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La Vida En Un Joven Planeta

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  256 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews

Australopithecines, dinosaurs, trilobites--such fossils conjure up images of lost worlds filled with vanished organisms. But in the full history of life, ancient animals, even the trilobites, form only the half-billion-year tip of a nearly four-billion-year iceberg. Andrew Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian
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Published February 1st 2004 by Critica (first published 2003)
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Peter Tillman
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, sci-tech, at-bg
This is an appealing combination of a natural history of the first three billion years of life on Earth, which is (roughly) the author’s professional specialty, along with a scientific memoir of his pertinent field work. Knoll is a good writer, and despite the book’s publication 15 years ago (2003), you won’t go seriously astray. I read this book in parallel with Nick Lane's Mitochondria book (which I found a much harder read). They both cover some of the ...more
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: galileos-gift
Andrew H. Knoll is a paleontologist who is particularly conversant with the integrative approaches of modern day evolutionary science. Rooted in the rocks, he writes with skill about the geological and geophysical processes at work in early earth formation, and their implications for the evolution of life. He explains the complex geochemistry that became, in time, a biochemistry. He describes the so-called evo-devo (I.e., evolutionary developmental biology) revolution with verve-both as an obser ...more
Corinna Bechko
Nicely written and well argued, especially in later chapters when the concept of "snowball Earth" reared its head.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Madeleine by: calhouths
Thing to keep in mind: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth sounds fascinating, but nothing much bigger than a microbacteria actually *evolved*. This book ends just as stuff starts growing legs and arms and wings and crawling out of the ocean and generally becoming *interesting*.

This book should be named: "rocks--with microscopic fossils, in places with funny scandanavian names." But that's probably what you should expect when you get book recommendations from geologists.

Joking as
Stephen Palmer
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I very rarely give 5/5 reviews, and then only to classics, but this is too good to receive four stars. It's an exceptional guide to the current state of thinking about the three billion years of the evolution of life leading up to the Cambrian Explosion. Written by an expert in the field, with a whole professional life behind him, it's superbly, clearly and engagingly written - I haven't read a natural history book as good as this for a while. All phases of life are covered, from the very earlie ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well researched and presented. Covers a time period with which most are not familiar. The author presents the research as a good scientist, with a healthy dose of skepticism, while basing conclusions on well established research. He points out areas where more research is needed. He has his own theories, and is careful to present them as such. A good read, especially if you've heard of snowball earth and want some more background.
A little slow going at first, but a fascinating look at the study of ancient microfossils. The majority of the time life was on planet Earth (~3 billion years), it existed predominantly as single-celled organisms. We owe our habitable planet (and its established biogeochemical cycles) to the metabolism of tiny living beings from long, long ago.
Fred Dameron
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives me more hope for earths future. I don't mean as far as humankind currently committing our own extinction is concerned; I mean that after we kill ourselves off in a purple algae world the recovery time will be, "A mere tick of the geological clock."

Let me explain.

It took around 3,000,000,000 years for the first chemicals to start joining together and forming microscopic life. That life was living in a sulfide/sulfate world. We can't live in a sulfide/sulfate world but purple al
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book about the first three billion years of life on Planet Earth. It’s a story well told and beautifully written, with lots of information, and some really entertaining anecdotes. Knoll knows how to present the relatively uneventful evolution of unicellular life interesting and with style.
Nick Winlund
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional overview of the paleontological, biochemical and geochemical processes and mechanisms that made up our early Earth. The book goes into sediments, metamorphic rocks, fossils, ocean chemistry and atmospheric processes. Concise and well written!
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Read for Geology 143 class.
Chris Farrell
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a totally fascinating, if often impenetrable, review of the recent science of the early life and ecology of Earth. Chemistry was my science of choice in college, but I hadn't really kept up in the interim, I found the more recent advances in our understanding of how early single-celled life developed and evolved and created the conditions for more complex life by modifying the atmosphere engrossing. Other interesting topics include how periodic extinction events may have cleared the ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On one hand, this book is remarkably accessible. This book could be going straight for the deep end, requiring a background in paleontology, molecular biology, and geology. For somebody with none of these things, beyond fuzzy memories of grade school science and some popular science reading, you will understand most everything that is happening here and find quite a bit of it compelling.

