What on Earth Evolved? ... in Brief: 100 Species That Have Changed the World
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Why have creatures evolved as they are? Which species have been the most successful? How do life forms adapt to a world dominated by nearly seven billion humans? Christopher Lloyd leads us on an exhilarating journey from the birth of life to the present day, as he attempts to answer these fundamental questions. Along the way, he reveals the stories of the 100 most influential species that have ever lived, from slime, dragonflies, and dung beetles to dogs, yeast, and bananas. These 100 species are scored and ranked in order of their impact on the planet, life and people. What on Earth Evolved ... in Brief? is a lively and eye-opening insight into mankind's place in nature, and our pivotal relationship with the Earth itself: past, present and future.
took so long for multicellular life to emerge. After all, the first traces of Eukaryotic life appear about one billion years before the first seaweed and sponge-like fossils. The reason for this delay is now thought to be down to levels of atmospheric oxygen. Collagen and other proteins that provide the glue that help cells stick together can be manufactured only in oxygen-rich environments. Therefore only when levels of oxygen increased sufficiently (due to photosynthesizing cyanobacteria, see
population in 430 BC. From his account it seems almost certain that a smallpox epidemic contributed significantly to the Spartan victory in the famous Peloponnesian Wars (431–404 BC). By 250 BC clear evidence emerges of smallpox infection in China, possibly spread by central Asian Huns. Frequent outbreaks followed in succeeding centuries and by the sixth century it had spread from Korea to Japan via Buddhist monks. Urbanization in Japan from 710 (with the building of the imperial capital of
swapped for gold from the south Sahara Desert in the markets of Champagne, now in northern France. Families such as the Medici in Florence became fabulously rich, patronizing the arts and triggering what is known to history as the Italian Renaissance. Meanwhile gold from the wool trade filled the coffers of the Cistercians, who became so rich that in the sixteenth century the English monarch Henry VIII used his marital dispute with the Pope as an excuse to avail himself of their fabulous
migrations across the Alaskan land bridge, stocks had already spread throughout Asia, reaching as far as the Middle East. Two-humped varieties (called Bactrian camels) thrived in the wetter climate of central Asia, whereas one-humped dromedaries, now by far the most successful species, lived in dry hot Arabian scrublands – habitats that became increasingly common throughout the Middle East as the climate dried out from c. 5000 BC. Thanks to a range of brilliant evolutionary adaptations, camels
has been collecting in the middle of this vortex for more than fifty years. ‘This part of the ocean is like a giant toilet bowl that never flushes … Waste that washes up on to Kamilo Beach goes down a foot deep. At one time there were toothbrushes, pens, cigarette lighters, plastic bottles and caps, but now it’s been ground down by the weather into plastic sand.’ These tiny plastic particles wash into the sea as microscopic fragments, with long-term health risks to both the marine food chain