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Out of Thin Air by Peter D Ward

Out of Thin Air by Peter D Ward is a book which focuses on how the changing levels of oxygen molded the evolution of animals over the past 500 million years. When oxygen first appeared on the Earth it was a poison to all the lifeforms living here but slowly, through the eons, creatures evolved to make this poison into the cornerstone of animal life.

Genre:  Evolutionary Science  

Publisher: Joseph Henry Press

Released:  2006

Stars:  4 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

Ward outlines how increased oxygen can contribute to the growth of new creatures and often makes life easier for creatures to survive. Conversely, he outlines the five giant extinction eras our planet has experienced and how low oxygen levels contributed not only to these extinctions but channeled the types of animals which could adapt and thrive through these harder times. The author also points out the changing oxygen levels might be more responsible for dinosaurs fading out than the famous meteor which landed in the Yucatan.

This book is an impressive journey through half a billion years of evolution. It reviews how these animals developed and why. It is well researched with 20 pages of footnotes.

If this is what you are looking to read, it will certainly get you started down the road of understanding the subject of oxygen fluctuations through time and how this affects not only life in the past but how we are living today. However, the reader should be prepared for more of a college upper grad read and not a coffee table book designed for a wider audience. At times he would be speaking of a genus of animals, and I would forget what type of creature it was so some of the data would be lost to me.

A strong attempt to change our ideas on what could be one of the more important contributors to animal evolution which until this new century was mostly ignored. I doubt anyone could read this without learning something new but be prepared for an information dense read before you pick it up.



Grab my Cyberpunk novel here. Dak has been hired to chase down the Skinjumper clones, he biggest problem, he’s dating one.




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