Book review: ‘Otherlands’ shows how much our planet changed over time

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History is more extraordinary than the wildest science fiction, a fact made abundantly clear in “Otherlands,” a nonfiction work by Thomas Halliday about the world as it was millions of years ago. Halliday, a palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist, brings this to life in an original, engaging way, from the mammoth steppe in Ice Age Alaska to the lush rainforests of Eocene Antarctica. He invites us to see this as a journey back in time to the first appearance of microbial life 550 million years ago. “My hope is that you will read this in the vein of a naturalist’s travel book, albeit one of …

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