Cradle of Life by J. William Schopf
The Discovery of Earth's Earliest Fossils

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

One of the greatest mysteries in reconstructing the history of life on Earth has been the apparent absence of fossils dating back more than 550 million years. We have long known that fossils of sophisticated marine life-forms existed at the dawn of the Cambrian Period, but until recently scientists had found no traces of Precambrian fossils. The quest to find such traces began in earnest in the mid-1960s and culminated in one dramatic moment in 1993 when William Schopf identified fossilized microorganisms three and a half billion years old. This startling find opened up a vast period of time--some eighty-five percent of Earth's history--to new research and new ideas about life's beginnings. In this book, William Schopf, a pioneer of modern paleobiology, tells for the first time the exciting and fascinating story of the origins and earliest evolution of life and how that story has been unearthed.

Gracefully blending his personal story of discovery with the basics needed to understand the astonishing science he describes, Schopf has produced an introduction to paleobiology for the interested reader as well as a primer for beginning students in the field. He considers such questions as how did primitive bacteria, pond scum, evolve into the complex life-forms found at the beginning of the Cambrian Period? How do scientists identify ancient microbes and what do these tiny creatures tell us about the environment of the early Earth? (And, in a related chapter, Schopf discusses his role in the controversy that swirls around recent claims of fossils in the famed meteorite from Mars.) Like all great teachers, Schopf teaches the non-specialist enough about his subject along the way that we can easily follow his descriptions of the geology, biology, and chemistry behind these discoveries. Anyone interested in the intriguing questions of the origins of life on Earth and how those origins have been discovered will find this story the best place to start.

 

About J. William Schopf

See more books from this Author
Schopf-University of California at Los Angeles
 
Published December 1, 1989 by Freeman Cooper & Co. 336 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cradle of Life

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Most readers will want to know, for example, that in 1924 Aleksandr Oparin explained how simple molecules with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen might have ""given rise to the first cells."" Few, however, will care that Schopf once lunched with Oparin (""It was thrilling!"") or that a limesto...

| Read Full Review of Cradle of Life: The Discovery...

BookIdeas.com

Privacy Policy: This site is read-only at the user level, and thus collects no information on it's users.

| Read Full Review of Cradle of Life: The Discovery...

Reader Rating for Cradle of Life
70%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 16 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×