Why was Humboldt interested in meeting with President Jefferson?
What was Humboldt’s influence on the study of the natural world?
Chapter 2 – Reverend Darwin’s Detour
What experiences of his youth helped to prepare Darwin for the voyage on The Beagle?
What geological phenomena and formations did Darwin witness? How did these shape his thinking about the age of the earth or how life changed?
What zoological evidence led Darwin to think that species evolved?
What were Thomas Malthus’ ideas, and how did Darwin react to them?
Why did Darwin delay publishing his species theory?
Chapter 3 - Drawing a Line between Monkeys and Kangaroos
Why did Wallace choose to go to the Malay Archipelago?
Compare and contrast the animals on Bali, Borneo and the western islands of the archipelago with those on Lombok, New Guinea and the eastern islands. What are the differences and why are they important?
What observations led Wallace to the idea of a “struggle for exisitance?” How were Wallace’s observations similar or different from those driving Darwin’s ideas about natural selection?
What role did knowledge of domestication play in both Darwin and Wallace’s thinking?
What influence did Thomas Huxley have on Eugene Dubois?
Why did Dubois choose to search in the Dutch East Indies for the missing link and not Africa?
What evidence did Dubois offer that the skull cap and femur were from the same individual?
What evidence did Dubois assemble to support his claim that Pithecanthropus was an intermediate between apes and modern humans?
What is the significance of cranial volume to the identification of hominid fossils? How is this measured? What other anatomical features are diagnostic of hominid versus transitional versus ape fossils?
What characteristics made Roy Chapman Andrews particularly adept at exploration?
Why were experts in different disciplines vital to the expedition and its success?
What was the significance of the discovery of dinosaur eggs?
How was Oviraptor named?
Paleontologists now believe Oviraptor did not steal eggs. What alternative explanation can you offer for the specimen discovered over a nest of eggs?
Why did the American Museum of Natural History scientists consider the mammal fossil so important?
Chapter 8 – The Day the Mesozoic Died
The extinction of the dinosaurs, ammonites and other creatures at the end of the Cretaceous was well known for the many decades prior to the Alvarezes’ discovery. Why did Walter Alvarez, a geologist, and Luis Alvarez, a nuclear physicist, crack a mystery that paleontologists and biologists had not?
What were the pieces of evidence that led to the identification of Chicxulub as the asteroid impact site?
What might be the local and global effects of future smaller or similar sized asteroid impacts?
What is the evidence for an extraterrestrial source rather than a crustal source of the abundance of iridium in Gubbio rock sections?
What would be the effect of blocking out the sun for a few years or decades?
Why did "ancestral mammals" make it through the K-T period while the dinosaurs did not?
What is the importance of pelagic sedimentary rocks for the analysis of earth's history?