Elsa Panciroli on mammal evolution, BEASTS BEFORE US & gardening author Maggie Stuckey, THE CONTAINER VICTORY GARDEN

We talk with Elsa Panciroli about her book, BEASTS BEFORE US: The Untold Story of Mammal Origins and Evolution. Delving into the fascinating and little-known history of mammal evolution, she provides a fascinating and uplifting look at the resilience of life on this planet, through the lens of how mammals came to be.

Then, motivated by the pandemic lockdown, many people renewed a gardening tradition that was all the rage during WWII, the Victory garden. We kick off the gardening season talking with gardening book author Maggie Stuckey about The Container Victory Garden: A Beginners Guide To Growing Your Own Groceries.

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Keywords: mammal evolution, paleontology, Elsa Panciroli, Beasts Before Us, University of Oxford, research fellow, science writers, container gardening, victory gardens, Maggie Stuckey, vegetable gardening

When Did Mammals Get Their Start?
Mammals like us got our start when the dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago, right?

No, actually. We began w-a-a-y before that, when the Earth had only one continent and centipedes the size of cars roamed the land. It was like an alien planet. Those creatures are long extinct, but mammals rebounded to spread throughout the globe.

A New Understanding of Extinction
Why is this important? Because, as we are now in the midst of the Sixth mass extinction event in the Earth’s history, we can learn a whole lot about life, extinction and regeneration from the 350 million-year-long mammal lineage we come from.

Elsa Panciroli’s book Beasts Before Us provides a fascinating and uplifting look at the resilience of life on this planet, through the lens of how mammals came to be. It reframes the narrative of our mammalian ancestors and provides a counterpoint to the stereotypes of mighty dinosaur overlords and cowering little mammals. It turns out the earliest mammals weren’t just precursors, they were pioneers.

About the Author
Elsa Panciroli is a Scottish palaeontologist who studies the evolution and ecology of extinct animals. She is a researcher based at the University of Oxford and associate researcher at the National Museums of Scotland.

Read an excerpt from Beasts Before Us

Container Gardening

Gardening season is heating up. Seedlings are sitting in home greenhouses and some are already in their beds — and containers. Some people rely on containers for home-grown veggies for convenient access and protection from pests. But many other folks rely on them for lack of space.

Container Gardening is Tricky

But gardening in containers can be tricky: they can get too little or too much water and it’s best to get varieties that thrive in small spaces.

Maggie Stuckey’s new book The Container Victory Garden is a great guide for beginners. It also recounts the history of Victory Gardens, from their start in WWI to their flourishing in WWII, with stories about some of those gardeners of old.

About The Author

Maggie Stuckey is the author of numerous books about gardening, including Gardening From the Ground Up and The Complete Herb Book.