The Great Extinctions

What causes them and how they shape life

Norman MacLeod

An in-depth guide to species extinctions and their many causes and impacts, by Museum expert Norman MacLeod.

ISBN:
978 0 565 09278 8
Format:
Paperback
Price:
£14.99
Published:
March 2013
Size:
253 x 192 mm
Extent:
208 pp
Illustrations:
Maps, diagrams and photographs throughout
Publisher:
Natural History Museum

Details

For over a century scientists have tried to identify and understand the processes responsible for the complex history of species extinction. This search has become even more important over the last decade as human populations and human technology may now rival sea-level change, volcanic eruptions, and asteroid impacts as extinction mechanisms. The Great Extinctions explores the history of that search, its subjects, its controversies, its current conclusions, and the meaning of those conclusions for our efforts to preserve the Earth’s current biodiversity.

Life’s rich tapestry has escalated over time, despite several major setbacks. In total some 1,000–3,000 million species are estimated to have appeared during Earth’s history, yet only 12.5 million currently exist today. This means that the overwhelming majority of species that have ever lived are now extinct. 

In The Great Extinctions leading palaeontologist Norman MacLeod reveals how, contrary to popular conception, species extinction is as natural a process as species evolution. Examining extinction over geological time, he compares ancient extinction events and uses them to predict what might happen in the future. 

Featuring the latest evidence on the subject and informative illustrations and diagrams throughout, The Great Extinctions is a comprehensive guide to extinctions, their causes and their effects on evolutionary processes.

See inside

Look inside this book to get an idea of its content. 

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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.

About the exhibition

Extinction: Not the End of the World? is open from 8 February to 8 September 2013.

What does extinction mean to you? Death, the end? Or maybe a new start?

In this exhibition, astonishing images, real specimens and interactive installations will bring to life some of the amazing lost species. It will highlight those endangered today, as well as the remarkable stories of survivors of mass extinctions.

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