Richard Leakey, One Of The World's Foremost Experts On Man's Evolutionary Past, Now Turns His Eye To The Future And Doesn't Like What He Sees.
To the philosophical the earth is eternal, while the human race -- presumptive keeper of the world's history -- is a mere speck in the rich stream of life. It is known that nothing upon Earth is forever; geography, climate, and plant and animal life are all subject to radical change. On five occasions in the past, catastrophic natural events have caused mass extinctions on Earth. But today humans stand alone, in dubious distinction, among Earth's species: Homo Sapiens possesses the ability to destroy entire species at will, to trigger the sixth extinction in the history of life. In The Sixth Extinction, Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin consider how the grand sprawl of human life is inexorably wreaking havoc around the world. The authors of Origins and Origins Reconsidered, unimpeachable authorities on the human fossil record, turn their attention to the most uncharted anthropological territory of all: the future, and man's role in defining it. According to Leakey and Lewin, man and his surrounding species are end products of history and chance. Now, however, humans have the unique opportunity to recognize their influence on the global ecosystem, and consciously steer the outcome in order to avoid triggering an unimaginable upheaval.
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Richard Leakey is the world’s most famous living paleoanthropologist. He resigned from his position as chairman of the National Museums of Kenya when Kenya’s president, Daniel arap Moi appointed him to head the Kenya Wildlife Service. His parents were the archaeologists Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey. His half-brother is the leading plant scientist, Colin Leakey.
Roger Lewin, PhD, is a biochemist, the former deputy editor of the British magazine New Scientist, and the author of Making Waves: Irving Dardik and His Superwave Principle, as well as many other highly praised books on biology such as Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos and Patterns in Evolution: The New Molecular View.
Paleoanthropologist Leakey and coauthor Lewin (Origins Reconsidered, LJ 9/1/92) examine biology's traditional viewpoints, which maintain a linear progression from simple to complex species development. In this scenario, survival of the fittest means success, and species extinction indicates failure. The authors also present the current trends in evolutionary science theory suggesting that the world is shaped by mass extinctions (natural catastrophes have caused five) instead of natural selection and that the shape and behavior of biological communities is driven by chaotic interaction rather than the simplistic balance-of-nature concept. Leakey and Lewin argue that Homo sapiens is the result of many chance events in evolution rather than the foreordained culmination of evolutionary excellence. Unfortunately, our self-awareness and mental capacity has given us the dubious capability of triggering a sixth extinction, destroying entire species through overhunting and habitat destruction. As the only sentient creature among animals, we have the duty to protect all of Earth's species. The authors present a powerful message based on years of observation and fieldwork. Highly recommended for all collections.?Gloria Maxwell, Kansas Cty. P.L., Kan.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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