The Story of the World in 100 Species

The Story of the World in 100 Species

by Christopher Lloyd

Paperback

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Overview

In the retitled paperback edition of his book What on Earth Evolved?, Christopher Lloyd leads us on an extraordinary journey, from the birth of life to the present day, as he explains, in a jargon-free way, the phenomenon we call “life on Earth.” Lloyd starts with the Earth “before humans,” when loose strands of genetic code swarmed over the planet, and moves on to explore the creatures that evolved in the murky deep and crept up on the shore to become pioneers of life on land. He then investigates the world “after humans” and how the coevolution of humans and a range of other key species has transformed the planet over the last twelve thousand years. In the process, he identifies the hundred most influential species that have ever lived—with candidates as diverse as slime, sea scorpions, dragonflies, potatoes, ants, tulips, sheep, and grapes—and reveals those that have most changed life on Earth.

This beautifully illustrated, wide-ranging book provides entertaining and eye-opening insight into the story of our world, mankind's place in nature, and our pivotal relationship with the Earth itself: past, present, and future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781408876381
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/27/2016
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,250,723
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Christopher Lloyd studied history at Cambridge before becoming technology correspondent for the Sunday Times. In 1994 he won the Texaco award for the Science Journalist of the Year. After leaving journalism, he ran several Internet and educational publishing businesses. In 2006 he decided to homeschool his two daughters, and the inspiration to write his first book, What On Earth Happened?, published in 2008, came during a four-month tour of Europe with his family.

whatonearthbooks.com / @wallbook

Table of Contents

Before Humans: On the impact of species that evolved in the wild 9

1 On Viruses: How loose strands of genetic code swarmed across the early Earth, inserting themselves into all forms of life - past, present and future 11

Influenza 16

HIV/AIDS 18

Potyvirus 22

Smallpox 24

2 On Simple Cells: How versatile single living cells established new patterns of evolutionary behaviour, filling every available niche with life 28

Cyanobacteria 34

Anthrax 36

Pseudomonas 38

Rhizobia 40

3 On Symbiosis: How genes and cells converged, establishing a new set of evolutionary rules that led to multicellular life 43

Slime Mould 49

Water Mould 51

Algae 54

Sponge 58

4 On Sea Life: How biological variety and constantly changing environments caused an explosion of new species to evolve in the seas 60

Stony Corals 66

Roundworm 68

Trilobice 70

Velvet Worm 72

Sea Scorpion 74

Sea Squirt 76

Shark 78

5 On Pioneers of the Land: How mutual collaboration between trailblazing species helped life colonize the Earth's barren landscape.

Prototaxites 86

Rhyniophytes 88

Lepidodendron 90

Azolia 93

Norway Spruce 95

Earthworm 97

Dung Beetle 100

Dragonfly 103

6 On Fish that Came Ashore: How the descendants of bony fish clambered ashore and were jerry-wrenched into a diverse range of forms 106

Lobe-finned Fish 112

Tiktaalik 114

Dimetrodon 116

Lystrosaurus 118

Quetzalcoatlus 120

Archaeopteryx 122

Tyrannosaurus 125

7 On Biodiversity: How beauty, collaboration, deception, parasitism and vice wove terrestrial life into a rich carpet of countless species 128

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8 On the Rise of Reason: How the mental skills of mammals gave rise to a new evolutionary-force that turned monkeys into men 157

Bat 163

Sperm Whale 165

Elephant 168

Rat 172

Australopithecus 176

Homo Erectus 179

Homo Sapiens 182

After Humans: on the impact of species that thrived in the presence of man 189

9 On Agriculture: How the birth of farming helped create a new top tier of world-conquering species, thanks to the co-evolution of humans and a few select animals and plants 191

Wheat 199

Sugarcane 202

Potato 206

Olive 209

Cod 212

Pig 215

Sheep 218

Cow 222

Chicken 226

Rice 230

Maize 234

10 On Material Wealth: How certain species were perfectly suited to providing the wealth necessary to make life comfortable for civilized man 237

Horse 242

Camel 248

Cotton 252

Rubber Tree 256

Silkworm 260

Eucalyptus 264

11 On Drugs: How certain plants and fungi diverted the development of human culture by bestowing a bevy of addictive habits 268

Cacao 274

Coffee 278

Tea 282

Cannabis 288

Tobacco 289

Yeast 293

Grape 296

Coca 300

Ergot 304

Poppy 308

Penicillium 314

Cinchona 316

12 On Companionship: How some animals have prospered by being good company but have recently provoked a moral dilemma 318

Dog 323

Cat 327

Rabbit 330

Hamster 334

13 On Beauty: How good looks, strong smells and powerful flavours in some species have proved irresistible to humans 336

Rose 341

Apple 344

Vanilla 346

Lavender 348

Black Pepper 351

Lotus 354

ChilliPepper 356

Grass 358

Orange 361

Banana 364

14 On Rivalry: How certain species have thrived with the rise of human civilizations, often despite attempts to keep them at bay 367

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The Ladder of Life: A table of the top 100 species rankes in order of overall impact 390

Postscript: Thirty species that nearly made it! 400

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