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|All Authors / Contributors:||
David M Raup
|Description:||xvii, 210 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm|
|Contents:||Part 1 Almost all species are extinct: is extinction important? bad genes or bad luck? the nature of extinction; who studies extinction? a word about the word; species defined; the purpose of extinction, if any. Part 2 A brief history of life: origin of life; complex life; the quality of the fossil record; 600 million years of fussing; a stock market analogy; trilobite eyes; tropical reefs; flying reptiles; human evolution; living fossils. Part 3 Gambler's ruin and other problems: gambling; concepts of randomness; gambling for survival; differing extinction and speciation rates; skewed histograms; other models; a note on extinction of surnames. Part 4 Mass extinctions: the K-T mass extinction; measuring extinction; a note on killing; duration of mass extinctions; do mass extinctions differ from background; the kill curve. Part 5 Selectivity of extinction: Ice Age Blitzkrieg; selectivity of the Blitzkrieg; body size and the K-T extinction; other examples of bias; other examples of selectivity; the Trilobites' bad genes; some implications; summary. Part 6 The search for causes: the rarity of extinction; just so stories; beware of anthropomorphism!; the kill curve revisited. Part 7 Biological causes of extinction: are species and ecosystems fragile? the case of the heath hen; importance of the first strike; problems of small populations; competition; species-area effects; species-area and past extinctions; the great American interchange; the history of tropical rain forests. Part 8 Physical causes of extinction: traditional favourites; sea level and climate; species-area effects; testing sea level and climate; the Pleistocene experience; exotic physical causes; unheard-of volcanism; cosmic causes. Part 9 Rocks falling out of the sky: cratering rates; destructive power; Alvarez and the K-T extinction; periodicity of extinction and nemesis. Part 10 Could all the extinctions be caused by meteorite impact? plausibility arguments; arguments from observation; extinctions are linked to craters; extinctions are not linked to craters; assessment. Part 11 Perspectives on extinction: how to become extinct; wanton extinction; the role of extinction in evolution; bad genes or bad luck?; a note on extinctions today. Epilogue: did we choose a safe planet?.|
|Responsibility:||David M. Raup.|
"An eminently entertaining and informative read." -- Malcolm W. Browne - New York Times Book Review "A delightful little book about life on this planet and about extinctions, in particular. It is as