Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ten must-read books to understand the history of the Earth

At io9 Annalee Newitz tagged "ten books you must read if you want to understand [the Earth's] transformation, from the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere to the mass deaths of the dinosaurs," including:
Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth, by Andrew H. Knoll

Harvard earth scientist Knoll is one of the few people on the planet who has devoted his career to determining the dates on ancient pieces of rock in order to understand the origins of life. This book explores Earth as a "young planet," meaning in the years before the Cambrian Explosion that led to the development of multicellular life that could breathe oxygen. But there were billions of years of evolution before that time, in which single celled creatures lived in a world whose oceans and atmosphere were very different from today. Knoll does a terrific job showing you this lost world, and explaining how he and other scientists use evidence to speculate about what life would have been like billions of years ago.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue