Drawing on the work of geologists, botanists, marine biologists and other researchers, an award-winning writer for The New Yorker discusses the five devastating mass extinctions on earth and predicts the coming of a sixth. 75,000 first printing.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes
Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.
In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Author's Note xi?
I: The Sixth Extinction 4?
II: The Mastodon's Molars 23?
III: The Original Penguin 47 ?
IV: The Luck of the Ammonites 70?
V: Welcome to the Anthropocene 92?
VI: The Sea Around Us 111?
VII: Dropping Acid 125?
VIII: The Forest and the Trees 148?
IX: Islands on Dry Land 173?
X: The New Pangaea 193?
XI: The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound 217?
XII: The Madness Gene 236?
XIII: The Thing with Feathers 259??
Selected Bibliography 293?
Photo/Illustration Credits 305?