Evolutionary Catastrophes and the Science of Mass Extinctions

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* Evolutionary Catastrophes: The Science of Mass Extinctions. By Vincent Courtillot. Cambridge University Press, 1999

URL = http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521583926


Danny Lee:

"Evolutionary Catastrophes is an exploration of the role of catastrophes in mass extinctions. It is a compact and tautly written volume, into which Courtillot fits explanation of basic science, description of recent discoveries and controversies, and even some historical background — while maintaining a lively, almost chatty, tone. The result is popular science writing of the best kind, a real delight for anyone interested in geology or evolutionary history. Courtillot begins with an introduction to paleontology and mass extinctions, touching on the problems of stratigraphy and the history of uniformitarian-catastrophism debates. He then introduces the widely popularised meteorite impact explanation for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, in a historical account that starts with the Alvarezes' discovery of an iridium anomaly and follows the steady accumulation of evidence.

But the core of Evolutionary Catastrophes is an alternative explanation for this and other great mass extinctions: cataclysmic volcanism."