Palmer, D. 2003. Prehistoric past revealed. The four billion year history of life on earth. – London, Mitchell Beazley
The average coffee table book about geology, evolution, or dinosaurs starts at the Big Bang, with primordial soup or a close encounter with the first dinosaur-like creature somewhere in the Early Triassic. From there, the story finds its way upwards through the stratigraphic column. The ‘four billion year history of life on earth’ however, is told by Douglas Palmer along a different route. The book ‘Prehistoric past revealed’ starts in the Holocene, and gradually digs deeper back in time. This, together with the very clever architecture of the topics covered, is one of the great strengths of this vividly written book. In compact chapters, Palmer presents a very wide but compact overview of earth sciences, the evolution of life, and the development of these sciences as we know them today.
Along the way down into the prehistoric past, more general topics are discussed. Catastrophes, for example, are dealt with in a more general sense at the end of the Cretaceous. Natural hazards, climate change, continental drift, fossilisation processes; Palmer discusses the evolution of life against the dynamic background of the ever-changing earth, not as an isolated freak show of strange creatures from the past. Read more...