cover image Extinction and Evolution: What Fossils Reveal About the History of Life

Extinction and Evolution: What Fossils Reveal About the History of Life

Niles Eldredge. Firefly Books, $45 (256p) ISBN 978-1-77085-359-1

In a world where science is under assault from many angles, this wonderfully illustrated account of how evolution "joins nature in all its disparity into a single flow" is both timely and authoritative. Author Eldredge (Life in the Balance), a renowned paleontologist, explains in accessible prose how fossils reveal the hidden history of life in the earth's ancient past. Fossils have been preserved in layered geological sediments, offering scientists the chance to record the eras when long-extinct creatures lived. Eldredge details how paleontology and genetics work together to reveal how the same evolutionary processes that drove the development of life over time continue to create the diversity of life on earth today. In seven chapters, he discusses the interconnected reasons for why life evolves, adapts, and dies out. Eldredge also covers key evolutionary concepts such as convergence (when natural selection produces similar organisms that nonetheless come from separate lineages), and he articulates why evolution explains the "pattern of similarity interlinking all forms of life." This book is richly illustrated with full-color photographs of fossils %E2%80%94 everything from trilobites to human ancestors %E2%80%94 and should appeal to both specialists as well as general readers. (Nov.)