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April 28, 2010 | History

Echoes of life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal about Earth History 1 edition

Cover of: Echoes of life by Susan M. Gaines



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Echoes of life
What Fossil Molecules Reveal about Earth History
Susan M. Gaines, Geoffrey Eglinton and Jürgen Rullkötter ; scientific illustrations by Florian Rommerskirchen.

Published 2009 by Oxford University Press in New York .
Written in English.

About the Book

In 1936 a German chemist identified certain organic molecules in ancient rocks and oils as the fossil remains of chlorophyll, presumably from plants that had lived millions of years in the past. Many years later this insight was revisited and the term
“biomarker” coined to describe fossil molecules whose molecular structures could reveal the presence of otherwise elusive organisms and processes—and then, the hunt was on. Echoes of Life is the story of those molecules and how they illuminate the history of the earth and its life. It is also the story of how a few maverick organic chemists and geologists defied the dictates of their disciplines and, at a time when the natural sciences were fragmenting into ever-more-specialized sub-disciplines,
reunited chemistry, biology and geology in a common endeavor.

First Sentence

Lodged in the earth’s outermost layer, ephemeral scratch on a mineral skin, life plays cards with a handful of elements—builds molecular extravaganzas of carbon and hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, or precious phosphorus, and forms the pieces to the parts that, assembled, define it. When the game is over, the cards reshu! ed, the parts dismantled—membranes ruptured, shells dissolved, bones ground to dust—a few of those organic molecules remain in the sediments and rocks, bearing witness to the distant moments of their creation.

Table of Contents

1. Molecular informants: a changing perspective of organic chemistry
2. Looking to the Rocks: Molecular Clues to the Origin of Life
3. From the moon to mars: the search for extraterrestrial life
4. Black gold: an alchemist's guide to petroleum
5. Deep sea mud: biomarker clues to climate history
6. More molecules, More Mud and the Isotopic Dimension: Ancient Environments Revealed
7. Microbiologists (finally) climb on board
8. Weird Molecules, Inconceivable Microbes, and Unlikely Proxies: Marine Ecology Revised
9. Molecular paleontology and biochemical evolution
10. Early life revisited
11. Thinking Molecularly, Anything Goes: From Mummies to Oil Spills, Doubts to New Directions
Appendix: Biomarkers at a Glance
Figure List
Selected Bibliography
A Biomarker-centric Tree of Life

Edition Notes

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Dewey Decimal Class
Library of Congress
QE516.5 .E35

The Physical Object

p. cm.
Number of pages

ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive
LC Control Number
Library Thing

History Created December 10, 2009 · 3 revisions Download catalog record: RDF / JSON

April 28, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Linked existing covers to the work.
March 14, 2010 Edited by WorkBot update details
December 10, 2009 Created by WorkBot add works page