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History of Life, 4th Edition



History of Life, 4th Edition

Richard Cowen

ISBN: 978-1-118-68513-6 April 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 336 Pages

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This text is aimed at students and anyone interested in the history of life on our planet. It explores the 'whys' of events that occurred, and in this newest edition, it takes a closer look at the evolution of the physical earth and the strong interactions between organisms and environment. The book’s coverage includes geography, climate, atmosphere, ocean, and land (a changing stage) while following interplay between organisms. Also new to this edition is a dedicated website which explores additional environmental factors and supplemental topics, and provides interactive exercises, a detailed glossary, key links and all art in downloadable form. The art is also available to instructors on CD-ROM in PowerPoint and Jpeg formats.

An Instructor manual CD-ROM for this title is available. Please contact our Higher Education team at for more information.


1. The Origin of Life on Earth.

2. Earth’s Earliest Life.

3. Sex and Nuclei: Eukaryotes.

4. The Evolution of Metazoans.

5. The Cambrian Explosion.

6. Changing Life in a Changing World.

7. The Early Vertebrates.

8. Leaving the Water.

9. Tetrapods and Amniotes.

10. Early Amniotes and Thermoregulation.

11. The Triassic Takeover.

12. Dinosaurs.

13. The Evolution of Flight.

14. The Modernization of Land and Sea.

15. The Origin of Mammals.

16. The End of Dinosaurs.

17. Cenozoic Mammals: Origins, Guilds and Trends.

18. Geography and Evolution.

19. Primates.

20. Evolving Toward Humans.

21. Life in the Ice Ages.



Praise for the New Edition:

"His material is accessible to even the uninitiated, but is still able to include fairly nuanced arguments. Mr. Cowen's gentle wit is much appreciated. This is a wonderful text, written in an engaging style by an author with both deep and broad knowledge of the history of life."
Emily Buchholtz, Wellesley College <!--end-->

"...the History of Life is a superb book which has no peer among published texts describing the macroevolution of life on Earth and the abiotic and biotic factors that have influenced the evolutionary history of living organisms."
Robert McMahon, U of Texas at Arlington

Praise for the Third Edition:

Anybody interested in the evolution of the Earth and its living organisms, especially animals, will find the content of this book useful and interesting. [...] I would recommend the book to those readers who would like to gain a basic knowledge on the Earth's evolution accompanied with detailed description of the evolution of animals.
L. Natr, Photosynthetica 40

'Should be compulsory for everyone who wants to call him/herself a palaeontologist.' J.W.F Reumer, PalArch's Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, (2006)

  • Covers the field succinctly with the appropriate depth for the undergraduate market.
  • Examines vertebrates in depth, the easiest group of organisms for students to focus on.
  • Draws examples from both vertebrate and invertebrate fossil record.
  • Focuses more on the evolution of the physical earth and the influences of environmental conditions on evolution.