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Gorgon: Paleontology, Obsession, and the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth's Historyby Peter Ward
"Written for a broad audience, Gorgon has more in common with John McPhee's geology books like Rising from the Plains than it does with scholarly bone catalogs. This is a book about people, frustration, curiosity, friendship, family, and change, all set against a paleontological backdrop. It is uncommon to find a science book that is a pleasure to read not just for the joy of gaining academic knowledge, but for the romance of words and thoughts. Peter Ward's gift for writing makes Gorgon such a book."
Synopses & Reviews
The gorgons ruled the world of animals long before there was any age of dinosaurs. They were the T. Rex of their day until an environmental cataclysm 250 million years ago annihilated them — along with 90 percent of all plant and animal species on the planet — in an event so terrible even the extinction of the dinosaurs pales in comparison. For more than a decade, Peter Ward and his colleagues have been searching in South Africa's Karoo Desert for clues to this world: What were these animals like? How did they live and, more important, how did they die?
In Gorgon, Ward examines the strange fate of this little known prehistoric animal and its contemporaries, the ancestors of the turtle, the crocodile, the lizard, and eventually dinosaurs. He offers provocative theories on these mass extinctions and confronts the startling implications they hold for us. Are we vulnerable to a similar catastrophe? Are we nearing the end of human domination in the earth's cycle of destruction and rebirth? Gorgon is also a thrilling travelogue of Ward's long, remarkable journey of discovery and a real-life adventure deep into Earth's history.
"Highly entertaining, and particularly evocative of those times when the 'ka-ching' sounds, opening entirely new pathways to hare down." Kirkus Reviews
"[Y]oung people aspiring to be the next Indiana Jones will learn from this realistic account of the quotidian details and battles of fieldwork." Publishers Weekly
This is the tale of the true Lost World. In the prehistory of the dinosaurs, Therapsids roamed the earth. The most terrifying of these was the gorgon. "Gorgon" is the first book to examine the gorgon and its contemporaries, the ancestors of the turtle, to ask what they were like, how they lived, and, most importantly, how they died.
This is the tale of the true Lost World. In the Permian period, the prehistory of the dinosaurs, Therapsids, mammal-like reptiles, roamed the earth. The largest and most terrifying of these was the gorgon, a ten-foot long carnivore looking like a fearsome hybrid of lion and lizard, and the T-Rex of his day. Gorgon is the first trade book to examine the gorgon and its contemporaries, the ancestors of the turtle, the crocodile, the lizard, and, eventually, dinosaurs, to ask what they were like, how they lived, and, most importantly, how they died.
About the Author
Peter Ward, a recognized authority on mass extinctions, is professor of geological sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. His books include Future Evolution, The End of Evolution, and, with Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth and The Life and Death of Planet Earth.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Arriving 1
Chapter 2: Bones in the Karoo 16
Chapter 3: Gradual or Sudden? 46
Chapter 4: Land and Sea 54
Chapter 5: Karoo Magnetics 63
Chapter 6: A Change of Rivers 95
Chapter 7: The Stone House at Tussen die Riviere 124
Chapter 8: Retrieval 153
Chapter 9: The Rate of Killing 166
Chapter 10: Drawing Conclusions 187
Chapter 11: Buckyballs 201
Chapter 12: A New Kind of Extinction 212
Chapter 13: Resolution 218
Epilogue: Legacy and Lessons of a Catastrophe:
Are We Living on a Safe Planet? 229
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