Australopithecines, dinosaurs, trilobites—such fossils conjure up images of lost worlds filled with vanished organisms. But in the full history of life, ancient animals, even the trilobites, form only the half-billion-year tip of a nearly four-billion-year iceberg. Andrew Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian explosion, presenting a compelling new explanation for the emergence of biological novelty.
The very latest discoveries in paleontology—many of them made by the author and his students—are integrated with emerging insights from molecular biology and earth system science to forge a broad understanding of how the biological diversity that surrounds us came to be. Moving from Siberia to Namibia to the Bahamas, Knoll shows how life and environment have evolved together through Earth's history.
Listeners go into the field to confront fossils, enter the lab to discern the inner workings of cells, and alight on Mars to ask how our terrestrial experience can guide exploration for life beyond our planet. Along the way, Knoll brings us up-to-date on some of science's hottest questions, from the oldest fossils and claims of life beyond the Earth to the hypothesis of global glaciation and Knoll's own unifying concept of "permissive ecology."
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About Andrew H. Knoll
Andrew Knoll is the Fisher Professor of Natural History at Harvard University. He has been a member of the Harvard faculty since 1982, serving as both Professor of Biology and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Professor Knoll’s research focuses on the early evolution of life, Earth’s environmental history, and, especially, the interconnections between the two. He has conducted field research on five continents and for two decades served on the science team for NASA’s MER mission to Mars. Professor Knoll’s honors include the International Prize for Biology, the Walcott Medal and the Mary Clark Thompson Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the Oparin Medal of the International Society for the Study of the Origins of Life, the Moore Medal of the Society for Sedimentary Geology, the Paleontological Society Medal, and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London. Knoll is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, and is a foreign member of the Royal Society of London. His first book, Life on a Young Planet, received the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science.
About Eric Jason Martin
Eric Jason Martin is an Earphones Award–winning narrator. He has narrated many dozens of audiobooks in fiction and nonfiction. He is also the host and producer of the award-winning This American Wife, a popular podcast, and now web series, that features original comedy and stories, as well as interviews with authors such as Robert Greene and Amy Tan.