On the other hand, this book is really scattered. Almost every chapter starts with some "We're here in this r
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
An absolute joy to read. It explains what early life was like and how it evolved. Clearly explaining the theories and practices of the interdisciplinary sciences involved, this book is one of the best books on evolution I've read. What I like about it is that its not so abstract and heavy on the theory like other books on similar subjects seem to be, it focuses mostly on the facts and presents a few theories very clearly when facts are not present. You will learn a lot from this book, which is w ...more
Martin Oetiker
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This is a beautifully written, well argued account of the history of life on Earth from earliest signs of biochemical evolution 3.8 Bya to the Cambrian explosion of multicellular organisms 550Mya, by one of the leading experts in this field. It includes first hand details of the fieldwork and laboratory analyses carried out by himself and many others, and the evidence painstakingly gleaned, that underpin the latest theories in evolutionary sciences. It covers all the major innovations of life in ...more
Dave Malone
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book listed as a top volume to read about the history of the beginning of the earth / life on our planet. I was very pleased. It's a great read, fascinating, and very well written. He has a great writing style and a quick sense of humor to get across his points about paleontology. As other reviewers have noted, be aware this is about life on the planet when it was just bacteria--there isn't much talk of animals, but that was fine with me--I wanted to know about the earliest of origi ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great breakdown of early life on Earth

This gives a fascinating perspective on early life, integrating geology, paleontology, and microbiology to fill in the knowledge gap of Earth's early history. Recommended read but it can get a bit bogged down in the geology for my taste. I had no trouble rushing through some details of rocks to get to the heart of our current knowledge on the evolution of early unicellular organisms and eukaryogenesis. Citations are replaced with recommended reading at back-
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is a fascinating book. The author takes the reader on a journey through the development of life on early earth and shows the multiple lines of evidence used to reach the conclusions he presents. My only criticism, and the reason I gave the book four stars, is that the writing is a heavy slog. I understand the subject matter does not lend itself to easy reading, but in some cases the reader must reread sections or paragraphs in order to follow the idea being put forth. The author's enthusias ...more
Elio Nakouzi
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a dearth of public-oriented books that cover this subject. And one of the best American micro-paleontologists has tried to fill it with this very interesting book. It is a bit on the technical side, written in a rather laborious fashion with often long sentences, and includes a lot of nomenclature that make it uneasy to read.

However, there is a lot to learn from this top academic. I am not an expert in this field, but it seemed very comprehensive and well worth the read.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read, especially for a person new to the kinds of things the book introduces. I can't verify how true the content is or how consistent it is with contemporary scientific research on evolution and planetary science, but I liked the writing enough to read it. Basically, for what it is - a layman's science history of earth's evolution, it didn't bore me to death.
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Evo-Devos
Recommended to Fran by: Sean Carroll
I continue to be fascinated by the overlap of genetics and evolution. This book touched on that in a provocative but still elusive way, I need to read more! It also highlights the complexity of the chemistry involved in the establishment and evolution of life on Earth. May be boring to some, but I loved it.
Laura Cooper
Some good stuff on endosymbiosis and an interesting reframing of the Cambrian Explosion, a nice companion piece to "Wonderful Life", coming at the Cambrian Explosion from the Proterozoic and Archaean.
Daniel Martins
Fantastic Book !

Despite been written in 2003/2004, it is still pretty accurate and modern. Andrew Knoll is a very articulate writer, portraying concepts in a competent way.

A must read for anyone who wishes to understand precambrian research and early life on earth.

Tracy Black
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! Even though it's fairly technical, it is so well written that it seemed lighter than it was. I had no idea how much was actually known about Pre-Cambrian life. Knoll is a top-notch author and I'll be watching future books.
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
A very good review of earth pre-life and after life began but when it was mostly much simpler than it is now. A little dry....
John Rogers
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To have a glimpse of how life began on earth was worth the struggle of slogging through this science primer on evolution.
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An abridged history of life on planet Earth. If you like natural history...
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very readable explanation about a paleontologist's view of the beginning of life on earth through the Cambrian explosion, which is where recognizable fossils start appearing.
Ilham Fajar
rated it really liked it
Mar 04, 2017
rated it it was ok
Feb 28, 2013
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  • Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin
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Professor of Natural History and a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.

More info about Knoll's work on the Knoll Lab website.
More about Andrew H. Knoll...

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