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In Pursuit of Early Mammals

Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska

Publication Year: 2013

In Pursuit of Early Mammals presents the history of the mammals that lived during the Mesozoic era, the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and describes their origins, anatomy, systematics, paleobiology, and distribution. It also tells the story of the author, a world-renowned specialist on these animals, and the other prominent paleontologists who have studied them. Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska was the first woman to lead large-scale paleontological expeditions, including eight to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, which brought back important collections of dinosaur, early mammal, and other fossils. She shares the difficulties and pleasures encountered in finding rare fossils and describes the changing views on early mammals made possible by these discoveries.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Life of the Past


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Since the demise of non-avian dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, modern mammals—that is to say, marsupials, placentals, and monotremes—have become conspicuous, diverse elements of Earth’s biota. But the family tree that includes mammals and their nearest relatives (mammaliaforms, in technical parlance) is far more deeply rooted in time, ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book presents a history of Mesozoic mammals as seen through the eyes of people studying them, including myself and the colleagues with whom I had a chance to work over the years. The Mesozoic Era was the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Mammals living with them were mostly small, ...

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pp. xv-xvi

During the more than sixty years of my scientific life, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with numerous eminent scientists, many of whom have now passed away. From my late colleagues, friends, and teachers, I learned much and enjoyed our cooperation. ...

List of Institutional Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-xviii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-12

The evolution of mammals during the age of dinosaurs (in the Mesozoic era; see figure 1.0), which encompasses 160 million years (Ma), or more than two-thirds of all mammalian history, was for a long time poorly known, with intriguing mysteries surrounding their origins and the relations among the different groups. ...

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2. Methods: Collecting Materials and Establishing Relationships

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pp. 13-18

Until about the middle of the twentieth century, paleontologists thought that Mesozoic mammals were small, rare, and poorly differentiated creatures represented by primitive groups. Intensification of search for Mesozoic mammals all around the world, however, changed this opinion. ...

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3. Paleontological Exploration of Mongolia by American, Japanese, Soviet, and Russian Expeditions, including the Mongolian Academy/American Museum and Mongolia/Japan Joint Expeditions

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pp. 19-34

At the end of the nineteenth century, paleontological investigations had become fairly advanced in the United States and in various parts of Europe. At that time the problem of the place of origin of placental mammals was widely discussed. Rich placental faunas were known from Paleocene deposits, ...

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4. The Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expeditions, 1963–1971, and the Nomadic Expedition, 2002

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pp. 35-72

Although this is not a book about dinosaurs, during the course of the Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expeditions we collected skeletons of dinosaurs that were coeval with early mammals, and we spent a lot of time and effort in their excavation and later on in their study. These giant skeletons are obviously much more spectacular than those of minute mammals, ...

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5. Origins of Mammals and the Earliest Representatives of Mammaliaforms and Mammals

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pp. 73-98

In the more than 500 million-year-long history of vertebrates, mammals did not appear until quite late, some 225 million years ago. Although the first Mesozoic mammal was discovered as early as 1764 in England, its significance was not understood until more than 100 years later, in 1871, ...

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6. Haramiyidans and Probable Related Forms

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pp. 99-106

As early as 1847 Pleininger erected the genus Microlestes with a single species, M. antiquus, based on a minute, double-rooted tooth boasting two rows of cusps. It derived from the Upper Triassic beds (Norian-Rhaetian boundary) of Dagerlof, Württemberg, Germany. The name Microlestes was already occupied, as were other names subsequently erected to replace it, ...

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7. Docodontans

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pp. 107-112

The docodontans are a group of very small mammaliaforms, mostly mole size or even smaller, of Middle to Late Jurassic age. An exception with respect to size is the Middle Jurassic Castorocauda lutrasimilis, with a skull that measures 6 cm and a body about 42 cm long (Ji, Luo, Yuan, and Tabrum 2006). ...

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8. Eutriconodontans

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pp. 113-118

The descriptive terms “triconodont teeth” or “triconodont mammals” were first used in the nineteenth century even before the formal taxon Triconodonta was proposed by Osborn (1888). Osborn assigned to Triconodonta all mammals in which the main three cusps on the molars were aligned from front to back on the tooth crown. ...

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9. Monotremes and the Issue of Australosphenida and Tribosphenida

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pp. 119-138

At the end of the eighteenth century the first information about a strange animal from Australia–the platypus–reached the European zoological community (figure 9.1A). In August 1798, Captain John Hunter, the governor of the penal colony at Sydney, sent a skin of the platypus to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, of which he was a member. ...

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10. Multituberculates and Gondwanatherians

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pp. 139-162

Multituberculates have sometimes been called “the rodents of the Mesozoic” because of their superficial similarity to rodents, especially in the structure of the lower jaw and the arrangement of the dentition. Omnivorous or herbivorous, as today’s rodents are, they likely occupied similar ecological niches. ...

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11. “Symmetrodontans”

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pp. 163-170

In Jurassic and Early Cretaceous rocks one may find minute mammal jaws with teeth, both upper and lower, as well as the isolated molar teeth of the same type. These teeth differ from those of cynodonts and from the primitive mammals earlier referred to as “triconodontans” (now assigned to morganucodontans and eutriconodontans; see chapter 5) ...

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12. “Eupantotherians” and the Origin of Tribosphenic and Pseudotribosphenic Molars

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pp. 171-182

“Eupantotherians” are an important group of small mammals of the Mesozoic, intermediate between the “symmetrodontans” and the tribosphenidans. The term “Eupantotheria” has a long history. Marsh (1880) erected the order Pantotheria, and in a later paper (1887), he included four families: ...

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13. Tribotheria, Metatheria, and the Issue of the Deltatheroida

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pp. 183-192

The early members of the Metatheria (including Marsupialia) and Eutheria (including Placentalia) had tribosphenic molars. In addition, there are isolated tribosphenic molars in Early and Late Cretaceous rocks that, because of the incompleteness of the data, cannot be assigned to either Metatheria or Eutheria. ...

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14. Eutherian and Placental Mammals

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pp. 193-208

The position of the Placentalia among mammals and the division of Placentalia into lower rank taxonomic units were for a long time debated. Gill (1872) grouped both marsupials and placentals into the Eutheria, Huxley (1880) limited the scope of Eutheria to Placentalia, and some authors treated Placentalia and Eutheria as synonyms (e.g., Simpson 1945; Kemp 2005). ...

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15. Aspects of Paleobiology of Mammaliaforms and Early Mammals

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pp. 209-218

The last two decades have brought an unusual blooming of papers that clearly show that Mesozoic mammaliaforms and mammals were much more diversified than had been previously thought. Luo (2007a, b), in his excellent reviews of Mesozoic mammal diversification, recognized five “experiments.” ...

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16. Diversification of Mammaliaforms and Mesozoic Mammals: A Summary

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pp. 219-232

In this book I present the evolution of mammals during the Mesozoic era, along with information on people working on them. I offer also several new life reconstructions of non-mammalian mammaliaforms and early mammals. In the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, when early mammals were known mostly from isolated teeth ...


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pp. 233-248


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pp. 249-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780253008244
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253008176

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 7 color illus., 71 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Life of the Past