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Mass Extinction Web Sites: Books

Benton, M.J., 2003, When life nearly died: The greatest mass extinction of all time: New York, Thames and Hudson, 336 p. This book examines the history of the Permian Period, gradualistic vs. catastrophic views of earth history, how the impact theory brought back the catastrophic view, how mass extinctions are determined, the timing of the Permian mass extinction, and the types of life that went extinct. The book evaluates various theories for the Late Permian extinction and discusses the possible modern 6th extinction event.

Hallam, A., and Wignall, P.B., 1997, Mass extinctions and their aftermath: Oxford, Oxford University Press, 330 p. This book summarizes how mass extinctions are defined, the timing of extinctions, terminology, and tools used to determine aspects of past geology, paleontology, climate, and chemistry so that causes can be investigated. A series of extinctions, including the “Big 5” mass extinctions, are reviewed. For each clues are provided, possible causes analyzed (strengths and weaknesses), the aftermath of the events are discussed.

Hallam, A., 2004, Catastrophes and lesser calamities: The cause of mass extinctions: New York, Oxford University Press, 274 p. This book examines the historical background of mass extinctions, and evidence for catastrophes, such as comets and meteor impacts, sea level change, anoxia, climate change, volcanic activity, and in the present time; human activity. Data from major mass extinctions are used to infer a common association of volcanism, climate change, and anoxia. The evolutionary significance of mass extinctions and modern human influences on extinction are also discussed.

Ward, P.D., 2007, Under a green sky: Global warming, the mass extinctions of the past, and what they mean for our future: New York, Smithsonian Books/Collins, 242 p. This book discusses the relation between mass extinctions and the carbon cycle. It examines the history of hypotheses and arguments for the various extinction theories that have been proposed since the meteor impact theory was first proposed. The author then infers that climate change was a major causes of “greenhouse” extinctions through time; regardless of the underlying causes for the climate change.


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