9780060558048 / 0060558040

No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species


Publisher:Harper Perennial



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About the book:

In No Turning Back, Richard Ellis makes a survey of animals that have disappeared through anthropogenic or other means. "Everybody knows what extinction is," he writes, but theories of why it happens are hampered by "the inability of biologists and paleontologists to agree on exactly what a species is." Still, Ellis manages to pick perfect examples to show how extinctions happen in the natural world, and how humans unnecessarily contribute to some of them. It's hard to look at the careful illustrations of long-gone animals such as the Irish elk, Steller's sea cow, quagga, or even the dodo, without feeling that the world would be better with some of them around. Ellis also introduces little-known species currently close to extinction, such as the spot-tailed quoll, the bilby, and the saiga, to add to the list of well-known threatened animals such as the white rhinocerous or the orangutan. Ending on an optimistic note, Ellis tells how some animals have been brought back from the brink of extinction through hard work, careful conservation, and lots of money. A master of the shocking ecological fact, and a thoroughly accessible and engaging narrator of the natural world, Ellis has succeeded in explaining extinction and its causes by showing readers what there was to love about creatures long gone. --Therese Littleton

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