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When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time

by Michael Benton
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005. 336 pages.

About 250 million years ago, life underwent its greatest extinction event, with up to 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. In When Life Nearly Died, Michael Benton presents the latest scientific research on the end-Permian extinction with accuracy and verve. Matt Ridley writes, "Unlike many palaeontologists, who are content to describe individual fossils, Benton also likes to think about big questions. He knows how to communicate with a general audience. ... When Life Nearly Died is now the book of choice for non-specialist readers who want to find out about the biggest catastrophe in the history of life."