All humans are fascinated by their origins, and this comprehensive book traces an extraordinary journey, spanning 4 billion years, from the emergence of bacteria to the rise of the species that coexist today. Evolution: The Whole Story equips you with everything you need to know about the development and survival of life on Earth.
Our understanding of evolution has a profound effect on our appreciation of the natural world. The plants and animals alive today account for only one per cent of the species that have ever lived, and this book will enable you to understand why and how the other 99 per cent perished. Here you will encounter pivotal evolutionary turning points, uncover false starts and global disasters, and trace the crucial scientific breakthroughs that have contributed to our understanding of this planet and the creatures on it.
• A complete account of all major life groups, from early single-celled organisms to the emergence of today’s species
• Chronological timelines plot key evolutionary events and discoveries for each major group
• A spectacular variety of images, including fossils, skeletons, life-like reconstructions and living plants and animals
• Profiles of the scientists who made major contributions to our understanding of evolution
Beginning with single-celled organisms, then discussing plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals and humans, each chapter presents essays on particular subgroups. Photographic features then investigate organisms in detail, with reference to the ways in which their anatomy suited their environment, the factors that necessitated adaptation – or caused their demise – and their evolutionary legacies. Extinct species are analysed with reference to fossil specimens, reassembled skeletons and reconstructions, while living creatures are compared to their ancestors.
Learn about the giant spiders that prowled the seas until 250 million years ago; the sharks that changed little in 400 million years; the carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed during the Cretaceous period; the terror birds that gave rise to ostriches; and the complex evolution of the horse. Helpful cladograms clarify relationships between each animal or plant group. Theorists, fossil-hunters, palaeontologists and geneticists have all contributed to the unravelling of this complex subject, and here, profiles of eminent figures place important discoveries in their historical context.