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Once and Future Giants


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Elegy for the Mastodon 2. Mammoth Tracks 3. Giants Down Under 4. Wild Dreams 5. Wild Realities 6. The Big Heat 7. Dead Beasts Walking References Index

About the Author

Sharon Levy is a freelance science writer who specializes in making natural resource and conservation issues accessible for a broad audience. She is a contributing editor at OnEarth magazine and writes regularly for National Wildlife, BioScience, and New Scientist. Her work has appeared in Nature, Natural History, Audubon, High Country News, and Discovery Channel Online. She lives in Humboldt County, California.


"Sharon Levy does a marvellous job of explaining the complex and competing theories behind these mass Pleistocene extinctions, while capturing the fervour and enthusiasm of the scientists who dedicate their lives to solving the mystery." --Kat Austen, New Scientist "Beautifully connects the world as we know it to one that, on a geological scale, disappeared only yesterday.... Levy's book effectively states the case for those who want to heal ecological wounds thought to have been opened by prehistoric humans." --Brian Switek, Wired "The book tackles the often conflicting theories and research in such a way that lay readers can understand what scientists think happened in the past and what they see happening now. But the big question is whether we can reverse these trends. Levy outlines possible methods to save some of the living megafauna and rebalance ecosystems.... Highly recommended for all interested readers." --Library Journal "In a series of fascinating discussions Levy breathes life into these long-extinct animals, introduces readers to important lessons to be learned from extinction events, and considers proposals for resurrecting Ice Age ecosystems.... This well-written, general interest book on basic ecology will interest anyone concerned about the health of the environment and the importance of conserving dwindling wilderness resources." --Choice "The book provides, in a more convincing way than I have read anywhere else, an integrated account of the past extinction of megafauna, the impact of these losses on the modern world, and the present status and conservation of large mammals globally." --Adrian Lister, PLoS Biology "It seems likely that human hunting played some part in many of these extinctions.... Biologist and journalist Sharon Levy lays out the evidence for this theory--and explores what this species drain can teach us now. The patterns and consequences of the Pleistocene die-offs can help us to predict how landscapes will change if we lose big mammals, and help us to spot warning signs of impending extinctions." --Emma Marris, Nature "I found this educational and extremely interesting. Levy paints a picture of the Pleistocene that easily draws the reader into the prehistoric world of the megafauna." -- Biological Conservation "Packed full of fascinating work, Once and Future Giants successfully marries modern investigations to ancient evidence, creating an interesting and thought provoking read that raises questions regarding the true 'natural state' of our Earth, our impacts upon it and the importance of megafauna to struggling ecosystems across the globe." --The Biologist

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