Top Books/Videos for SHANANNAREEFERS

(updated December 4, 2009)


Seekers Humanists Atheists Naturalists
Agnostics Nonreligionists Nontheists Antireligionists
Realists Educationalists Experimentalists Freethinkers
nlightened Rationalists Secularists

- - - Books Added on December 4, 2009 - - -

Preface -- For other recent books/videos on Origins (added October 31, 2009), see Top Books/Videos (Science/Biology-Genetics) and Top Books/Videos (Science/Cosmology)

085. The Book of Nothing : Vacuums, Voids, and
the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe,
by John D. Barrow
"... Nothing's conceptual origins were fraught with
fear and disbelief, and only three civilizations inde-
pendently discovered it. How Nothing went from
a Babylonian place holder, a Mayan decoration in
the empty space where no number fell and an Indian
dot signifying all the current aspects of zero, to one
of the most essential elements in mathematics, physics
and cosmology, is the subject of this enlightening his-

Barrow, a Cambridge professor of mathematical sci-
ences and author of Theories of Everything and other
books, follows Nothing's evolution in a clear, well-
organized narrative. It is specific but neither confusing
nor at any point slow, and while its more difficult sci-
entific content will cause it to appeal less to general
readers than K.C. Cole's The Hole in the Universe ...
there are still plenty of tidbits and trivia that readers
will want to share.

For, as Barrow demonstrates, pondering the zero
can lead to strange discoveries. ... Nothing informs
infinite aspects of life and the world at large, and
Barrows does an excellent job of bringing its effects
to light; plentiful illustrations clarify concepts and
bring them into focus.  ..."

Universe(s) Origin(s) 7 of 7 - Nothing / Everything

084. The Hole in the Universe : How Scientists Peered
over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything,
by K. C. Cole
"... Nothing is as big a mystery as nothing. From the
hatred the digit 'zero' inspired in the ancient church
and the horror vacui suffered by thinkers such as
Aristotle to the tantalizing singularity of black holes,
nothing packs quite a wallop.

People, not nature, abhor a vacuum but are often fas-
cinated by what repels them. Cole (The Universe and
the Teacup), a science columnist for the L.A. Times,
prods at the infinite properties and manifestations of
nothing, trying to get a handle on it without boxing it

Definitions make something out of nothing, but then,
she indicates, everything did come out of nothing. Comprising an expansive set of topics from the his-
tory of numbers to string theory, the big bang, even
Zen, the book's chapters are broken into bite-sized
portions that allow the author to revel in the puns
and awkwardness that comes with trying to describe
a concept that no one has fully grasped. ..."

Universe(s) Origin(s) 7 of 7 - Nothing / Everything

083. Origins of Life in the Universe, by Robert Jastrow,
Michael Rampino
"... a comprehensive look at astrobiology ... No
aspect relating to the origins of life is left uncovered
... this book gives an extremely comprehensive
understanding of the evolution of life and the pos-
sibility for life beyond our own planet, and it should
serve as an excellent textbook for an introductory
astrobiology course ...

... concise and beautifully illustrated book traces
the evolution of the Cosmos from the Big Bang to
the development of intelligent life on Earth, convey-
ing clear science in an engaging narrative. ... this
book explores many of the most fascinating ques-
tions in science. What is the origin of the Universe?
How do stars and planets form? How does life
begin? How did intelligence arise? Are we alone
in the Cosmos?

.... coverage of the latest discoveries in astrobiology
conveys the excitement of this fast-moving field. ..."

082. Life as We Do Not Know It : The NASA Search 
for (and Synthesis of) Alien Life, by Peter Ward
"... Ward, an investigator with NASA's Astrobiology
Institute, believes researchers might be taking the
wrong approach by looking only for earthly DNA-
based life forms.

Truly alien life, he argues, might have completely
different origins; even Earth has untold numbers of
viruses composed entirely of RNA, and scientists
have created similar genetic material in laboratories,
so who's to say silicon-based life-forms are impos-

After introducing readers to the building blocks of
life and the new ways they might be arranged, Ward
speculates on what types of microbes we might find
on other planets and their satellites. He recommends
that future manned space expeditions include paleon-
tologists and biochemists to follow up on suggestive evidence collected by space probes. ..."

081. Genesis : The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin,
by Robert Hazen
"... Life on Earth appeared nearly 4 billion years ago,
an emergent consequence of properties and processes
enabled by chemistry and physics - bursting forth from
air, water, rock and the thermodynamics of nonequili-
brium systems.

The origins of life pose a mystery as deep as any 
question facing contemporary science. Intrepid
researchers are taking increasingly bold steps in
an ultimate adventure to understand how prebiotic
chemical systems self-organized and crossed the
threshold separating life from non-life on our barren
young planet. Abiogenesis, the scientific quest for
life's origin, is profoundly moving and brilliantly
presented in this superb book.

... Hazen explains the many rival theories vying for
public attention. The discovery of life near hydro-
thermal vents deep in the ocean have led some
scientists to propose that life started there, while
recent studies of microbes living in rock miles
below Earth's surface point to even more radical
genesis stories.

The origin of life is a hotly contested scientific field,
of which Hazen provides a balanced view, airing all
the controversies, and only slightly favoring his own
pet theory. He spends just as much time on the tools
of the trade: the study of molecular fossils and even
how we might search for life on other planets.

... Theories of emergence and complexity are poised
to answer a multitude of issues - even as they raise the
possibility that natural processes exist beyond what we
now know, or even imagine. Genesis tells the tale of
a transforming scientific adventure in our search for
life's origins. ..."

080. Life's Origin : The Beginnings of
Biological Evolution, by J. William Schopf (editor)
"... Always a controversial and compelling topic, the
origin of life on Earth was considered taboo as an
area of inquiry for science as recently as the 1950s.

Since then, however, scientists working in this area
have made remarkable progress, and an overall
picture of how life emerged is coming more clearly
into focus. We now know, for example, that the
story of life's origin begins not on Earth, but in the
interiors of distant stars.

This book brings a summary of current research
and ideas on life's origin to a wide audience. The
contributors, all of whom received the Oparin/
Urey Gold Medal of the International Society for
the Study of the Origin of Life, are luminaries in
the fields of chemistry, paleobiology, and astro-
biology, and in these chapters they discuss their
life's work: understanding the what, when, and how
of the early evolution of life on Earth.

Presented in nontechnical language and including
a useful glossary of scientific terms, Life's Origin
gives a state-of-the-art encapsulation of the fascin-
ating work now being done by scientists as they
begin to characterize life as a natural outcome of
the evolution of cosmic matter. ..."

079. Life Evolving : Molecules, Mind, and Meaning,
by Christian de Duve
"... In this book, Belgian biochemist de Duve comes
across as an exceptionally genial, humanistic scientist.
Awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in medicine for his
groundbreaking work in cell biology, de Duve here
surveys the scientific approach to understanding how
life began, crucial bottlenecks in its increasing com-
plexity, and the question of the contingency versus
the inevitability of the entire process.

Born in 1917, de Duve regards this presentation as
his testament, which perhaps motivates his addres-
sing, periodically in the text, overtly in the final chap-
ter, religious beliefs about the existence of life.

Unlike aggressive scientific atheists such as Richard
Dawkins, nonatheist de Duve sympathetically rea-
sons through why it is unnecessary to invoke non-
physical influences.

On the other hand, he argues against assertions
that life and its evolved forms are dumb, naturally
selected flukes. Beneath the philosophizing, de Duve
delineates biology excellently and authoritatively, introducing it with wonder and curiosity that are
bound to excite the next generation. A worthy
legacy of a great career.  ..."

078. The Emergence of Life : From Chemical Origins
to Synthetic Biology, by Pier Luigi Luisi
"... The origin of life from inanimate matter has been
the focus of much research for decades, both experi-
mentally and philosophically. Luisi takes the reader
through the consecutive stages from prebiotic chem-
istry to synthetic biology, uniquely combining both

This book presents a systematic course discussing
the successive stages of self-organization, emergence,
self-replication, autopoiesis [self creation; self organ-
ization], synthetic compartments and construction of
cellular models, in order to demonstrate the spontan-
eous increase in complexity from inanimate matter to
the first cellular life forms.

A chapter is dedicated to each of these steps, using
a number of synthetic and biological examples. ..."

077. The Ancestor's Tale : A Pilgrammage to the
Dawn of Evolution, by Richard Dawkins
"... takes us from our immediate human ancestors
back through what [Dawkins] calls ‘concestors,’
those shared with the apes, monkeys and other
mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the
dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some
4 billion years ago.

It is a remarkable story which is still very much in
the process of being uncovered. And, of course
from a scientist of Dawkins' stature and reputation
we get an insider's knowledge of the most up-to-
date science and many of those involved in the

... Dawkins' knowledge of the vast and wonderful
sweep of life's diversity is admirable. Not only does
it encompass the most interesting living representa-
tives of so many groups of organisms but also the
important and informative fossil ones, many of which
have only been found in recent years.

Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology
as ‘cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the
present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin
of life.’ ... it begins with the more familiar present and
the animals nearest and dearest to us — our imme-
diate human ancestors. And then it delves back into
the more remote and less familiar past with its droves
of lesser known and extinct fossil forms.

The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each
based around a group of organisms and discusses
their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological
and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illus-
trated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living
and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional
charts and maps through time, providing a visual
compliment and complement to the text. ..."

076. Richard Dawkins : How a Scientist
Changed the Way We Think, by Alan Grafen (editor),
Mark Ridley (editor)
"... it is evident that The Selfish Gene - Richard 
Dawkins' seminal text that described how 'genes
have evolved the means to transform the world's
resources in ever more ingenious ways' - continues
to have a powerful impact on the scientific com-

These 26 essayists offer a glistening blend of praise
and personal reflection on both the nature of the
author and on the reach of his work. ..."

075. Evolution : What the Fossils Say and
Why It Matters, by Donald R. Prothero,
Carl Buell (illustrator)
"... Prothero, a geologist ... explains how rich the
fossil record has become. His goal is two-fold.
First, he wants to demonstrate the wide variety
of transitional forms that have been found, many
within the past 20 years. Second, he aims to dis-
credit the creationist movement.

'I have tried to document how they routinely distort
or deny the evidence, quote out of context, and do
many other dishonest and unethical things — all in
the name of pushing their crusade.'

He accomplishes both of his goals ... and his des-
criptions of recent research, much of it his own,
are compelling.

Prothero explains that the Cambrian explosion of
life forms was anything but an explosion, and pre-
sents the impressive transitional fossils between
reptiles and birds, along with striking evidence for
mammalian evolution, including the relationship
among hominid groups.

With good science and some specific rebuttals to
creationist arguments, this book demonstrates the
importance of paleontology to the study of evolution.
208 illustrations  ..."

074. Evolution (Second Edition), by Douglas J. Futuyma
"... 22 chapters in an undergraduate Evolution text,
some samples:

Evolutionary Biology ... Evolution in the Fossil
Record ... A History of Life on Earth ... the Geog-
raphy of Evolution ... the Evolution of Biodiversity
... the Origin of Genetic Variation ... Natural Selec-
tion and Adaptation ... Speciation ... Coevolution:
Evolving Interactions among Species ... Evolution
of Genes and Genomes ... Evolutionary Science,
Creationism, and Society (some sample sections
present in this final chapter):

- Creationists and Other Skeptics
  - Science, Belief, and Education
    - The Evidence for Evolution
      - Failures of the argument from design
        - Evolution and its mechanisms observed
          - Refuting Creationist Arguments
            - Why Should We Teach Evolution?

... The content of all chapters has been updated [in
the Second Edition] - 633 pages, 582 illustrations
[see the Sinauer link for details on what's new in
this edition].  ...

073. Evolution of the Earth (Seventh Edition),
by Donald Prothero, Robert Dott Jr.,
"... reveals the logical framework of geology, shows
relations of the science to the totality of human know-
ledge, and gives some idea of what it is to be a par-
cipant in the discipline.

Each chapter begins with a list of highlights entitled
'Major Concepts'. Many chapters have a summary
timeline that puts the entire sequence of events into
a quick visual reference frame. The use of dioramas
and reconstructions of extinct animals and plants has
been greatly expanded ... In many places, the authors
have supplied a full page of color photos of classic
fossils from each period to improve the visual recog-
nition of the organisms that give life its distinctive his-
tory. ..."

072. After the Dinosaurs : The Age of Mammals,
by Donald R. Prothero
"... For life on the land, it was simply a resetting of
the clock. A great rock arrived on Earth to precipi-
tate - or complete - a massive extinction. ... the
hordes of saurians were expunged. The sea-side
plains and woodlands they had inhabited were
now empty.

Not entirely devoid of life, however, for sharp-eyed
creatures who had been around as long as those
dinosaurs peered out from hiding places, observing
the emptiness. They quickly began to occupy it for
themselves. In so doing, they founded an immense
diversity of lineages, one of which ultimately led to

... [this book] presents informative photographs of
working digs and museum specimens, artwork of
skeletal reconstructions filled in with flesh and fur.
There are explanatory diagrams showing the rela-
tionships of various fossil species and the significant
changes occurring over time.

... Huge, flightless predatory birds inhabited South
America ... Prothero's diagram [p. 225] of these
creatures' size compared with a human, should give
anybody watching a passing robin a bit of pause.
Today those creatures are docile seed or insect
eaters, but not long ago they would have been
pleased to feast on you.

Finally, of course, Prothero must bring in the most ecologically successful species of them all. The
hominids and their many precursor species in Africa. Throughout this segment, he explains how climate
was a prompt for many of our accomplishments as
a new species.

He puts the rise of proto-humans in context with
events and conditions over the rest of  the planet.
The Ice Ages is given detailed attention with what
is known of the Neanderthal subspecies living
through the early stages. ..."

071. World Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric
Creatures : The Ultimate Visual Reference to 1000
Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures of Land, Air
and ... the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Eras,
by Dougal Dixon
"... gives an almost unbelievable amount of detail
about the most incredible forms of paleozoic, meso-
zoic, and cenozoic life. You will find hundreds of
entries about relatively obscure creatures, from
early tetrapods to obscure primitive plesiosaurs
to esoteric early mammals.

Nearly every important prehistoric group of tetra-
pods and their successors is addressed in loving
detail. ... An absolutely wonderful comprehensive
survey of land-dwelling vertebrates (along with
those that later returned to the sea or took to the
air). ... the illustrations are superb.  ..."

070. Glorified Dinosaurs : The Origin and
Early Evolution of Birds, by Luis M. Chiappe
"... The last few years have witnessed an unparalleled
rate of discoveries of early birds and their dinosaurian
predecessors. Written by a recognized authority in the
field, [this book] provides a comprehensive summary
of these discoveries and addresses the fascinating topic
of how modern birds evolved from fearsome dinosaurs
akin to the celebrated Velociraptor. ..."

069. Feathered Dinosaurs : The Origin of Birds,
by John Long, Peter Schouten (illustrator),
foreward by Luis M. Chiappe
"... superb book about the discoveries of feathered
dinosaurs and their relationship to the origin of birds.

... a stunning visual record of these extraordinary pre-
historic creatures, illuminating the evolutionary march
from primitive, feathered dinosaurs through to the first
true flying birds.

... 80 full-color paintings that capture the striking phy-
sical traits of these feathered dinosaurs.

... A true marriage of art and science, Feathered Dino-
saurs presents an unprecedented visual record of one
of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of vertebrate paleontology -- the discovery that many predatory dinosaurs were cloaked with feathers, per-
haps just as colorful and fanciful as those of their living relatives. ..."

068. Dawn of the Dinosaurs : Life in the Triassic,
by Nicholas Fraser, Douglas Henderson (illustrator)
"... Forget Jurassic Park -- the really interesting dino-
saur story happened during the 'Triassic Park' era,
a period 251 to 199 million years ago that followed
life's biggest extinction event. If you want to know
the whys and wherefores, this is the book for you ...

... Fraser has created, within the covers of this book,
a veritable Triassic Park for the reader to wander
through. Within the 307 pages of this book are num-
erous line drawings, color photographs of fossil
impressions, and color paintings that restore the
animals to life ...

... [this book] explores the natural world through
its geology, climate, and animal and plant life. It has
appendices giving some of the geologic correlation
charts, an overview of sedimentation, basic taxon-
omy (the new cladistics, of course), and very simple
vertebrate anatomy. ...

Even those readers who have extensive knowledge
of the period will love reading this book. Its chrono-
logical approach to covering the organisms through
early, middle and late Triassic time makes it read like
an enchanting story.

If you really want to know about and understand the
early history of the dinosaurs and their contempor-
aries, you definitely want this book. ..."

067. The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life,
by Tim Haines, Paul Chambers
From the back cover:

"A comprehensive visual encyclopedia of dinosaurs
and other prehistoric animals.

From the creators of the highly acclaimed Walking
with Dinosaurs series ... brings the primordial world
to vivid photo-realistic life.
  • Features over 100 prehistoric animals, many
    illustrated here for the first time.

  • Tells the story of life on Earth from the Cam-
    brian period to the Pleistocene.

  • Fascinating Face sidebars throughout contain
    tidbits of dinosaur trivia.

  • 350 richly detailed and lifelike color illustrations
    vividly recreate these astonishing creatures of
    the past."

066. Evolution of the Insects,
by David Grimaldi, Michael S. Engel
"... Entomologists such as myself are concerned only
with a few insect species, especially those that inter-
act with man - either pest species or beautiful, endan-
gered species such as butterflies. Seldom do we give
much thought to how and when our study organisms
evolved, and when we do, the relevant information
is often hard to find.

Fortunately, two American authors ... have brilliantly synthesized the potentially mind-boggling diversity of information in Evolution of the Insects...This book is
well written, logically presented, well referenced, easy
to read and marvelously illustrated, mostly in color.

... Apart from being relevant to the text, some of the
photographs of both living and fossil insects are so
beautiful that the book might even have a casual 
'coffee table' appeal. ...

The authors have created an impressive work in pre-
senting an evolutionary history of insects, including
information on their diversity, relationships, and 400
million years of fossils. No other work has managed
to integrate this diversity of living and extinct insects.
This book has already been noted as a breakthrough
work and a landmark contribution. ..."

065. Life on a Young Planet : The First
Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth,
 by Andrew H. Knoll
"... Knoll, a paleontologist at Harvard, has spent
most of his life examining and making sense of
microscopic Precambrian fossils from around the
world. In a book so well written that nonspecialists
and specialists alike will find much to savor, he
captures both the excitement of scientific discovery
and the intricacies of scientific interpretation.

He addresses two of the biggest questions of
biology and paleontology - how did life begin and
why was there an explosion of life forms at the start
of the Cambrian Era. ...

He constructs a case for the importance of 'permis-
sive ecology,' a situation in which 'life and environ-
ment evolved together, each influencing the other
in building the biosphere we inhabit today.' ... 33
color illus., 25 b&w photos, 47 line illus.

FYI: Knoll has been chosen by CNN and Time
magazine as 'America's Best' paleontologist. ..."

064. Super Volcano : The Ticking Time Bomb
Beneath Yellowstone National Park, by Greg Breining
"... a solid introduction to modern volcanology in
this look at 'super volcanoes' in general (those that
'have expelled at least 1,000 cubic kilometers of
magma ... all at once') and the Yellowstone caldera
- 'potentially the most explosive, most violent, most
deadly active volcano on the planet' - in particular.

Most readers will be astonished to learn that 2.1
million years ago, the area that is now Yellowstone
National Park burst 'with the force of hundreds of
thousands' of Hiroshima-sized explosions; more
surprising is that the site is past due for another,
possibly larger eruption.

Breining has done a public service by bringing these
hazards to light with straight-forward writing and a
well-organized text, clearly explaining complicated,
violent geological processes without ignoring the
awe-inspiring beauty of volcanic landscapes. ...

Reviewing the largest known eruptions, Breining
enumerates still-active threats to populations in
Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Naples, Italy
and, of course, the U.S.   ..."

063. Supervolcano : The Catastrophic Event
That Changed the Course of Human History,
by Dr. John Savino, Marie D. Jones
"... Approximately 75,000 years ago, an event
occurred that almost wiped out human life.

According to a stunning new theory, this singular
event may also have completely altered the gen-
etic evolution of humankind. It was an event that
released 3,000 times the energy of Mt. St. Helens.

The new book, Supervolcano, explores this erup-
tion of the Toba supervolcano in Sumatra, Indo-
nesia, its far-reaching impact, and the strong pos-
sibility of another supervolcano eruption in our

Supervolcanos are considered one of the five
biggest threats to humankind, along with asteroids,
nuclear war, disease, and global warming. But of
those, supervolcanos are the only threat that can-
not be prevented.

And their effects are catastrophic. So devastating
was the Toba eruption and the sheer amount of
ash it released into the atmosphere, it altered the
global climate for years, creating a mini Ice Age
that obliterated massive amounts of plant, animal,
and human life. A new theory claims this earth-
shattering event also caused a severe 'population
bottleneck' in humans, leading to the eventual
extinction of all other branches of our species
with the exception of one ... the branch that sur-
vived Toba and became modern humans.

Supervolcano explores:

- What supervolcanos are, where they are found,
   and why they are so deadly to life on earth.

- Toba, the largest of the known supervolcanos
   in the past 27 million years, and how its catastro-
   phic environmental aftermath brought humanity
   to the brink of extinction.

- How genetic, geological, and computer studies
   show that each human today is related to a sur-
   vivor of Toba.

- How we can prepare for the next supervolcano,
   which many earth scientists believe could be
   right here in our own backyard -- Yellowstone
   National Park. And why they believe an erup-
   tion at Yellowstone could be as catastrophic
   for humanity as Toba.  ..."

062. When Life Nearly Died : The Greatest
Mass Extinction of All Time,  by Michael Benton
"... The focus is the most severe mass extinction
known in earth's history. ... The science on which
the book is based is up-to-date, thorough, and
balanced. Highly recommended ...

Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs
were wiped out by a meteorite impact 65 million
years ago that killed half of all species then living.
Far less known is a much greater catastrophe that
took place at the end of the Permian period 251
million years ago: ninety percent of life was des-
troyed, including saber-toothed reptiles and their rhinoceros-sized prey on land, as well as vast num-
bers of fish and other species in the sea.

This book documents not only what happened dur-
ing this gigantic mass extinction but also the recent
rekindling of the idea of catastrophism. Was the
end-Permian event caused by the impact of a huge
meteorite or comet, or by prolonged volcanic erup-
tion in Siberia? The evidence has been accumulating
through the 1990s and into the new millennium, and
Michael Benton gives his verdict at the end of the

From field camps in Greenland and Russia to the
laboratory bench ... involves geologists, paleontolo-
gists, environmental modelers, geochemists, astro-
nomers, and experts on biodiversity and conserva-
tion. Their working methods are vividly described
and explained, and the current disputes are revealed.
The implications of our understanding of crises in the
past for the current biodiversity crisis are also pre-
sented in detail. 46 illustrations. ..."

061. Extinction : How Life on Earth Nearly Ended
250 Million Years Ago,  by Douglas H. Erwin
"... Douglas Erwin blends careful scholarship and
graceful prose in this authoritative elucidation of
Earth's greatest mass extinction. Although framed
in terms of hypotheses and their tests, Erwin's story
unfolds as a gripping who-done-it for the ages. ...

Douglas Erwin is the world's leading expert on the
end-Permian extinction. ... This book provides an
up-to-date review and critical appraisal of all we
know about the end-Permian mass extinction ...

... His accessible new book, Extinction -- written,
it seems, both to persuade his colleagues and to
educate a lay audience -- is told from the perspec-
tive of a forensic scientist trying to piece together
a quarter-billion-year-old crime scene from an
impossibly scant body of clues. It unfolds as a
sort of geological mystery story. ..."

060. Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities : The Causes
of Mass Extinctions,  by Tony Hallam
"... renowned geologist Tony Hallam takes us on
a tour of the Earth's history, and of the cataclysmic
events, as well as the more gradual extinctions, that
have punctuated life on Earth throughout the past
500 million years.

While comparable books in this field of study tend
to promote only one likely cause of mass extinctions,
such as extraterrestrial impact, volcanism, and or
climatic cooling, Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities
breaks new ground, as the first book to attempt an
objective coverage of all likely causes, including sea-
level and climatic changes, oxygen deficiency in the
oceans, volcanic activity, and extraterrestrial impact.

Hallam focuses on the so-called 'big five' mass extinc-
tions, at the end of the Ordovician, Permian, Triassic,
and Cretaceous periods, and the later Devonian, and
he also includes less well-known examples where

He devotes attention especially to the attempts by
geologists to distinguish true catastrophes from more
gradual extinction events, and he concludes with a
discussion of the evolutionary significance of mass
extinctions, and on the influence of Homo sapiens
in causing extinctions within the last few thousand
years, both on land and in the seas. ..."

What triggers mass extinctions?

059. Lucy's Legacy : The Quest for Human Origins,
by Dr. Donald Johanson
"... Johanson ... the paleoanthropologist who in 1974
discovered the famed 3.2-million-year-old hominid
named Lucy, and Scientific American editor Wong
delve deeply into the significance of Lucy, her pro-
bable ancestors and her probable successors, includ-
ing modern humans.

 ... Excerpt from the opening of the book:  'The
Woman Who Shook Up Man's Family Tree  - Never
in my wildest fantasies did I imagine that I would dis-
cover a fossil as earthshaking as Lucy. ... Whenever
I tell the story, I am instantly transported back to the
thrilling moment when I first saw her thirty-four years
ago on the sandy slopes of Hadar in Ethiopia's Afar
region.' ..."

058. The Human Career : Human Biological
and Cultural Origins, by Richard G. Klein
"... Since its publication in 1989, The Human Career
has proved to be an indispensable tool in teaching
human origins. This substantially revised third edition
retains Richard G. Klein’s innovative approach while
showing how cumulative discoveries and analyses
over the past ten years have significantly refined our
knowledge of human evolution.

Klein chronicles the evolution of people from the ear-
liest primates through the emergence of fully modern
humans within the past 200,000 years. His compre-
hensive treatment stresses recent advances in know-
ledge, including, for example, ever more abundant
evidence that fully modern humans originated in
Africa and spread from there, replacing the Nean-
derthals in Europe and equally archaic people in

With its coverage of both the fossil record and the
archaeological record over the 2.5 million years for
which both are available, The Human Career demon-
strates that human morphology and behavior evolved
together. ...

For the third edition, Klein has ... included more than
fifty new illustrations to help lay readers grasp the fos-
sils, artifacts, and other discoveries ... With abundant references and hundreds of images, charts, and dia-
grams, this new edition is unparalleled in its usefulness
for teaching human evolution. ..."

057. How Humans Evolved (Fifth Edition),
by Robert Boyd, Joan B. Silk
"... With its unique blend of evolutionary theory,
population genetics and behavioral ecology, How
Humans Evolved provides students with the most
contemporary and complete introduction to physical
anthropology available.

Robert Boyd and Joan B. Silk’s modern presenta-
tion of genetics and observable behaviors in living
humans and non-human primates moves beyond
merely describing anthropological finds to showing
students the 'big picture' ideas behind human evolu-

For the Fifth Edition, Boyd and Silk have updated
the text to include the best of current research in
the areas of genetics, behavior and the fossil record
that conveys the excitement of anthropological dis-
covery. This new coverage reflects strengthened
coverage of molecular genetics and a streamlined
presentapion of primatology. ..."

056. Human Origins : What Bones and Genomes
Tell Us about Ourselves, by Rob Desalle,
Ian Tattersall
"... Ever since the recognition of the Neanderthals
as an archaic form of human in the mid-nineteenth
century, the fossilized bones of extinct humans have
been used by paleoanthropologists to explore human
origins. These bones told the story of how the earliest
humans — bipedal apes, actually — first emerged in
Africa some 6 to 7 million years ago.

Starting about 2 million years ago, the bones reveal
that as humans became anatomically and behaviorally
more modern, they swept out of Africa in waves into
Asia, Europe, and finally into the New World.

Even as paleoanthropologists continued to make
important discoveries ... experts in genetics were
looking at the human species from a very different
angle. ... most recently the entire human genome
has been mapped ...

... two of the world’s foremost scientists ... show
how research into the human genome confirms what
fossil bones have told us about human origins. This
unprecedented integration of the fossil and genomic
records provides the most complete understanding
possible of humanity’s place in nature, its emergence
from the rest of the living world, and the evolutionary
processes that have molded human populations to be
what they are today. ..."

055. Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins,
by Carl Zimmer
"... The book is beautifully illustrated and photo-
graphed ... a journalistic account of the state
of our knowledge regarding human evolution,
specifically fossil finds, hypotheses and theories
on immigration, technology development and
its effect on mutations, and even a chapter on
human potential for change in the future. ..."

054. The Last Human : A Guide to Twenty-Two
Species of Extinct Humans, by G.J. Sawyer,
Viktor Deak, Esteban Sarmiento, Richard Milner,
Ian Tattersall (intro), Maeve Leakey (afterword),
Donald C. Johnson (foreward)
"... Remarkable in scope and clarity, this stunning
collaboration among scientists, scholars and artists
reveals the vast panorama of hominid evolution.

... Paleontological and anatomical data for each
species were combined with anthropological and
climatological research to produce this volume,
covering 22 species and 7 million years.

As chapters move chronologically from our most
primitive antecedents, the poorly known 'ape-men'
of the African Sahel, through more well-known
ancestors, such as the Australopithicines, Homo
habilis and Neanderthals, the data grows in com-
plexity and quantity; happily, fictional accounts of
individual hominids draw readers into each new

Illustrated with astonishingly life-like portraits of
long-gone species ... Both inspiring and humbling,
this look at humanity's ancestors - the worlds they
inhabited, the challenges they faced and the lega-
cies they left behind - is fascinating, informative,
and deeply provocative. ..."

053. Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction, by McGraw-Hill
"... traces the history of paleoanthropology from its
beginnings in the eighteenth century to today's latest
fossil finds. Along the way we are introduced to the
lively cast of characters, past and present, involved
in evolutionary research.

Although concentrating on the fossil evidence for
human evolution, the book also covers the latest
genetic evidence about regional variations in the
modern human genome that relate to our evolu-
tionary history. ... This is an ideal introduction for
anyone interested in the origins and development
of humankind. ..."

052. The Complete World of Human Evolution,
by Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews
"... Human domination of the earth is now so com-
plete that it is easy to forget how recently our role
in the history of the planet began: the earliest apes
evolved around twenty million years ago, yet Homo
sapiens has existed for a mere 150,000 years.

In the intervening period, many species of early ape
and human have lived and died out, leaving behind
the fossilized remains that have helped to make the
detailed picture of our evolution revealed here.

This exciting, up-to-the-minute account is divided
into three accessible sections. 'In Search of Our
Ancestors' examines the contexts in which fossil-
ized remains have been found and the techniques
used to study them. 'The Fossil Evidence' traces in
detail the evolution of apes and humans, from Pro-
consul to the australopithecines, and Homo erectus
to the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

The latest fossil finds at major new sites such as
Dmanisi in Georgia and Gran Dolina in Spain are
appraised, and new advances in genetic studies,
including the extraction of DNA from extinct human
species, are evaluated.

'Interpreting the Evidence' reconstructs and explains
the evolution of human behavior, describing the
development of tool use, the flourishing of the ear-
liest artists, and the spread of modern humans to
all corners of the world. The book is superbly illus-
trated with hundreds of photographs, diagrams,
and specially commissioned reconstruction draw-
ings by the artist John Sibbick. 430 illustrations,
175 in color. ..."

051. Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia)
Evolution, by User Contributions
"... In biology, evolution is change in the genetic
material of a population of organisms from one
generation to the next. ... Two major mechanisms
determine which variants will become more com-
mon or rare in a population.

One is natural selection, a process that causes
helpful traits (those that increase the chance of
survival and reproduction) to become more com-
mon in a population and causes harmful traits to
become more rare. ...  The other ... is genetic drift,
an independent process that produces random
changes in the frequency of traits in a population.
Genetic drift results from the role that chance
plays in whether a given trait will be passed on
as individuals survive and reproduce. ..."

- - - Videos Added on December 4, 2009 - - -

050. DVD : Origins (Fourteen Billion Years
of Cosmic Evolution)
A video clip is unavailable. Excerpt from website

"... Origins consists of four one-hour episodes. The first focuses
on the initial billion years of Earth history, research into the emer-
gence of water (which appeared surprisingly early, as it turns out,
and could have been delivered by comets) and the birth of the

The second show concerns hardy, single-cell organisms on Earth
developing, in some quite inhospitable places, into complex life
forms, while the third covers the Big Bang and the final installment
looks at theories involving extraterrestrial life. ..."

049. DVD : Walking With Cavemen
A video clip is unavailable. Excerpt from website

"... follow in the footsteps of ancient man in a series that traces
the history of humanity from bipedal ape-men (Australopithe-
cus Aphaeresis) to the awakening of the human mind's potential
with Homo Erectus. ... makes use of a special effect called
"deep time-lapse", which shows in a matter of dramatic sec-
onds the thousands of years of geological changes that sped
up our ancestors' evolution ..."

048. DVD : Walking With Prehistoric Beasts
A video clip is unavailable. Excerpt from website

"... follow in the footsteps of ancient man in a series that traces
the history of humanity from bipedal ape-men (Australopithe-
cus Aphaeresis) to the awakening of the human mind's potential
with Homo Erectus. ... makes use of a special effect called
"deep time-lapse", which shows in a matter of dramatic sec-
onds the thousands of years of geological changes that sped
up our ancestors' evolution ..."

047. DVD : Walking With Dinosaurs
A video clip is unavailable. Excerpt from website

"... Through stunning animation, Walking With Prehistoric
Beasts follows the rise of mammals from the first signs of
success aft the demise of the dinosaurs to the ice ages, when
humankind completed its conquest of the world's mega fauna.
It reveals not only the first appearance of familiar animals like
whales, bats, horses and cats, but our own heritage running
back to the very first primates. ..."

