It is hard to overstate just how unusual Europe was towards the end of the age of the dinosaurs. It was a dynamic island arc whose individual landmasses were made up of diverse geological types, including ancient continental fragments, raised segments of oceanic crust, and land newly minted by volcanic activity. Yet even at this early stage Europe was exerting a disproportionate influence on the world.
About 100 million years ago, the interaction of three continents—Asia, North America and Africa—formed the tropical island archipelago that would become the Europe of today, a place of exceptional diversity, rapid change and high energy.
Europe: A Natural History is full of surprises. Over the millennia Europe has received countless immigrant species and transformed them. It is where the first coral reefs formed. It was once home to some of the world’s largest elephants. And it played a vital role in the evolution of our own species.
When the first modern humans arrived in Europe 40,000 years ago, they began to exert an astonishing influence on the continent’s flora and fauna, and now, Europeans lead the way in wildlife restoration—there are more wolves in Europe today than in the USA. This enthralling ecological history is more than the story of Europe and the Europeans, it will change our understanding of life itself.
Tim Flannery is a paleontologist, explorer and conservationist. He is a leading writer on climate change and the 2007 Australian of the Year. His books include the award-winning international bestseller The Weather Makers, The Future Eaters, Here on Earth and Atmosphere of Hope. He is currently chief councillor of the Climate Council.
‘This man is a national treasure, and we should heed his every word.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Accessible and engaging..An enlightening and uplifting view of the future.’ Readings on Sunlight & Seaweed
‘This new book is among [Flannery’s] best…Wonderfully thought provoking…Well informed and sobering.’ Australian on Sunlight & Seaweed
‘A small book full of big ideas…This book doesn’t just wow the reader with nifty ideas; Flannery explains how they actually work, with his signature fluency and clarity.’ Australian Book Review on Sunlight & Seaweed
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.