Tunnels in Time: The discovery, ecology and extinction of Australia's marsupial megafauna


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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

ISBN: 9780646817378

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