A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In the tradition of E.H. Gombrich, Stephen Hawking, and Alan Weisman - an entertaining and uniquely informed narration of life's life story.
In the beginning, Earth was an inhospitably alien place - in constant chemical flux, covered with churning seas, crafting its landscape through incessant volcanic eruptions. Amid all this tumult and disaster, life began. The earliest living things were no more than membranes stretched across microscopic gaps in rocks, where boiling hot jets of mineral-rich water gushed out from cracks in the ocean floor.
Although these membranes were leaky, the environment within them became different from the raging maelstrom beyond. These havens of order slowly refined the generation of energy, using it to form membrane-bound bubbles that were mostly-faithful copies of their parents - a foamy lather of soap-bubble cells standing as tiny clenched fists, defiant against the lifeless world. Life on this planet has continued in much the same way for millennia, adapting to literally every conceivable setback that living organisms could encounter and thriving, from these humblest beginnings to the thrilling and unlikely story of ourselves.
In A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth, Henry Gee zips through the last 4.6 billion years with infectious enthusiasm and intellectual rigor. Drawing on the very latest scientific understanding and writing in a clear, accessible style, he tells an enlightening tale of survival and persistence that illuminates the delicate balance within which life has always existed.
A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 40 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 09, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #12,305 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#9 in Natural History (Audible Books & Originals)
#24 in Evolution (Audible Books & Originals)
#59 in Natural History (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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A well known adage is that exceptional claims require exceptional proof. Gee claims that construction of the aechulian hand axe by home erectus was “hardwired”, though he does provide some interesting “facts” to support his claim; on the other hand, later in the book he states that homo erectus “occasionally” made decorative shells and engravings which does not seem consistent. Homo erectus learned to run, and had adaptations for endurance as well as speed; he also claims they reached maturity sooner, and died after they could no longer reproduce. He claims Neanderthals never evolved culturally during their existence, yet they had cave art and buried their dead (perhaps acquired during the transition to Neanderthal I suppose Gee hypothesizes). Interestingly, the location of both Neanderthal and human cave art suggests that the art was accompanied by sound in rituals.
I knew there was a bottleneck in human evolution, but Gee pinpoints a marshy area where the remnant survived, and then with a change in climate, they migrated 130,000 years ago, one group ending up on a South African coast, learning to use fish as a protein, and beginning a history of successful cultural development.
This may or may not become true but it is not rewarding to state an opinion without a discussion of facts and trends that would support it. I could say Humans will not survive 100 years but this is meaningless without providing material that would back it up. You can state the Sun will go out 20 years from now but this simple statement is meaningless.
Top reviews from other countries
Admittedly in places the content is pretty dense which removes most attempts to speed-read - personally I found it rewarding to read each chapter at least twice.
This is a volume for anyone with an enquiring mind (teenagers to OAP's) to enjoy - very strongly recomended.
Glad I've read it but I'm not rushing to read the rest of his books.