Join other nature lovers in DNRT’s Naturalist Book Club! We will be meeting once a month at the DNRT Headquarters at Helfand Farm for lively discussion, good company, and refreshments. Wine, cocoa, and yummy treats will be served. $10 per person. Books should be purchased on your own.
Book of the month: January
A (Very) Shorty History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters By: Henry Gee
In A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth, Henry Gee zips through the last 4.6 billion years with infectious enthusiasm and intellectual rigor. Drawing on the very latest scientific understanding and writing in a clear, accessible style, he tells an enlightening tale of survival and persistence that illuminates the delicate balance within which life has always existed.
Gee (The Accidental Species), a paleontologist and senior editor at the science journal Nature, finds beauty in adversity in this eloquent account of how life evolved on Earth. Gee explains how varied life forms rose to the challenges of changing sea levels, “world-spanning” ice ages, and volcano-induced extinctions, as in the Permian period when the world became “a cauldron of magma.” He describes how the giant Pteranodon “cruised the seas… winging between the young and divergent continents” and how ancient mosses and liverworts crept onto barren, wind-scoured coasts that were “as dry and lifeless as the surface of the moon.” Early lichen life forms, he explains, were “forged in fire” and “hardened in ice” as they adapted, and Gee spotlights nature’s ingenuity as plants sprouted up and creatures began to crawl. Early conifers, for example, engineered a clever response to unfavorable growing conditions (the seed), and the small, lizardlike Westlothiana helped vertebrates make the tricky transition from the sea to arid land with a newly designed “private pond” (the egg). Gee is also a gleeful guide to the lives of early humans who, he notes, responded to ever-harsher living conditions “with larger brains and increasing stores of fat.” Action-packed and full of facts, this well-told tale will delight lay readers. –Publisher Weekly