Publishers Weekly Review
Paleontologist Flannery (Atmosphere of Hope) pulls back the curtain on Europe's past environments, while also giving a glimpse of its possible future, in this marvelous work. Flannery begins 100 million years ago, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth and Europe was a "tropical archipelago." In this and each following section, Flannery introduces readers to the species that coexisted during a particular epoch, ranging from the very small to the very large and always including examples of the very strange, such as the "hell pigs" of the Oligocene period, between 33 million and 23 million years ago, or the Deinogalerix, the largest hedgehog to ever live, during the Miocene, between 23 million and five million years ago. Flannery also tracks the ebb and flow of less exotic species, such as relatives of bears, elephants, giraffes, and humans, and, throughout, shares a plethora of surprising facts, such as that "falcons and robins are more closely related to each other than are falcons and hawks." In the final chapters, Flannery discusses the prospects for "rewilding" Europe-perhaps by importing once-native species, including lions and elephants. Beyond this book's obvious appeal to conservation-minded Europeans, it should attract any reader interested in the past and future of the natural world. Agent: David Forrer and Kim Witherspoon, InkWell. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
Paleontologist and best-selling author Flannery (Atmosphere of Hope, 2015) mediates the scientific literature on Europe's geological and zoological history in a sweeping survey of the region's past 100-million years. Beginning with how plate tectonics shaped the land, Flannery explains how scientists read and interpret the fossil record. This leads to portraying the fauna of each formal segment of recent geological time, including predators and small amphibians and mammals. Cautioning that fossil evidence is fragmentary and partial, Flannery nevertheless revels in the findings in significant deposits that enable scientists to track evolution. The details sharpen the closer Flannery comes to the ice ages, which ended about 11,000 years ago, and the emergence of the planet's top predator, humans. The arrival in Europe of Homo sapiens and the concomitant extinction of the Neanderthals and large animals like the mammoth heralded drastic changes to the European landscape that continue to this day. Coverage of efforts to reintroduce lost flora and fauna rounds out Flannery's impressive, significant, and edifying ecological history.--Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2019 Booklist