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Life on a Young Planet:
The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth
Andrew H. Knoll

Book Description | Table of Contents
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"A balanced, excellent account of current theories and discussions of the origin and early evolution of life. . . . Knoll is able to convey difficult scientific issues with a minimum of jargon, using a brisk and witty prose. . . He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for choosing the right anecdote. . . . A browse through Knoll's book will enlighten both the cognoscenti and those unfamiliar with the complexities of reading a fossil record. . . . Knoll manages to present a multidisciplinary field in an interdisciplinary volume."--Antonio Lazcano, American Scientist

"The author weaves a beautifully written, fascinating story of life's origin and development based on his extensive field studies and research in the most remote corners of the globe. . . . This volume . . . is a most valuable asset that should be read by scientists active in the field, by teachers and students who are interested in the most recent thoughts on the subject, and, in fact, by anyone who is interested in how life might have originated and evolved on this planet or on other similar planets in our Universe."--Nathan Dubowsky, Science Books & Films

"This is not a textbook but rather a story, giving one person's view of how the jigsaw pieces fit together. It is written in flowing prose with many asides, personal anecdotes and explanations of what evidence there is and how it is used. . . . [F]or ecologists the book has much to offer in putting the early evolution of life into perspective."--Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

"[Knoll's] words have a poetic flavor and his deep interest in the study of life on earth flows out of them, carrying readers along whole maintaining a rigorous discourse. Knoll's book will appeal to anyone interested in the evolution of life on Earth."--Choice

"In this wonderful book . . . Knoll's extensive field experience and eagerness to share data and ideas with colleagues enable him to reconstruct responsibly the broad evolutionary scenario yet to remain close to the evidence."--Lynn Margulis, Times Higher Education Supplement

"A detective story to match the best crime fiction. It is told with verve."--Paul Nettleton, The Guardian


"Andrew Knoll, one of the world's foremost paleontologists, here presents the origin and early evolution of life the way it should be told: a mystery unfolding as an epic. Resonating with the authority of firsthand stories of discovery, his account will be exceptionally enjoyable for scientists and the educated public alike."--Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

"Here is a firsthand account of one of the most exciting quests in modern science. Knoll writes with the confidence of a distinguished scientist who has devoted his career to unraveling the mysteries of life's origins and the passion of someone who deeply believes in the importance of recent discoveries about life before the Cambrian explosion. From the wilds of Siberia to the ocean floor, from Earth to Mars and beyond, he takes readers on a fascinating personal adventure that may change the way they think about themselves and their place in the world."--Lawrence M. Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek and Atom

"In a highly personal, gripping narrative, Knoll takes us on the most incredible journey of all journeys--the history of life on Earth."--Donald E. Canfield, Odense University

"This is a truly great book. It is a remarkably readable synthesis of many diverse ideas selected from a breathtaking array of disciplines. The narrative is engaging and entertaining--a travelogue through time that incorporates amusing and informative anecdotes from Knoll's travels to many far-off places."--Sean Carroll, University of Wisconsin, author of From DNA to Diversity

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File created: 4/21/2017

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