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For three billion years or so evolution happens slowly, with species crafted by natural selection across millennia. A few hundred thousand years ago, along came a bolshie, big-brained, bipedal primate we now call ‘Homo sapiens’, and with that the Earth’s natural history came to an abrupt end. In her entertaining and thought-provoking post-natural history guide, Helen Pilcher invites us to meet key species that have been sculpted by humanity, as well as the researchers and conservationists who create, manage and tend to these post-natural creations. Helen tells us that we’ve shaped the DNA of the animal kingdom and in so doing, altered the fate of life on earth. The fate of all living things is irrevocably intertwined with our own, and through climate change, humans have now affected even the most remote environments and their inhabitants, and studies suggest that through our actions we are forcing some animals to evolve at breakneck speed to survive. Whilst some are thriving, others are on the brink of extinction, and for others the only option is life in captivity. Today, it’s not just the fittest that survive, sometimes it’s the ones we decide to let live.
Helen Pilcher is a science writer and comedian, with a PhD in stem cell biology and years of stand-up comedy under her belt. Helen has worked as a freelance writer for the last 12 years, and she has written for the Guardian, New Scientist, BBC online, BBC Wildlife and Nature, for which she was formerly a reporter. Helen is author of Bring Back the King, a Radio 2 Fact not Fiction book of the week described by comedian Sara Pascoe as ‘science at its funniest’.