The Late Devonian Mass Extinction: The Frasnian/Famennian Crisis (The Critical Moments and Perspectives in Earth History and Paleobiology) Paperback – 27 Mar 1996
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"McGhee thoroughly assesses knowledge about the Late Devonian mass extinction, during which at least 70 percent of species vanished. The text is so comprehensive and well written, though, that it could serve as a basic resource for thinking about all extinctions, mass or otherwise: the severity of the extinction, its duration, the various organisms affected, and likely causes. His approach is based first on a description of the evidence, and then on an analysis of the hypotheses... The objectivity of the book is enhanced by the author's willingness to even disagree with his own previous work... Anyone interested in extinctions should have this book." -- "Choice"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Where the author goes wrong is in his belief in that this extinction event was the result of a meteor impact. Just taking the data presented in this book shows that the theory doesn't hold up. The timing doesn't work (the event took over a million years). Isotopic (iridium) data doesn't support it. The impact craters are too small and at the wrong points in time. The pattern of extinction does not match what would be expected from a major impact event. The list goes on and on. The author tries gamely to explain away the irregularities but by the end of the book I found it clear that the extinction was almost without question not the result of an impact.
That said this is a good book. The author covers the time period and the event in exceptional detail and does cover many of the other competing theories very well. It's just unfortunate that the author could not set aside his cherished preconceptions. But perhaps that is a tough thing to ask for any of us.
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