Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Future of Our Planet

Is paleontology going extinct?
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Half of all single-celled shelled organisms on the sea floor were wiped out, but many microorganisms on the ocean surface flourished during the PETM and expanded their habitats. The new study suggests that today's marine life may not be so lucky, wrote geologist Peter Stassen of the University of Leuven in an editorial accompanying the new research. During the PETM, those organisms may have had time to adapt through migration or evolution—time that won't be available to modern sea life. Scott Wing , curator of fossil plants at the Smithsonian Institution, said the rate of carbon release during the PETM has been an important question.

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Scientists have to read the story told in sediment—the layers of organic material that have settled year by year on the ocean floor. Zeebe and his colleagues, using a sediment core drilled in New Jersey, based their analysis on the pattern of carbon and oxygen isotopes in the sediment samples. The new estimate of the rate of carbon release at the PETM onset is similar to that found in by a team led by Pennsylvania State University. Deep Future. Curt Stager. Under a Green Sky.

Peter D. Michael J. Paleozoic Age. Giancarlo Varnier. Remarkable Creatures. Sean B. Across Atlantic Ice. Dennis Stanford. The Emerald Planet. David Beerling. Frozen in Time. Michael Oard.

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Prothero begins with the "greenhouse of the dinosaurs," the global-warming episode that dominated the Age of Dinosaurs and the early Age of Mammals. He describes the remarkable creatures that once populated the earth and draws on his experiences collecting fossils in the Big Badlands of South Dakota to sketch their world. Prothero then discusses the growth of the first Antarctic glaciers, which marked the Eocene-Oligocene transition, and shares his own anecdotes of excavations and controversies among colleagues that have shaped our understanding of the contemporary and prehistoric world.

The volume concludes with observations about Nisqually Glacier and other locations that show how global warming is happening much quicker than previously predicted, irrevocably changing the balance of the earth's thermostat.