Evolutionary Catastrophes: The Science of Mass Extinction

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Vincent Courtillot, «Evolutionary Catastrophes: The Science of Mass Extinction»
Cambridge University Press | ISBN 0521891183 | Reprint edition (March 18, 2002) | PDF | 2,37 Mb | 188 pages




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From Publishers Weekly:

Originally published in France in 1995, this slim volume by a professor of geology at the University of Paris attempts to explain the causes of mass extinctions that have occurred over the past 300 million years. Courtillot does a superb job of presenting evidence for and against the two most likely factors: collisions of large asteroids with the earth and extensive volcanic activity. Although the popular belief is that asteroids are responsible, Courtillot argues persuasively that all available data are more consistent with the volcanic theory. Indeed, seven of the world's mass extinctions occurred when volcanic activity was at its peak, while only one, the extinction that took place 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs, among many other species, appears to have coincided with the impact of a major asteroid. Courtillot also discusses the personalities of some of the leading figures on both sides of the debate, as well as the nature of science. The book is fairly technical, however, so its appeal to a general readership may be limited. Illustrations. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review:

'… a beautifully written little book that, once picked up, is impossible to put down.' Geoscientist
' … watch this space and read this book.' Bob White, New Scientist
'The book is very readable and provides a clear and concise picture for anyone interested in the subject. The text is well written and supported by clear footnotes where necessary and a comprehensive glossary … recommend this book for those at any stage in their studies or knowledge. It is written for a general audience but should not be missed by professionals.' Mike Hermolle, Open University Geological Society Journal

Book Description:

Why did the dinosaurs and two-thirds of all living species vanish from the face of the Earth sixty-five million years ago? Throughout the history of life a small number of catastrophic events have caused mass extinction, and changed the path of evolution forever. Two main theories have emerged to account for these dramatic events: asteroid impact, and massive volcanic eruptions, both leading to nuclear-like winter. In recent years, the impact hypothesis has gained precedence, but Vincent Courtillot suggests that cataclysmic volcanic activity can be linked not only to the K-T mass extinction, but to most of the main mass extinction events in the history of the Earth. Courtillot's book debunks some of the myths surrounding one of the most controversial arguments in science. This story will fascinate everyone interested in the history of life and death on our planet.

Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French


About the Author:

Vincent Courtillot is Professor of Geophysics at the University of Paris, heads a research group at Institut de Physique du Globe and is special advisor to the French Ministry of National Education, Research and Technology.