A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth

Henry Gee

A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth



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A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth is a brief journey through time. Telling the entire history of life on Earth in a nutshell is a rather daunting task, requiring a keen talent for analysing, summarising and reassembling huge amounts of information and data. From the birth of the universe, to the first forms of life on Earth, from the evolution of humans to the present day, this book guides the reader through time and space. Life on Earth tells the story of an ever changing and constantly growing evolutionary process, which has allowed life forms to adapt to changes in their habitat, and the various species to evolve. Despite inevitable further mass extinctions in the future, life on Earth will continue to prevail. This eternal capacity for renewal demonstrates one of the fascinating aspects of life on Earth, which humans, now that we are aware of our impact, must protect, at all costs.

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Analysis and key concepts


The origin of the universe, which dates back 14 billion years, triggered a volatile and unstoppable process


Life on Earth first emerged some 4 billion years ago


The evolution of life on Earth is an inevitable and unstoppable process, which even prevails over destruction


The journey of life on Earth teaches us about the inevitable passage of time, and that humans occupy a miniscule part of it


Humans have a great responsibility to protect the planet


Even though it is uncertain, the future is full of hope




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Discover, in broad terms, the history of life on Earth.
  • Understand how humans have adapted to external conditions, and found the drive to evolve.
  • Try to imagine a different future for humans living on Earth.

Henry Gee is a renowned science journalist, who writes regularly for Nature magazine. He is also an author, and has published numerous books such as Jacob's Ladder, In Search of Deep Time, The Science of Middle-Earth and The Accidental Species. His articles have appeared in major newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, and BBC Focus.

Publishing house:

St. Martin's Griffin