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End of the Megafauna
End of the Megafauna: the Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals is the fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth.
Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller—including gorilla-sized lemurs, 500-pound birds, and crocodiles that weighed a ton or more—roamed the earth. These great beasts, or “megafauna,” lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone.
What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths? No one event can be pinpointed as a specific cause, but several factors may have played a role. Paleomammalogist Ross D. E. MacPhee explores them all, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to account for critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses.
Along the way, we learn how time is determined in earth history; how DNA is used to explain the genomics and phylogenetic history of megafauna—and how synthetic biology and genetic engineering may be able to reintroduce these giants of the past. Until then, gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten re-create these megabeasts here in vivid detail.
Ross D. E. MacPhee is a paleomammalogist with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he has worked since 1988. He has conducted more than fifty expeditions in many parts of the world, including both polar regions. In addition to numerous scientific papers, he is the author of Race to the End: Amundsen, Scott, and the Attainment of the South Pole (2010) and the editor of Extinctions in Near Time: Causes, Contexts, and Consequences (1999).
Peter Schouten is a self-taught and trained artist who works primarily in the field of natural history illustration. He has illustrated many award-winning books and his artworks have been collected by museums and galleries around the globe. In 2015 he was awarded the title Member of the Order of Australia, in recognition of his contributions to the development of Australian arts and sciences.
Author: Ross D. E. MacPhee
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Publishing Date: November, 2018
Hardcover: 256 pages