A (Very) Short History of Life On Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters

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A (Very) Short History of Life On Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters

A (Very) Short History of Life On Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters

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The Holocene started about 11,000 years ago and contains our approximately 5,000 years of recorded history. As a senior editor at Nature, Henry Gee has had a front-row seat to the most important fossil discoveries of the last quarter century. The book is hinted with rare segments of well-written story-telling, and I acknowledge the author’s attempt to appeal biology to the mass reader, using analogies and clear-cut notations.

When the supply of available hydrogen began to run low, the star began to fuse helium into atoms of heavier elements such as carbon and oxygen.The author provides brief, and sometimes surprising, glimpses into the lives of various plants and animals from the earliest points in evolutionary history up to the present day. Henry Gee’s whistle-stop account of the story of life (and death ― lots of death) on Earth is both fun and informative. I loved that as he moved through the evolution Henry Gee didn’t just focus on the animal life, he looked at the plant life as well. I could potentially push through the book but it would not be an enjoyable read, no matter how useful.

The scale is apparent from the first of a set of mind-boggling timeline graphics: this runs from the birth of the universe to ‘Extinction of life on Earth’, alarmingly close to the dotted line indicating ‘NOW’. All life will be extinct within a billion years from now as the Sun expands and possibly engulfs our planet.

Glaciers will grind on and recede, the Sun will grow, and eventually humans will die out sometime before all the carbon dioxide generated by the frantic activity finally seeps away.

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