Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Review


Great Plains Research (2018) 28(1): 102-103


Copyright © 2018, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Used by permission


In his new best-selling book, Peter Brannen, award-winning science writer, takes you on a fascinating trip through the run-up to the end of the Cretaceous extinction event and the K-Pg (Cretaceous/Paleogene) boundary, formerly called the K-T (Cretaceous/Tertiary) boundary.

Brannen interviewed many scientists who studied these events and went on field trips with them to major Cretaceous sites and to those where earlier and later extinction events happened. He presents clear explanations of what is known and not known about all of these events in a largely error-free book. Brannen details the other four big extinction events in geologic history: the End-Ordovician (about 443 million years ago); the Late Devonian (374 and 359 million years ago); the really big one, the End-Permian (252 million years ago); and the End-Triassic (201 million years ago). You might think that all these extinctions were triggered by the effects of bolide impacts, but if you did you would be wrong.

Some scientists have named the current age the ''Anthropocene," which I think, as some others do, began in 1712 CE with the invention of the steam engine. Those scientists think that our impact will be as big on life as the other big extinction events. Let's hope that they are wrong, but please read Peter Brannen's book to get some better idea than you have currently of what has gone on in the past and what is happening today.