Historical Atlas of the Earth: A Visual Exploration of the Earth's Physical Past (Henry Holt Reference Book)

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9780805045529: Historical Atlas of the Earth: A Visual Exploration of the Earth's Physical Past (Henry Holt Reference Book)

The Earth has existed for more than 4600 million years, during this time continents have formed, broken up, collided and drifted apart. Land masses have been submerged, sea beds lifted up, mountain ranges and sea basins have formed. Plants and animals have appeared, evolved and disappeared. This atlas presents to the general reader the history of the Earth since its formation. The atlas draws on the latest scientific data to produce maps and illustrations which reconstruct the changing geography of the Earth.

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Intended as an "inspiring introduction" to geology--ideally for some future earth-scientist--this slim volume more than meets its goal. Organized around the sturdy divisions of geologic time, it tracks continental drift as inferred from fossils, paleomagnetism, radioactive dating, or glaciation. The editors portray the evidence in two-page color spreads devoted to a specific topic, for instance, rocks such as coal or limestone that characterize ancient epochs. Their visual highlights are global maps, accompanied by drawings of life-forms contemporary with the era under consideration. Of course, mass extinctions mark the major geologic divisions, such as the Paleozoic/Mesozoic boundary, which coincides with the assembly of the supercontinent Pangea 270 million years ago. That by itself, as plausibly as a cosmic impact, could have globally changed the climate, a point the editors make to impress upon the young rock-jock-to-be that the earth's history supports rival interpretations of events. The tyros who will work on furthering earth science may fondly remember devouring this excellent info-jammed atlas. Gilbert Taylor

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Gould, Stephen Jay
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (1996)
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Stephen Jay Gould, Robert Osborne (Editor), D. H. Tarling (Editor)
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