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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > Paleontology
A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure
With its temperate climate and variety of habitats, Michigan supports a diverse array of animals and plants, including fifty-four species of amphibians and reptiles. The dispersal and biology of the Michigan herpetofauna—amphibians and reptiles—is even more unique because Michigan consists of two peninsulas that project into large freshwater seas and also because it was completely covered by a massive ice sheet a relatively short time ago. In The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure, author J. Alan Holman explores the state’s amphibians and reptiles in detail and with many helpful illustrations, making this the only volume of its kind available. Holman uniquely bridges the gap between neo- and paleoherpetology and shows that Michigan’s modern herpetofaunas reflect Pleistocene (ice age) and Holocene (warm period after the ice age) events, as the entire modern population was forced to re-invade the state after the last withdrawal of ice. In Part 1, Holman discusses Michigan as an amphibian and reptile habitat, including a geological, climatic, and vegetational history. Part 2 presents recent species accounts, covering all fifty-four species of amphibians and reptiles, along with their general distribution, Michigan distribution (with range maps), geographic variation, habitat and habits, reproduction and growth, diet, predation and defense, interaction with humans, behavioral characteristics, population health, and general remarks. In Part 3, Holman examines the Michigan herpetofauna in Quaternary and recent historical times and the species accounts include Pleistocene, Holocene, and archaeological records. Color photographs of major herpetological habitats in Michigan are provided and color photographs of all modern species are included. Black-and-white illustrations depict both modern and ancient speicies. Herpetologists, paleontologists, zoologists, ecologists, and general biologists, as well as anyone who loves salamanders, frogs, turtles, and snakes will appreciate the comprehensive research presented in The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan.
Physical Anthropology and Geoarchaeology
The Arch Lake human burial site, discovered in 1967 in eastern New Mexico, contains the third-oldest known remains in North America. Since its original excavation and removal to Eastern New Mexico University’s Blackwater Draw Museum, the 10,000 radiocarbon-year-old burial has been known only locally. In February 2000 an interdisciplinary team led by Douglas W. Owsley reexamined the osteology, geology, archaeology, and radiocarbon dating of the burial. In this first volume in Peopling of the Americas Publications—released by Texas A&M University Press for the Center for the Study of the First Americans—Arch Lake Woman presents the results of this recent analysis of the skeleton and site. In addition to color and black-and-white illustrations, Arch Lake Woman includes extensive tables describing the team’s discoveries and comparing their results with those of other ancient burials.
The Late Cretaceous of Southern Utah
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is the location of one of the best-known terrestrial records for the late Cretaceous. A major effort in the new century has documented over 2,000 new vertebrate fossil sites, provided new radiometric dates, and identified five new genera of ceratopsids, two new species of hadrosaur, a probable new genus of hypsilophodontid, new pachycephalosaurs and ankylosaurs, several kinds of theropods (including a new genus of oviraptor and a new tyrannosaur), plus the most complete specimen of a Late Cretaceous therizinosaur ever collected from North America, and much more. At the Top of the Grand Staircase: The Late Cretaceous of Southern Utah documents this major stepping stone toward a synthesis of the ecology and evolution of the Late Cretaceous ecosystems of western North America.
An Unconventional Evolutionary History of the Skeleton
What can we learn about the evolution of jaws from a pair of scissors? How does the flight of a tennis ball help explain how fish overcome drag? What do a spacesuit and a chicken egg have in common? Highlighting the fascinating twists and turns of evolution across more than 540 million years, paleobiologist Matthew Bonnan uses everyday objects to explain the emergence and adaptation of the vertebrate skeleton. What can camera lenses tell us about the eyes of marine reptiles? How does understanding what prevents a coffee mug from spilling help us understand the posture of dinosaurs? The answers to these and other intriguing questions illustrate how scientists have pieced together the history of vertebrates from their bare bones. With its engaging and informative text, plus more than 200 illustrative diagrams created by the author, The Bare Bones is an unconventional and reader-friendly introduction to the skeleton as an evolving machine.
In 1878, the first complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium. Iguanodon, first described by Gideon Mantell on the basis of fragments discovered in England in 1824, was initially reconstructed as an iguana-like reptile or a heavily built, horned quadruped. However, the Bernissart skeleton changed all that. The animal was displayed in an upright posture similar to a kangaroo, and later with its tail off the ground like the dinosaur we know of today. Focusing on the Bernissant discoveries, this book presents the latest research on Iguanodon and other denizens of the Cretaceous ecosystems of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Pascal Godefroit and contributors consider the Bernissart locality itself and the new research programs that are underway there. The book also presents a systematic revision of Iguanodon; new material from Spain, Romania, China, and Kazakhstan; studies of other Early Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems; and examinations of Cretaceous vertebrate faunas.