046. DVD : Before the Dinosaurs - Walking With
Monsters - Life Before Dinosaurs
A video clip is unavailable. Excerpt from website

"... puts viewers in the midst of a host of strange creatures that
inhabited the earth millions of years before the dinosaurs ever
existed. With the help of complex computer animation and the
research of hundreds of paleontologists, the BBC presents an
extremely realistic picture of the earth's earliest, most primitive
aquatic inhabitants and chronicles their evolution to the pre-
cursors of man himself and the mighty dinosaurs. ..."

045. DVD : Greatest Discoveries
With Bill Nye : Evolution
A video clip is unavailable. 

044. DVD : Mystery of the Megavolcano
A video clip is unavailable. 

043. DVD : Discovery Channel Supervolcano DVD
It's Under Yellowstone. and It's Overdue

042. Pro-Humanist FREELOVER Posts which
include videos pertaining to Science/Origins
(as of December 4, 2009)

- - - Books from the 1999 & 2000 Versions of this post - - -

041. The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
"... Perhaps the most readable and accessible
of the great works of scientific imagination, The
Origin of Species sold out on the day it was pub-
lished in 1859.

Theologians quickly labeled Charles Darwin the
most dangerous man in England, and, as the Sat-
urday Review noted, the uproar over the book
quickly 'passed beyond the bounds of the study
and lecture-room into the drawing-room and the
public street.'

Yet, after reading it, Darwin's friend and colleague
T. H. Huxley had a different reaction: 'How ex-
tremely stupid of me not to have thought of that.' ..."

040. Darwin's Ghost : The Origin of Species
Updated, by Steve Jones
"... Jones has been called 'the British Carl Sagan'
because of his prominence as a popularizer of
science. Using contemporary examples -- the
AIDS virus, the rules of the American Kennel
Club, the sheep who never forget a face and the
garbage that floats in the Pacific -- he shows the
power and immediacy of Darwin's great argu-

Filled with anecdotes, humor and the very latest
research, Darwin's Ghost is a popular, readable
and comprehensive account of the science that
makes life make sense. ..."

039. The Triumph of Evolution...And the
Failure of Creationism, by Niles Eldredge
"... A curator in invertebrate paleontology at the
American Museum of Natural History, Eldredge
sets out and counters the arguments of conservative
Christians against evolution and for divine creation.

He describes their basic argument and their strategies
for advancing it, the recent attack on philosophical
naturalism, and models of intelligent design. He also
disputes the claim that the study of evolution cannot
be scientific and leads to a demise of family, religion,
and traditional values. ..."

038. The Blind Watchmaker : Why the Evidence of
Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design,
by Richard Dawkins
"... identifies the aspects of the theory of evolution
that people find hard to believe and removes the
barriers to credibility one by one. As readable and
vigorous a defense of Darwinism as has been pub-
lished since 1859, leaps effortlessly from the prime-
val soup to long rows of taxonomy. Deep enough
to be valuable to biologists, yet simple and well-
written so as to appeal to a mass audience. ..."

037. Climbing Mount Improbable,
by Richard Dawkins
"... How do species evolve? Richard Dawkins
likens the process to scaling a huge, Himalayan-
size peak, the Mount Improbable of his title. An
alpinist does not leap from sea level to the summit;
neither does a species utterly change forms over
night, but instead follows a course of 'slow, cumu-
lative, one-step-at-a-time, non-random survival
of random variants' -- a course that Charles Dar-
win, Dawkins' great hero, called natural selection.

Illustrating his arguments with case studies from
the natural world, such as the evolution of the eye
and the lung, and the coevolution of certain kinds
of figs and wasps, Dawkins provides a vigorous,
entertaining defense of key Darwinian ideas. ..."

036. Science on Trial : The Case for Evolution,
by Douglas J. Futuyma
"... This book truly exposes 'creation science' as a
sham, and proudly reasons through why. Offering
insightful information and diagrams, he carefully
tears down the banner of lies held high by hard
core creationists.

However, even as it destroys creationist arguments,
it displays current biological information that sup-
ports evolution 100%. Truly a book for the age
when people are considering putting 'creation sci-
ence' in the classroom and Christian clubs bring
lecturers into school to preach creationism. All
those that don't face the fact of evolution after
reading this book will never be convinced. ..."

035. Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of
Science, by National Academy of Sciences Staff
"... Provides a well-structured framework for
understanding and teaching evolution. ... This
book illustrates how evolution explains both the
great diversity and the underlying similarity of
the earth's organisms; it explores how scientists
approach the question of evolution; and it
describes the nature of science as a way of
knowing about the natural world. In addition,
the book provides answers to frequently asked
questions to help readers understand many of
the issues and misconceptions about evolution. ..."

034. Dawn of Man : The Story of Human
Evolution, by Robin McKie
"... Dawn of Man, which accompanies a BBC
television series, tells the story of human evolution,
warts and all, over the last 4 million years or so.
From a shared ancestor with the higher apes, an
upright, walking ape-human in Africa, McKie takes
our story through the Ice Age to domination by
modern humans. ..."

033. In the Footsteps of Eve : The Mystery
of Human Origins, by Lee R. Berger,
Brett Hilton-Barber (Contributor)
"... Where did we come from? Though it's been fairly
well settled that our species was born in Africa, the
debate still rages over our hometown. In the Foot-
steps of Eve: The Mystery of Human Origins is a
beautifully written argument in favor of the southern
end of the continent rather than the eastern locations
more popular among paleoanthropologists. ..."

032. The Dawn of Human Culture
by Richard G. Klein, Blake Edgar
"... Why is it that Homo sapiens suddenly devel-
oped a remarkable range of new talents in a 'big
bang' that produced the first signs of truly human
culture? ... Now, preeminent anthropologist  
Richard Klein offers a compelling answer.

He reexamines the archaeological evidence -- in-
cluding the latest findings -- and brings in new dis-
coveries in the study of the human brain to show
that the incredibly rapid evolution of new skills
was the result of a dramatic neurological change
in the human brain that allowed humans to think
and behave in much more sophisticated ways. ..."

031. The Riddled Chain : Chance,
Coincidence, and Chaos in Human
Evolution, by Jeffrey Kevin McKee
"...  'Human evolution,' McKee writes, 'has been
the product of many forces that together made us
neither inevitable nor probable.' The same holds
true for other species. With all due respect to
Lamarck, McKee adds, the giraffe came to have
its long neck by a roll of the genetic dice, but
a roll that lent the giraffe a competitive advantage
over its shorter-necked browsing cousins, and
therefore one subsequently reinforced by natural
selection. ..."

030. Tales of the Rational : Skeptical
Essays About Nature and Science,
by Massimo Pigliucci
"... defines an intellectual space as far removed as
hardcore religious fundamentalism from mainstream
thinking -- but it may be coming closer as scientists
and skeptics launch more aggressive attacks on pseu-
doscience and fuzzy thinking.

Pigliucci, a rising star on the evolution-creationism
debate circuit, pulls out all the stops in his work,
not content merely to defend science against its
detractors, but eagerly undermining belief in religion
and the existence of any gods at all.

... Readers with any sympathy for spirituality will
run face-first into statements like 'I do not see what
science has to gain from being reconciled with a
system of superstitious beliefs that stands for the
exact opposite of free inquiry.'

... reason and materialism ... he is right when he
claims that they are uniquely powerful tools for
describing the world unmatched by anything in
religion's shed. ..."

029. Sudden Origins : Fossils, Genes, and the
Emergence of Species, by Jeffrey H. Schwartz
"... Do new species arise by way of gradual changes
in precursor creatures or through abrupt, large-scale
reorganization of entire anatomical systems?

Debates on this subject go way back. Schwartz, a
professor of anthropology at the University of Pitts-
burgh, reviews the debates in detail and comes down
on the side of leap-frog evolution, offering a provoca-
tive new theory to explain how species arise. ...

Like many scientists before him, Schwartz argues that
regulatory genes called homeobox genes, which were
discovered in the 1980s, control developmental pro-
cesses in such a way that small alterations to their
structure can lead to major shifts in organisms, pos-
sibly even creating new species. ..."

028. At Home in the Universe : The Search for
Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity,
by Stuart Kauffman
"Excerpts from the first few pages of the book, refer-
encing the impact of Darwin's theory of evolution on
the various creation-by-a-God ideas long-lived in

'... How Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural
selection devastated all this! ... Darwin devastated this
world. ... the emerging sciences of complexity begin
to suggest that the order is not all accidental, that vast
veins of spontaneous order lie at hand. Laws of com-
plexity spontaneously generate much of the order of
the natural world. ... I believe that this emergent order
underlies not only the origin of life itself, but much of
the order seen in organisms today.' ..."

027. The Fifth Miracle : The Search for the
Origin and Meaning of Life, by Paul Davies
"... Review excerpt from Scientific American: "His
thesis is that 'the first terrestrial organisms lived
deep underground, entombed within geothermally
heated rocks in pressure-cooker conditions.' Davies
also looks at the theories that life began by chemical
assembly in a watery medium and that it came to
the earth from space in the form of already viable
microbes -- the panspermia hypothesis. ..."

026. A Walk Through Time, From Stardust
to Us : The Evolution of Life on Earth,
by Sidney Liebes, Elisabet Sahtouris,
Brian Swimme
"... A Walk Through Time is a landmark book,
gorgeously illustrating the remarkable drama of
the history of the universe, from the furious blast
of the Big Bang to the first pulse of life on Earth
and on through the rich pageant of life's evolution
from primordial microbes to the rise of Homo
sapiens. 130 color illustrations. ..."

025. The Origins of Life : From the Birth
of Life to the Origin of Language,
by John Maynard Smith, Eors Szathmary
"... Here is a brilliant, state-of-the-art account of
how life evolved on earth, focusing primarily on
six major transitions--dramatic breakthroughs in
the way that information was passed between

The authors offer illuminating explorations of the
origin of life itself, the arrival of the first cells with
nuclei, the first reproduction by sexual means,
the appearance of multicellular plants and animals,
the emergence of cooperation and of animal
societies, and the birth of language. ..."

024. Life : A Natural History of the First
Four Billion Years of Life on Earth,
by Richard Fortey
"... The story of the creatures great and small who
have graced the planet then and now, and of the
scientists who have studied them, marvelously told
by a senior paleontologist at London's Natural
History Museum.

... Fortey ... chronicles the emergence of algae and
other one-cell plants that populated the oceans,
creating a groundswell of nutrients and sediments
vital to life at all successive stages. He is quick to acknowledge the role of chance, the possibility that
later life forms might have been completely different
had one or another earlier organism held sway.

... He deals with human origins with equal finesse,
giving credit to important research, putting past con-
troversies about evolution into cultural context, and
reminding us that new discoveries may rewrite ideas
about human evolution yet again.

Fortey's narrative offers a number of wonderful set-
pieces, including his description of the explosion of
new life forms during the Cambrian era.

... His wonderful description of the emergence and
proliferation of life on earth combines the vision of
a scientist with an intimate knowledge of the fossil
record with the insight of a scholar for masterful
interpretation. ..."

023. Trilobite : Eyewitness to Evolution,
by Richard Fortey
"... With Fortey's expert guidance, we begin to
understand how trilobites reveal the pattern and
mechanism of evolution through their fossil legacy
in the rocks. Through the eyes of trilobites, he
allows us glimpses of former worlds as foreign
in their geography as in their life forms. Altogether,
he provides a unique picture of our geological
past, which in turn provides us -- scientist and
layperson alike -- with a new grasp of the won-
ders of scientific discovery. ..."

022. Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History
by Tim Haines
"... Based on one of the most ambitious television
ventures ever undertaken, Walking With Dinosaurs:
A Natural History takes you back to a time when
super-beasts ruled the world. This full-color, hard-
cover edition captures the awesome nature of the
Discovery Channel program in 288 action-packed
pages. Through expertly-written text and state-of-
the-art computer graphics,this book vividly depicts
the age of the dinosaur. ..."

021. The Scientific American Book of
Dinosaurs, by Gregory Paul (Editor)
"... Discover how dinosaurs evolved, how they
looked, where they lived, how they behaved,
and why they died: the current state of knowledge
about the Monsters of the Mesozoic, complete
in one volume.

Acclaimed dinosaur paleontologist and paleo-artist
Gregory S. Paul conducts this definitive tour through
the 140-million-year existence of the most exotic
and interesting group of animals ever to walk the
earth, assisted by the world's leading dinosaur ex-
perts. ... Filled with spectacular full-color illustrations
of dinosaurs in action, plus black-and-white art and
graphics. ..."

020. In the Presence of Dinosaurs,
by John Colagrande, Larry Felder (Illustrator),
Jack Horner
"... Prepare to forget everything you thought you
knew about dinosaurs. Ferocious battles of lore
played out by dimwitted, reptilian, lumbering mon-
sters? Not true.

In the Presence of Dinosaurs draws on the latest
information from fossil records and studies of
present-day wildlife to create an intimate account
of the parentally attentive, agile ancestors of birds
that roamed the earth millions of years ago. ...

Throughout are 100 glorious, full-color paintings
by acclaimed dinosaur artist Larry Felder. ..."

019. The New Dinosaurs, by William Stout
"... Here are dinosaurs as you've never seen them
before in a dramatically expanded new edition of
the book that started the renaissance in dinosaur
books. Here are dinosaurs that are swift, stunning,
scary and stupendous, presented in a lavish format.

Using the latest paleontological research, The
New Dinosaurs presents a scientifically accurate
look at the way dinosaurs lived: how they moved,
ate, dueled, drank and mated. ..."

