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The Great Extinctions: What Causes Them and How They Shape Life Paperback – 21 Mar 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Natural History Museum (21 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0565092782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0565092788
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 1.2 x 25.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 379,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Professor Norman MacLeod is Dean of Postgraduate Studies and Training at the Natural History Museum, London. His research involves studies of extinction, the origin and evolution of form in fossils and modern organisms, and the distribution of ancient and modern species in time. He is the author of numerous books, technical reports and review articles on the subject of extinction.


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Format: Paperback
This is the kind of book that one would expect to see displayed on the stands within the Natural History Museum in London, which is the academic home of the author. Its artistic rendition on the front cover of various dinosaurs (the modern icon for 'Extinction') together with lots of photos and illustrations within the covers, suggests it might even be suitable for younger children. However, be warned, this is not a beginner's or children's book on the subject.

The book consists of 15 chapters:
1. What is extinction?
2. Evolution, fossils and extinction
3. Patterns in extinction data
4. Kinds of extinction
5. Causes of extinction
6. Precambrian and Cambrian extinctions
7. The End-Ordovician extinctions
8. The Late Devonian extinctions
9. The Late Permian extinctions
10. The Late Triassic extinctions
11. The End-Cretaceous extinctions
12. The Palaeogene extinctions
13. The Neogene and Quaternary extinctions
14. The modern and future extinctions
15. Summary and conclusions

Having studied (as opposed to casually simply reading) other books on the subject of extinction, I found the layout and explanations in this book to be quite exceptional. The technical details are clearly described and a reader who is willing to make the effort will be able to extract a considerable amount of information from this book, which might otherwise require more academic readings.

The structure of the book allows one to firstly appreciate exactly what extinction means at a technical level and to understand its causes and patterns.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thought provoking, logically presented, would advise getting to grips with some of the early chapters before approaching some of the chapters on the Great Extinctions. I didn't which left me frequently re-reading . The more prior knowledge of the subject you have the better, worth the effort.
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Format: Paperback
A very-well presented and clearly explained treatment of the way in which the fossil record shows the cycles of extinctions and renewal among living things in the past. Superb illustrations and use of examples are encountered throughout. Fully up-to-date in its use of chronology and key terms. I would strongly recommend this to anyone who is familiar with the subject (as I thought I was) as much as to someone who is trying to learn the basics.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Out of all the possible sources of information that I could find, this book stood high above all the others in its treatment of the topic. Highly recommended - right up to date from an authoritative source.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book and great service, I would use again and recommend to others
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