No turning back: the life and death of animal species by Richard Ellis

By Richard Ellis

A famous naturalist's attention-grabbing inquiry into the lifestyles and loss of life of animal species with reference to each species that has ever lived on the earth is extinct. The trilobites, which ruled the sea flooring for three hundred million years, are long gone. The final of the dinosaurs used to be burnt up by way of a Mount Everest-sized meteorite that slammed into the earth sixty five million years in the past. the nice flying reptiles are long gone, and so are the marine reptiles, a few of them higher than a humpback whale. prior to people crossed the Bering land bridge a few 15,000 years in the past, North the US was once populated by means of mastodons, mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and cave bears. They too are MIA. Passenger pigeons as soon as flew over North the USA in flocks that numbered within the billions; the final one died in 1914. during this publication you'll meet creatures that have been pushed to extinction much more lately, in addition to a few that have been introduced again from the edge. you are going to even come upon animals no longer identified to exist till lately -- an antidote to extinction.

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During prolonged drought, for instance, those with even slightly longer beaks are better able to reach the tiniest of seeds. Even more fascinating, the Grants have documented changes in DNA among their birds, leading Weiner to declare that “Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. He vastly underestimated the power of natural selection. Its action is neither rare nor slow. ” In recent years speciation at an astonishingly rapid rate has been observed in cichlid fishes, especially those that live in Africa’s Lakes Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika.

The three-foot-long mesosaurs were shaped rather like crocodiles, though their long, thin jaws were equipped with needlelike teeth that formed a kind of sieve allowing them to strain small organisms out of the water, rather like baleen whales. Ninety to ninety-five percent of marine species were eliminated as a result of the Permian event. The primary marine and terrestrial victims included the fusulinid foraminifera, trilobites, rugose and tabulate corals, blastoids, acanthodians, placoderms, and pelycosaurs, none of which survived beyond the Permian boundary.

The record of jawless fishes extends all the way back to the Cambrian, but the appearance of jaws made it possible for these later fishes to eat larger prey than their jawless predecessors; they blossomed into the armored placoderms and arthrodires. Stanley believes that “since the environmental effects of an impact would have been relatively short-lived, it cannot completely account for a crisis that probably lasted for at least two million years. ” He also does not think that decreases in shallow sea floor acreage—brought about by the exposure of continental shelves by falling sea levels—is much of a factor either.

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