018. The Dinosaur Heresies : New Theories
Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and
Their Extinction, by Robert T. Bakker
"... For over a century, dinosaurs have been thought 
of as plodding, dim-witted giant lizards too awkward
and ill-equipped to survive the ravages of environ-
mental change.

Bakker offers startling new evidence destined to for-
ever alter the perception of the much-maligned mon-
sters, depicting them as never before imagined: hot-
blooded, amazingly agile, and surprisingly intelligent. ..."

017. The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of
Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures : A Visual
Who's Who of Prehistoric Life,
by Douglas Palmer, Barry Cox (Editor),
R. J. G. Savage, Brian Gardiner, Douglas Dixon
"... With entries for more than 600 species, each
arranged in its evolutionary sequence, the book
presents a panorama of enormous diversity, from
predatory dinosaurs to primitive amphibians,
from giant armored fish to woolly mammoths,
saber-tooth tigers and dire wolves.

Each entry features a specially commissioned full-
color painting prepared according to the best
research of today in close collaboration with
world-renowned paleontologists. ..."

016. DK Pockets : Dinosaurs, by Neil Clark,
William Lindsay
"... Dinosaurs are a huge subject, all right, as hundreds
of huge volumes will testify. But suppose you'd like
a handy little reference book on these extinct reptiles,
maybe one that you could stick in your backpack
or even in your pocket? This small but sturdy book
from Dorling Kindersley fits the bill, with tons of
information on all things relating to dinosaurs and
their world. ..."

015. Asteroid Impact,
by Douglas Henderson (Illustrator),
Toby Sherry (Editor)
"... Sixty-five million years ago, Earth was alive
with pterosaurs, marine reptiles, and dinosaurs.
But some event brought the Age of Reptiles to
an abrupt end -- an event believed by many
scientists to be the collision of a large asteroid
with Earth.

Douglas Henderson draws on well-respected
theories from physics, geology, astronomy, and
paleontology to re-create the asteroid's impact.
With breathtaking paintings and a clear accessible
text, he explains this fascinating subject in vivid
detail. ..."

014. Fire on Earth : Doomsday, Dinosaurs, and
Humankind, by John R. Gribbin
"... Able and prolific science popularizers, the Gribbins
turn their attention to that world-wide attention-getter
of 1993: the Jupiter-comet collision. Wondering if it
can happen to Earth, the Gribbins retell the discovery
of the principal terrestrial evidence that it already has
-- the iridium layer and crater in Mexico confirming
a cataclysmic, dinosaur-extinguishing collision. ..."

013. Powers of Ten: A Flipbook,
by Charles Eames, Ray Eames
"... A fun and compact visual odyssey, this flipbook
shows readers not only the relative size of things in
the known world, but our own place in it. This mag-
nificent journey begins millions of light years away,
with every two pages representing a view ten times
larger than the view two pages earlier. Full color. ..."

010. The Dragons of Eden : Speculations on the
Evolution of Human Intelligence, by Carl Sagan
"... Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading
adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight
into the brain of man and beast, the origin of
human intelligence, the function of our most
haunting legends -- and their amazing links to
recent discoveries. A history of the human brain
from the big bang ... to the day before yesterday.
... It's a delight. ..."

009. Cosmos, by Carl Sagan
"... The best-selling science book ever published in
the English language, Cosmos is a magnificent over-
view of the past, present, and future of science.

Brilliant and provocative, it traces today's knowledge
and scientific methods to their historical roots, blend-
ing science and philosophy in a wholly energetic and
irresistible way. ..."

008. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors:
A Search for Who We Are, by Carl Sagan,
Ann Druyan (Contributor)
"... Dazzling...a feast. Absorbing and elegantly written,
it tells of the origins of life on earth, describes its
variety and character, and culminates in a discussion
of human nature and the complex traces of human-
kind's evolutionary past ... it is an amazing story
masterfully told. ..."

007. The Demon-Haunted World : Science
As a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan
"... Carl Sagan muses on the current state of scientific
thought, which offers him marvelous opportunities to
entertain us with his own childhood experiences, the
newspaper morgues, UFO stories, and the assorted
flotsam and jetsam of pseudoscience.

Along the way he debunks alien abduction, faith-
healing, and channeling; refutes the arguments that
science destroys spirituality, and provides a 'baloney
detection kit' for thinking through political, social,
religious, and other issues. ..."

006. Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life
and Death at the Brink of the Millennium,
by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan (Epilogue)
"... Carl Sagan's last work seems to be the most
powerful yet. He takes an unabashed look at
virtually every aspect of human existence and
its impact on the home planet.

It is a philosophical work that transcends the
paradigms of the past, dropping the excuses
for excess such as patriotism, progress, and
religion. ..."

005. The Third Chimpanzee : The Evolution
and Future of the Human Animal,
by Jared Diamond
"... A provocative look at mankind's evolution
from the ape into the complex creature we call

By standards of other animals, our powerful
civilization appears unique. So do many of our
behaviors, including our sexual habits and the
ways we select mates.Yet in many respects we
are merely another species of ape -- our genes
are more than 98% identical to those of chim-
panzees. ..."

004. Becoming Human : Evolution and Human
Uniqueness, by Ian Tattersall
"... Since Darwin wrote The Descent of Man in
1871, many evolutionary constructions have been
conceived, usually bearing the features of their
cultural and social contexts. With Ian Tattersall's
smoothly developed argument about the evolution
of distinctively human nature, cultural belief plays
a decisive role. ..."

003. Ever Since Adam and Eve: : The Evolution
of Human Sexuality,
by Malcolm Potts, Roger Short
"... The book tells you about our evolutionary history,
that we are indeed descended from earlier animals and
even earlier forms of life.

They document that the main evolutionary drive for
humans and mammals generally has been and is SEX,
for the key to our existence is the need to produce
the BEST next generation.

For many this book will prove an epiphany of under-
standing, a creation of more reverence for life, but one
not based on the mythology of religion, but on the clear
facts of science. Don't miss it. ..."

002. Promiscuity : An Evolutionary History
of Sperm Competition, by Tim Birkhead
"... Females, it has become clear, are remarkably
promiscuous and have evolved an astonishing
array of strategies, employed both before and
after copulation, to determine exactly who will
father their offspring.

Tim Birkhead reveals a wonderful world in which
males and females vie with each other as they
strive to maximize their reproductive success.
Both sexes have evolved staggeringly sophisti-
cated ways to get what they want - often at the
expense of the other. ..."

001. The Mating Mind : How Sexual Choice
Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature,
by Geoffrey F. Miller
"... A full-throated exponent of evolutionary psy-
chology, Miller is enamored with totally explaining
the creative and moral attributes of the mind. He
posits that they evolved through the string of human
sexual selections that reaches back to the cave-
dwelling days of the Pleistocene.

So if you think you make art for aesthetic reasons
or behave nicely for altruistic ones, Miller begs
to dissuade you. These and other expressions of
personality are all display devices for attracting
a mate. ..."