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The Miner's Canary: Unraveling the Mysteries of Extinction Hardcover – October 1, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0135836590 ISBN-10: 013583659X Edition: 1st

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Trade; 1st edition (October 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 013583659X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0135836590
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,479,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eldredge, curator and chairman of the department of invertebrates at New York City's American Museum of Natural History, surveys the last 670 million years, examining factors that cause extinction without human intervention and, later, the effects of human action. Offering a theory that links the distant past to the present, he observes that most mass extinctions occurred slowly over a very long period (up to five million years); he points out that by the time dinosaurs vanished forever, most of their species had already become extinct. Noting that the move to agriculture signaled the destruction of animal habitats, Eldredge concludes that change of size and location of habitat underlies most instances of extinction, from isolated species disappearances to mass extinction. In the matter of ecosystem degradation, he maintains, it is our existence that is at stake. A stimulating and persuasive argument. Science Book Club and Library of Science Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Because of their sensitivity to dangerous gases, canaries were once kept in mines to warn miners of potential disaster. In this book, paleontologist Eldredge, author of Life Pulse ( LJ 2/1/87) and other books dealing with evolution and the history of life, notes that the decline of migrating songbirds may likewise signal catastrophe, but on a global scale. He reviews the evidence for extinction and its causes, primarily using fossil evidence and focusing on climatic change and loss of habitat. This book is aimed at the same interested lay readers as David Raup's Extinction ( LJ 8/91), but differs in its focus and its more wide-ranging discussion. If forced to choose between the two, pick this one.
- Joseph Hannibal, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "mr_fishscales" on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a reasonable book for someone who knows nothing about the history of extinctions, or evolution and historical geology, in general. Eldredge takes great pains to describe the phenomenon of extinction (background and mass) in the most popular terms possible. He also tries to inject some humanity into his narrative by introducing ideas and their originators at the same time. This is a game effort, but the scientists never really become more than names to the reader. One of Eldredge's goals is to introduce the absolutely uninitiated to the idea that Homo sapiens is not responsible for most extinctions in Earth history. For readers still hazy about the fact that our genus is only about 3.5 million years old and that life has been around for at least 3.5 billion years, this is a good lesson to pound across. For everyone else it will seem like a dogged repitition of the obvious. When one finished reading this book extinction will definitely be a lot less mysterious, but I don't think it will have been made much more interesting.
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