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Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, And Earth’s Ancient Atmosphere

Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, And Earth’s Ancient Atmosphere



  • Peter Douglas Ward
  • David W. Ehlert  


  • Hardcover: 282 pages
  • Publisher: National Academics Press (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0309100615
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.27 pounds


Book Description

For 65 million years dinosaurs ruled the Earth – until a deadly asteroid forced their extinction. But what accounts for the incredible longevity of dinosaurs? A renowned scientist now provides a startling explanation that is rewriting the history of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs are pretty amazing creatures. Real life monsters that have the power to fascinate us. And they’re fiery Hollywood ending only serves to make their story that much more dramatic. But fossil evidence demonstrates that dinosaurs survived several mass extinctions, seemingly unaffected by catastrophes that decimated most other life on Earth. What could explain their uncanny ability to endure through the ages?

Biologist and earth scientist Peter Ward now accounts for the remarkable indestructibility of dinosaurs by connecting their unusual respiration system with their ability to adapt to Earth’s changing environment – a system that was ultimately bequeathed to their descendants, birds. By tracing the evolutionary path back through time, slowly but deliberately connecting the dots from birds to dinosaurs, Ward describes the unique form of breathing shared by these two distant relatives – and demonstrates how this simple but remarkable characteristic provides the elusive explanation to a question that has thus far stumped scientists.

Nothing short of revolutionary in its bold presentation of an astonishing theory, this is a story of science at the edge of discovery. Ward is an outstanding guide to the process of scientific detection. Audacious and innovative in his thinking, meticulous and thoroughly detailed in his research, only a scientist of his caliber is capable of telling this surprising story.  

About the Author(s)

Peter Ward is professor of biology, professor of earth and space studies, and adjunct professor of astronomy at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Astrobiology at the University of Washington and principal investigator of the University of Washington’s node of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. He has published twelve books, including The End of Evolution, which was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times book award, and the bestselling Rare Earth.



Take a deep breath, and buy this new hardcover!, November 13, 2006 

Peter Ward is a national resource – he is making the modern revolution in Paleontology accessible to those of us who had a LOT of plastic dinosaurs (and a few synapsids, only we didn’t know that then), but failed to make a living digging.

The scope of the changes in the field is staggering and this book is letting us lay people in on the drama and excitement of the new discoveries as they happen.