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A Brief History of Life

Ian Tattersall

Narrated by Brett Barry

Available from Audible

Book published by Templeton Press

Ian Tattersall, a highly esteemed figure in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology, leads a fascinating tour of the history of life and the evolution of human beings.

Starting at the very beginning, Tattersall examines patterns of change in the biosphere over time, and the correlations of biological events with physical changes in the Earth’s environment. He introduces the complex of evolutionary processes, situates human beings in the luxuriant diversity of Life (demonstrating that however remarkable we may legitimately find ourselves to be, we are the product of the same basic forces and processes that have driven the evolutionary histories of all other creatures), and he places the origin of our extraordinary spiritual sensibilities in the context of the exaptational and emergent acquisition of symbolic cognition and thought.

Concise and yet comprehensive, historically penetrating and yet up-to-date, responsibly factual and yet engaging, Paleontology serves as the perfect entrée to science’s greatest story.

Ian Tattersall is a curator in the division of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Trained in archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge, and in vertebrate paleontology at Yale, Tattersall has concentrated his research since the 1960s in three main areas: the analysis of the human fossil record and its integration with evolutionary theory, the origin of human cognition, and the study of the ecology and systematics of the lemurs of Madagascar. He is also a prominent interpreter of human paleontology to the public.


“Endlessly absorbing and informative. It would be hard to imagine a better introduction to this most important and fascinating field. ”

—Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything

“In this book Tattersall succeeds in achieving very rare combinations. Paleontology: A Brief History of Life is concise and yet comprehensive, historically penetrating and yet up-to-date, responsibly factual and yet engaging. Tattersall shows, through this graceful narrative, why paleontology offers the greatest scientific story ever told. ”

—Michael Novacek, provost of science and curator of paleontology, American Museum of Natural History

“Ian Tattersall is not only a leading scientist, but also one of the greatest science writers of all time. In Paleontology: A Brief History of Life, Tattersall achieves a very ambitious goal—telling the entire story of evolution. There is much in this book to be admired. The book is very informative, entertaining, and instructive; and the story of evolution is told with verve by a real master.”

—Amir Aczel, author of Uranium Wars and The Cave and the Cathedral

“The fossil record tells the story of life’s history—and I have always found it to be the greatest story ever told. Ian Tattersall is the new Homer of paleontology—for no one has ever before conveyed the drama of the history of life quite so lucidly as he has in his riveting new book, Paleontology. I am sure that this book will inspire another generation of young paleontologists eager to delve still deeper into the fossil treasures yet to be uncovered. Ian Tattersall keeps the quest alive! ”

—Niles Eldredge, Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History

“One of our leading authorities of human evolution, Ian Tattersall, recounts science’s greatest story ever told: the history of our planet and the life on it. In his hands, the grand history life becomes a page-turning detective story with clues from the fossil record, the rocks of the world, and the DNA in every cell of every creature alive on our planet today. This is exciting science told by one our leading experts. ”

—Neil Shubin, University of Chicago paleontologist and author of Your Inner Fish



1: Rocks, Time, and Fossils

2: Evolutionary Processes

3: The Tree of Life

4: In the Beginning

5: The Paleozoic: “Ancient Life”

6: The Age of Dinosaurs

7: The Age of Mammals

8: Of Whales and Primates

9: Walkers and Toolmakers

10: A Cognitive Revolution

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks