Out of Thin Air by Peter Ward
Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere

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For 65 million years dinosaurs ruled the Earth—until a deadly asteroid forced their extinction. But what accounts for the incredible longevity of dinosaurs? A renowned scientist now provides a startling explanation that is rewriting the history of the Age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were pretty amazing creatures—real-life monsters that have the power to fascinate us. And their fiery Hollywood ending only serves to make the story that much more dramatic. But fossil evidence demonstrates that dinosaurs survived several mass extinctions, and were seemingly unaffected by catastrophes that decimated most other life on Earth. What could explain their uncanny ability to endure through the ages? Biologist and earth scientist Peter Ward now accounts for the remarkable indestructibility of dinosaurs by connecting their unusual respiration system with their ability to adapt to Earth’s changing environment—a system that was ultimately bequeathed to their descendants, birds. By tracing the evolutionary path back through time and carefully connecting the dots from birds to dinosaurs, Ward describes the unique form of breathing shared by these two distant relatives and demonstrates how this simple but remarkable characteristic provides the elusive explanation to a question that has thus far stumped scientists. Nothing short of revolutionary in its bold presentation of an astonishing theory, Out of Thin Air is a story of science at the edge of discovery. Ward is an outstanding guide to the process of scientific detection. Audacious and innovative in his thinking, meticulous and thoroughly detailed in his research, only a scientist of his caliber is capable of telling this surprising story.

About Peter Ward

See more books from this Author
He is a freelance cameraman and television trainer working with International Training and Television Consultancy. He is ex-Chairman of the Guild of Television Cameramen and former Head of Cameras at Television South West.
Published September 26, 2006 by Joseph Henry Press. 296 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Out of Thin Air

California Literary Review

Ward delves into the implications of trilobite gills, sulfur and carbon cycles, the evolution of endothermy (warm-blooded metabolism), segmented body designs as a reflection of respiratory needs, reproductive strategies (eggs or live birth?), effects of tectonic shifts on oxygen levels, alveolar ...

Jul 23 2007 | Read Full Review of Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, B...

New Scientist

Among his most provocative ideas is that simple life may be common in the universe, but complex organisms are extremely rare, a position well argued in an earlier book written with Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why complex life is uncommon in the universe.

Nov 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, B...

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