Top 2016 Historical Geology Books

These are my top two historical geology books published in 2016. Not that there weren’t more this year, but I was only focused on these two topics: the evolution of biodiversity in deep time, and the origin of life. YMMV, and they are not ranked in any way. Included is the text blurb; personal review available on request!

Want more book recommendations? Check out the other top 2016 book lists: Zoology; Invertebrates; Arthropods; Vertebrates; Humans and Primates; Phylogenetics; Evolution; Ecology; Geology; Palaeontology; Botany; Environmental; Climate Change; History; Philosophy.


  • Uniting the conceptual foundations of the physical sciences and biology, this groundbreaking multidisciplinary book explores the origin of life as a planetary process. Combining geology, geochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, evolution and statistical physics to create an inclusive picture of the living state, the authors develop the argument that the emergence of life was a necessary cascade of non-equilibrium phase transitions that opened new channels for chemical energy flow on Earth. This full colour and logically structured book introduces the main areas of significance and provides a well-ordered and accessible introduction to multiple literatures outside the confines of disciplinary specializations, as well as including an extensive bibliography to provide context and further reading. For researchers, professionals entering the field or specialists looking for a coherent overview, The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth: The Emergence of the Fourth Geosphere brings together diverse perspectives to form a unified picture of the origin of life and the ongoing organization of the biosphere.


  • This uniquely interdisciplinary textbook explores the exciting and complex relationship between Earth’s geological history and the biodiversity of life. Its innovative design provides a seamless learning experience, clarifying major concepts step by step with detailed textual explanations complemented by detailed figures, diagrams and vibrant pictures. Thanks to its layout, the respective concepts can be studied individually, as part of the broader framework of each chapter, or as they relate to the book as a whole. It provides in-depth coverage of: – Earth’s formation and subsequent geological history, including patterns of climate change and atmospheric evolution; – The early stages of life, from microbial ‘primordial soup’ theories to the fossil record’s most valuable contributions; – Mechanisms of mutual influence between living organisms and the environment: how life changed Earth’s history whilst, at the same time, environmental pressures continue to shape the evolution of species; – Basic ideas in biodiversity studies: species concepts, measurement techniques, and global distribution patterns; – Biological systematics, from their historical origins in Greek philosophy and Biblical stories to Darwinian evolution by natural selection, and to phylogenetics based on cutting-edge molecular techniques. This book’s four major sections offer a fresh cross-disciplinary overview of biodiversity and the Earth’s history. Among many other concepts, they reveal the massive diversity of eukaryotes, explain the geological processes behind fossilisation, and provide an eye-opening account of the relatively short period of human evolution in the context of Earth’s 4.6 billion-year history. Employing a combination of proven didactic tools, Biodiversity and Earth History is simultaneously a reading reference, illustrated guide, and encyclopaedia of organismal biology and geology. It is aimed at school- and university-level students, as well as members of the public fascinated by the intricate interrelationship of living organisms and their environment.


    Want more book recommendations? Check out the other top 2016 book lists: Zoology; Invertebrates; Arthropods; Vertebrates; Humans and Primates; Phylogenetics; Evolution; Ecology; Geology; Palaeontology; Botany; Environmental; Climate Change; History; Philosophy.

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