Tunnels in Time tells the story of fossil bones of giant animals found in caves, lake beds and riverbeds across Australia. These bones fascinated ‘natural philosophers’ of the past and continue to stimulate intense scientific debate today. Inevitably, it is a story of extinctions, first of a vibrant rainforest fauna that existed ten million years ago, then of the more recent demise of the megafauna, the giant herbivores and carnivores that roamed this land during the Pleistocene era.
For the first time this book brings together 200 years of fiery debate and research seeking the cause of those extinctions. It tells of how 20 million years of changing climates and then arrival of Aboriginal people impacted on ecosystems in Australia, the ‘different’ continent. Past and current research is explained with as little technical language as possible and brought to life with anecdotes and stories. Change is, and always has been, part of nature. We humans are now the cause of unusually rapid environmental change. The insight gained from deep time provides a framework for the thinking and action of people who care for, appreciate and enjoy the Australian natural environment.
By Lyndall Dawson. Paperback/ 164 pages
Part 1: The different continent: Discovery, description and debate (1830–1950)
Chapter 1: Where science and history collide
Chapter 2: The Doldrum years (1900–1953)
Part 2: Australian Fauna: The search for origins
Chapter 3: Lengthening the time tunnel
Chapter 4: Pleistocene faunas: A new perspective: advances in the 1960s & 1970s
Chapter 5: Tackling the puzzles of Pleistocene ecology
Part 3: The Great Leap Forward: Into the 21st Century
Chapter 6: The ‘cold case’ of the missing megafauna
Chapter 7: The early Pleistocene: A peek at peak diversity
Chapter 8: Riding the climate rollercoaster
Chapter 9: Form, function and fitting in
Chapter 10: Landscape and life in the Late Pleistocene
Chapter 11: Humans in a harsh land
Chapter 12: The power of the paradigm
Epilogue: Adrift on the different continent – An odyssey
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