Mass Extinction

Mass-Extinction Debates: How Science Works in a Crisis

edited by William Glen
Darby, PA: Diane Publishing Co., 1994. 370 pages.

When the impact hypothesis of the end-Cretaceous extinction was advanced in 1980, it sparked a massive debate among scientists. The articles included in The Mass-Extinction Debates attempt, in the words of its editor, to "take up the philosophy of those ideas, the logic and mode of their argumentation, and the behavior of the scientists involved." Contributors include William Glen, Elisabeth S. Clemens, Digby J. McLaren, J. John Sepkoski Jr., David M. Raup, S. V. M. Clube, Herbert R. Shaw, Leigh M. Van Valen, Kenneth J. Hsü, and John C. Briggs; interviews with William A.

Rivers in Time: The Search for Clues to Earth's Mass Extinctions

by Peter D. Ward
New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. 320 pages.

From the publisher: "The book presents the gripping tale of the author's investigations into the history of life and death on Earth through a series of expeditions that have brought him ever closer to the truth about mass extinctions, past and future.

Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities

by Tony Hallam
New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 240 pages.

In Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities, the renowned geologist Tony Hallam reviews the cataclysmic events that have affected the career of life over the past half-billion years. Not concerned to promote a single hypothesis, he reviews a range of possible causes for mass extinctions, both individually and acting in concert. David J.

Evolutionary Catastrophes: The Science of Mass Extinction

by Vincent Courtillot
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 188 pages.

Originally published in French in 1995, Evolutionary Catastrophes seeks to explain the competing theories on the causes of mass extinctions to a general audience, including, en passant, a discussion of the personalities involved and of the nature of science. Presenting the evidence for and against the rival accounts — asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions — Courtillot argues that the driving force of the mass extinctions of the last 300 million years was volcanic activity.