. Time Travel 2. The Extraterrestrial Pre-Hadean 3. The Hadean Eon 4. The Archean Eon 5. The Proterozoic Eon 6. Phanerozoic Marine Life 7. Origin of Complex Terrestrial Ecosystems 8. Toward the Coal Age 9. Ascendancy of Life on Land 10. Bridging the Eras 11. The Natural History of Natural Selection 12. An Age of Giants 13. One Earth, Two Worlds 14. The Modern Earth 15. Synthesis Epilogue: The Way of Life References Index
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- ID: 9780253352736
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