Evolution on Planet Earth: The Impact of the Physical Environment

9780123884893: Evolution on Planet Earth: The Impact of the Physical Environment

Driving evolution forward, the Earth's physical environment has challenged the very survival of organisms and ecosystems throughout the ages. With a fresh new perspective, Evolution on Planet Earth shows how these physical realities and hurdles shaped the primary phases of life on the planet. The book's thorough coverage also includes chapters on more proximate factors and paleoenvironmental events that influenced the diversity of life. A team of notable ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and paleontologists join forces to describe drifting continents, extinction events, and climate change - important topics that continue to shape Earth's inhabitants to this very day. In a world where global change has become an international issue, this book provides a several billion-year evolutionary perspective on what the environment and environmental change means to life.

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Book Description:

A provocative view of the origin, evolution, and distribution of living things on planet Earth.

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The Popular conception of evolution as Tennyson's "Nature, red in tooth and claw" envisions one organism pitted agains the other in a struggle for survival. Yet, increased knowledge of the physical history of the Earth, the present physical limits for life, and the realization that we are living in a time of rapid human-induced environmental change, make the time ripe to revisit physical influences as drivers of evolution. This is particularly relevant to the issue of searching for life in what are seen as extreme envitonments on present earth, in the distant past and near future and searching for life on other bodies such as Europa and Mars. Thus, the time is right to examine the role of the physical environment in shaping evolution. The editors invited top researchers to assess key events in evolution, from the origin of life to human evolution and the potential for life to evolve elsewhere and gauge the role of the physical environment. The results are surprising as the reader is left with the view that the environment has molded events from evolution to extinctions and even human culture.

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Published by Academic Press
ISBN 10: 0123884896 ISBN 13: 9780123884893
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