Saturday, October 10, 2009

Five best books on extinction

Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum and author of The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived, named a five best list of books on extinction for the Wall Street Journal.

Number One on the list:
On the Origin of Species
by Charles Darwin

Last week saw news about the formal presentation of Ardipithecus ramidus, or "Ardi," a 4.4-million-year-old pre-human whose fossils were found in Ethiopia. The discovery of our extinct relative brought to mind Charles Darwin's observation in "On the Origin of Species" about the importance of extinction: In the process of natural selection, he wrote, the "extinction of old forms and the production of new and improved forms are intimately connected together." As he traveled in South America, Darwin marveled at the fossil evidence of species extinction. Sudden, catastrophic mass extinctions had no place in his scheme—they were illusions, he thought, created by gaps in the fossil record. Darwin's vision of extinction saw it exclusively as the outcome of competition: New species simply outdid earlier versions in the struggle for existence.
Read about another book on the list.

See: the five best books about Charles Darwin.

--Marshal Zeringue