The Eighth Continent
Life, Death, and Discovery in the Lost World of MadagascarBook - 2000
Since the age of dinosaurs, Madagascar has thrived in isolation off the east coast of Africa. In this real-life "lost world," hundreds of animal and plant species, most famously the lemurs, have evolved here and only here, while other creatures extinct elsewhere for tens of millions of years now vie with modern man for survival. It's a land of striking geography, from soaring mountains to vast canyon lands, from tropical rain forests to spiny desert. And its people are a conundrum unto themselves, their origins obscure, their language complex and distinct, and their beliefs fascinating. In The Eighth Continent, Peter Tyson will guide you into this, the planet's most exotic frontier, so you can see for yourself why it's been called "the naturalist's promised land."
Part scientific exploration, part adventure saga, part cultural and historical narrative, The Eighth Continent follows Tyson's journeys with four scientific experts as they explore the fourth-largest island in the world:A herpetologist with a pied piper call to reptiles who has discovered and collected more Malagasy species than any other biologist-and continues to discover more every year A paleoecologist searching an enormous cavern complex for clues as to why the island's megafauna-Galipagos-sized tortoises, lemurs as big as apes, ten-foot-tall birds, and pygmy hippos, among others-all died out less than two millennia ago An archeologist trying to answer the most basic and puzzling question about the Malagasy people: Where did they come from? A primatologist who studies elusive jungle lemurs even as she strives to prevent the island's total ecological destruction
For if Madagascar is one of the most fascinating environments on the planet, it is also one of the most endangered. As the Malagasy hack a subsistence from the island's dwindling forests, they also threaten its diverse habitats and its rich biological diversity. It is not an easy situation to resolve, nor is it easy to answer the burning question at its heart: Can Madagascar be saved? In The Eighth Continent, Peter Tyson navigates this tortuous path as he delves into the island's storied interior as well as its misty past.