Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. vii

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xiv

After finally ushering my last book into press in 2000, I soon felt another book formulating itself in my mind. I enjoyed writing The Riddled Chain, although the topic of its final chapter—the relevance of evolutionary research to contemporary environmental concerns...

read more

Chapter 1 Sparing Nature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-17

ALONG a scenic stretch of the Olentangy River, in central Ohio, is a rock jutting out of the water where I like to sit and think. I often refer to this rock and its surroundings as my “office.” As the water rushes past me I can enjoy observing a wide variety of plants and animals while I cogitate about life’s origins and destiny...

read more

Chapter 2 The Scattered Seeds

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 18-37

CHANGE is an integral part of nature. Laws of physics may stay constant, but the only persistent law of biology is that of change. The world we live in is considerably different from what it was about 100,000 years ago, when our species took its modern form. Much of that change has been guided by our own hands...

read more

Chapter 3 The Human Wedge

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 38-63

THE warm and wet tropics are a cauldron of biodiversity, so it is little surprise that the ancestry of humans can be traced to the tropical lands of Africa. The vast majority of our primate cousins, such as monkeys and apes, now live in the tropics. Such was the case sometime between six and three million years ago...

read more

Chapter 4 Genesis of a Crisis

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 64-85

FORAGING was the human occupation for most of the time our species has spent here on earth. Growing our own food is a relatively recent innovation. Before that, generation after generation of our ancestors gathered fruits, nuts, and grains for the bulk of their sustenance, and wood for their fires...

read more

Chapter 5 Germs of Existence

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 86-111

NOT far from the Chinese fossil site of Zhoukoudian, where we have found the earliest evidence of our ancestors’ spreading into temperate regions, is the modern city of Beijing. It is a sprawling city with an overwhelming number of people—well over fourteen million at the start...

read more

Chapter 6 The Great Restrictive Law

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 112-132

WHENEVER I go back to South Africa for excavations and research at the fossil sites in the Makapansgat Valley, my thoughts range beyond the changes the world has seen over the past three million years. Much of note has happened since the bones of our distant ancestors...

read more

Chapter 7 Good to the Last Drop

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 133-149

WHERE there is water there is life. Water comprises about two-thirds of our human bodily composition, and accordingly is important in every facet of our daily survival. Most of our world is covered with water, hence the abundance of life on earth. Species are more diverse...

read more

Chapter 8 Biodiversity in Action

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 150-169

PRIOR to the current wave of extinctions that is engulfing our planet, the living world has seen five mass extinctions. Despite the precarious imbalance that resulted, life on earth recovered and got back to previous levels of biodiversity, albeit slowly. In some ways this was good...

read more

Chapter 9 Epilogue: The Keystone Species with a Choice

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 170-184

EACH weekday morning, before I get down to the day’s writing and research, there is a fairly normal routine to follow. By the time I get cleaned up, dressed, have a chat with my wife, eat breakfast, dress my two boys and get them off to school...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 185-198

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 199-210

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 211