230 pages | 19 Color Illus. | 79 B/W Illus.
When Darwin wrote his Origin of Species, one of his main concerns was with the perceived shortness of the fossil record of life. Until the work of J. William Schopf and his colleagues, much of this history was thought to be unknowable. This book, through a memoire of Schopf’s personal recollections, documents astonishing discoveries revealing the first 85% of the history of life. These earliest periods of life on Earth emerge as a tale of individual and internationally collaborative exploration told by a scholar whose 60 years of research contributed to the recognition of the richness and diversity which forms the foundation of today’s biodiversity.
Bill Schopf is a remarkable man, a great scientist and a fine writer. The various threads of the tale he relates here add up to a storied saga of the evidenced-based search for the earliest life on the planet, as well as that of the distinguished if often otherwise anonymous men and women who were responsible for marking one of the greatest milestones in recent scientific history. The voice of Bill Schopf is a humble yet commanding one: it deserves to be heard.
Chapter 1 The Schopf Lineage
Chapter 2 Bill Schopf’s Schooling and First Year of College
Chapter 3 Earth’s Early Life – The Quest Begins
Chapter 4 The Missing Precambrian Record of Life
Chapter 5 Graduate School and Early Career
Chapter 6 The 1970s – Lucky, Time and Time Again
Chapter 7 The 1980s – The PPRG Defines the Field
Chapter 8 This Science Over the Years
Chapter 9 Today’s Status of This Science
Chapter 10 Final Comments
Addendum: Selected Relevant Literature in Chronological Order