No Turning Back

Richard Ellis

Published by HarperCollins, 2005
ISBN 10: 0060558040 / ISBN 13: 9780060558048
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Nearly every species that has lived on earth is extinct. The last of the dinosaurs was wiped out after a Mount Everest-sized meteorite slammed into the earth 65 million years ago. The great flying and marine reptiles are no more. Before humans crossed the Bering Land Bridge some 15,000 years ago, North America was populated by mastodons, mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and cave bears. They too are MIA. The passenger pigeon, once the most numerous bird in North America, is gone forever.

In No Turning Back, renowned naturalist Richard Ellis explores the life and death of animal species, immortalizing creatures that were driven to extinction thousands of years ago and those more recently. He documents those that were brought back from the brink, and most surprisingly, he reveals animals not known to exist until the twentieth century - an antidote to extinction.

Review: In No Turning Back, Richard Ellis makes a survey of animals that have disappeared through anthropogenic or other means. "Everybody knows what extinction is," he writes, but theories of why it happens are hampered by "the inability of biologists and paleontologists to agree on exactly what a species is." Still, Ellis manages to pick perfect examples to show how extinctions happen in the natural world, and how humans unnecessarily contribute to some of them. It's hard to look at the careful illustrations of long-gone animals such as the Irish elk, Steller's sea cow, quagga, or even the dodo, without feeling that the world would be better with some of them around. Ellis also introduces little-known species currently close to extinction, such as the spot-tailed quoll, the bilby, and the saiga, to add to the list of well-known threatened animals such as the white rhinocerous or the orangutan. Ending on an optimistic note, Ellis tells how some animals have been brought back from the brink of extinction through hard work, careful conservation, and lots of money. A master of the shocking ecological fact, and a thoroughly accessible and engaging narrator of the natural world, Ellis has succeeded in explaining extinction and its causes by showing readers what there was to love about creatures long gone. --Therese Littleton

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Title: No Turning Back
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2005
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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