Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Three hundred million years ago, in Carboniferous times, dragonflies grew as big as seagulls, with wingspans of nearly a meter. Researchers claim they could have flown only if the air had contained more oxygen than today - probably as much as 35 percent. Giant spiders, tree ferns, marine rock formations, and fossil charcoals all tell the same story. High oxygen levels may also explain the global firestorm that contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs after the asteroid impact.

The strange and profound effects that oxygen has had on the evolution of life pose a riddle that this audiobook sets out to answer. Oxygen is a toxic gas. Divers breathing pure oxygen at depth suffer from convulsions and lung injury. Fruit flies raised at twice the normal atmospheric levels of oxygen live half as long as their siblings. Reactive forms of oxygen, known as free radicals, are thought to cause aging in people. Yet if atmospheric oxygen reached 35 percent in the Carboniferous, why did it promote exuberant growth instead of rapid aging and death?

Oxygen takes the listener on an enthralling journey, as gripping as a thriller, as it unravels the unexpected ways in which oxygen spurred the evolution of life and death.

©2002 Nick Lane (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Oxygen

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great

Far more interesting than a book of such subject deserved to be. I enjoyed from start to finish.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for ZebraBear
  • ZebraBear
  • 09-09-20

A Story About Pretty Much Everything

Super interesting book that covers the formation of the earth, the beginning of life on our planet, evolution, genetics, health, lifestyle, diet, etc. Lot's of new information to me like: 1. LUCA, the last universal common ancestor or last universal cellular ancestor (LUCA), is the most recent population of organisms from which all organisms now living on Earth have a common descent, the most recent common ancestor of all current life on Earth. 2. The Great Oxidation Even or Catastrophe might not have been a catastrophe at all. Meaning, a surplus of oxygen in the atmosphere after the invention of photosynthesis might not have caused a mass extinction as has been widely speculated. 3. Photosynthesis evolved only once. 4. Were it not for the invention of photosynthesis, which created a surplus of oxygen in the atmosphere, which in turn helped to create an ozone layer, Earth would have lost it's liquid oceans to evaporation as happened to the liquid oceans on Mars and Venus. This also points to the fact that if life ever existed on Mars and Venus, it certainly never evolved the ability to photosynthesis. 5. Mitochondria, by taking up residence, or more likely, seeking refuge inside a the cell membrane, might have found a way to perpetuate the conditions of a low-oxygen environment from which it originally evolved as a bacteria billions of years ago! Whoa! Finally, I listed to the audio book which was read by Nigel Patterson. Patterson might be my favorite narrator. I could listen to him read just about anything.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Richard
  • Richard
  • 14-09-20

Disturbing narration, dated material

I'm well-adapted to the UK use of the mother tongue, but the narrator-Nigel-Patterson- spoke in an imperious, suck-in- the last syllable amateurish tone that made the entire book a very tedious listen all the way through. Nick Lane is a fabulous writer, though the material presented is out of date. I do not recommend this book.The narration ruined it;