A Most Improbable Story : The Evolution of the Universe, Life, and Humankind book cover
1st Edition

A Most Improbable Story
The Evolution of the Universe, Life, and Humankind

ISBN 9781032218519
Published July 26, 2022 by CRC Press
318 Pages 26 Color & 28 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is a "Big History" of the evidence regarding how we came to be. It briefly explores philosophical thought and how our past might affect our future. The text summarizes different perspectives, including the strengths and weaknesses of each. The genesis of our planet is explored, especially the circumstances that must exist for complex life to arise. This brief journey highlights the history of life, the emergence of simple lifeforms, and the evolution of complex creatures, including humans. The book concludes with a discussion of why other humanoids went extinct while our species achieved dominance. The author speculates on potentialities awaiting humankind and our planet.

  • The first "Big History" written from the perspective of a biologist
  • Summarizes multiple perspectives of history
  • Documents the unique conditions for the emergence of life
  • Speculates on the future

Chapter 12 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com

Table of Contents



Perspective Matters, But Perspective Isn’t Everything – Envisioning

Humankind’s Place in the Universe

Part I: The Making of a Habitable World

1. In the Beginning – The Genesis of the Universe

2. The Life and Death of a Star

3. The Milky Way – A Goldilocks Galaxy

4. The Galactic Cradle

5. The Inimitable Earth

Part II: The Emergence of Life From a Lifeless World

6. Let There Be Life - The Rise of the Prokaryotes

7. Evolution – The Generator of Life’s Diversity

8. The Birth of the Superkingdoms – Prokaryotes, Achaea, and


9. Partnering Up – The Journey from Single Cell Eukaryotes to

Multicellular Animals

10. The Blossoming of Terrestrial Life

11. The Emergence of Genus Homo – The Earth’s First Humans Come

Into Being

12. The Genesis of Behaviorally Modern Homo sapiens – A Cognitively

Advanced Human That Can Reflect Upon Its Existence

13. Peering into Life’s Future


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Steven J. Theroux was Professor and Chair of the Natural Sciences department at Assumption University in Massachusetts. He currently teaches Genetics and Biology of Cancer at Harvard University and Assumption University.