So sharp! I feel like I laughed out loud every paragraph. Flannery looks at the Europe’s unique roles as a bridge between continents, analyzing paleontology, geology, botany, anthropology and more. Europe couldn't be as funny as it is without a backbone of research. Centuries of scholarship are translated with an irreverent wit that brings the past alive. Absolutely delightful reading.
Scholarly, hilarious, and sometimes absurd, this interdisciplinary book is fascinating. I learned that Europe had been an archipelago, and that the apex predator of one island was a giant carnivorous hedgehog. And that such a thing as the giant winged and likely dinosaur-eating Transylvanian pterosaur Hatzegopteryx existed, described elsewhere as a “giraffe-sized, quadrupedal Panzer-stork.” No kidding, look it up. Sometimes it’s the ancient fauna that amaze; other times it’s the protopaleontologists that defy belief. This natural history is about as dry as albondigas soup.
From internationally bestselling author and celebrated scientist Tim Flannery, a history of Europe unlike any before: an ecological account of the land itself and the forces shaping life on it. In Europe: A Natural History, world-renowned scientist, explorer, and conservationist Tim Flannery applies the eloquent interdisciplinary approach he used in his ecological histories of Australia and North America to the story of Europe. He begins 100 million years ago, when the continents of Asia, North America, and Africa interacted to create an island archipelago that would later become the Europe we know today. It was on these ancient tropical lands that the first distinctly European organisms evolved. Flannery teaches us about Europe's midwife toad, which has endured since the continent's beginning, while elephants, crocodiles, and giant sharks have come and gone. He explores the monumental changes wrought by the devastating comet strike and shows how rapid atmospheric shifts transformed the European archipelago into a single landmass during the Eocene. As the story moves through millions of years of evolutionary history, Flannery eventually turns to our own species, describing the immense impact humans had on the continent's flora and fauna--within 30,000 years of our arrival in Europe, the woolly rhino, the cave bear, and the giant elk, among others, would disappear completely. The story continues right up to the present, as Flannery describes Europe's leading role in wildlife restoration, and then looks ahead to ponder the continent's future: with advancements in gene editing technology, European scientists are working to recreate some of the continent's lost creatures, such as the great ox of Europe's primeval forests and even the woolly mammoth. Written with Flannery's characteristic combination of elegant prose and scientific expertise, Europe: A Natural History narrates the dramatic natural history and dynamic evolution of one of the most influential places on Earth.
About the Author
Tim Flannery is a scientist, explorer, and conservationist. He has published more than 130 scientific papers and several books, including the #1 international bestseller The Weather Makers, Throwim Way Leg, Here on Earth, and Among the Islands. He was named Australian of the Year in 2007, and from 2001 to 2013, he was Australia's Climate Commissioner.