Understanding the Life of Giants
Sauropods, those huge plant-eating dinosaurs, possessed bodies that seem to defy every natural law. What were these creatures like as living animals and how could they reach such uniquely gigantic sizes? A dedicated group of researchers in Germany in disciplines ranging from engineering and materials science to animal nutrition and paleontology went in search of the answers to these questions. Biology of the Sauropod Dinosaurs reports on the latest results from this seemingly disparate group of research fields and integrates them into a coherent theory regarding sauropod gigantism. Covering nutrition, physiology, growth, and skeletal structure and body plans, this volume presents the most up-to-date knowledge about the biology of these enormous dinosaurs.
Chinese Avian Fossils from the Age of Dinosaurs
When fossils of birds from China’s Jehol region first appeared in scientific circles, the world took notice. These Mesozoic masterpieces are between 120 and 131 million years old and reveal incredible details that capture the diversity of ancient bird life. Paleontologists all over the world began to collaborate with Chinese colleagues as new and wondrous fossil-related discoveries became regular events. The pages of National Geographic and major scientific journals described the intricate views of feathers as well as food still visible in the guts of these ancient birds. Now, for the first time, a sweeping collection of the most interesting of Jehol’s avian fossils is on display in this beautiful book.
Birds of Stone makes visible the unexpected avian diversity that blanketed the earth just a short time (geologically speaking) after a dinosaur lineage gave rise to the first birds. Our visual journey through these fossils is guided by Luis M. Chiappe, a world expert on early birds, and Meng Qingjin, a leading figure in China's natural history museum community. Together, they help us understand the "meaning" of each fossil by providing straightforward narratives that accompany the full-page photographs of the Jehol discoveries.
Anyone interested in the history of life—from paleontologists to inquisitive birders—will find Birds of Stone an irresistible feast for the eyes and mind.
Advancing Methods, Analysis, and Interpretation
The microscopic examination of fossilized bone tissue is a sophisticated and increasingly important analytical tool for understanding the life history of ancient organisms. This book provides an essential primer and manual for using fossil bone histology to investigate the biology of extinct tetrapods. Twelve experts summarize advances in the field over the past three decades, reviewing fundamental basics of bone microanatomy and physiology. Research specimen selection, thin-section preparation, and data analysis are addressed in detail. The authors also outline methods and issues in bone growth rate calculation and chronological age determination, as well as how to examine broader questions of behavior, ecology, and evolution by studying the microstructure of bone.
Ancient Sea Life of North America
This volume, aimed at the general reader, presents life and times of the amazing animals that inhabited Earth more than 500 million years ago. The Cambrian Period was a critical time in Earth’s history. During this immense span of time nearly every modern group of animals appeared. Although life had been around for more than 2 million millennia, Cambrian rocks preserve the record of the first appearance of complex animals with eyes, protective skeletons, antennae, and complex ecologies. Grazing, predation, and multi-tiered ecosystems with animals living in, on, or above the sea floor became common. The cascade of interaction led to an ever-increasing diversification of animal body types. By the end of the period, the ancestors of sponges, corals, jellyfish, worms, mollusks, brachiopods, arthropods, echinoderms, and vertebrates were all in place. The evidence of this Cambrian "explosion" is preserved in rocks all over the world, including North America, where the seemingly strange animals of the period are preserved in exquisite detail in deposits such as the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. Cambrian Ocean World tells the story of what is, for us, the most important period in our planet’s long history.
Investigation of a Stratified Workshop at the Gault Site, Texas
Some 13,000 years ago, humans were drawn repeatedly to a small valley in what is now Central Texas, near the banks of Buttermilk Creek. These early hunter-gatherers camped, collected stone, and shaped it into a variety of tools they needed to hunt game, process food, and subsist in the Texas wilderness. Their toolkit included bifaces, blades, and deadly spear points. Where they worked, they left thousands of pieces of debris, which have allowed archaeologists to reconstruct their methods of tool production. Along with the faunal material that was also discarded in their prehistoric campsite, these stone, or lithic, artifacts afford a glimpse of human life at the end of the last ice age during an era referred to as Clovis. The area where these people roamed and camped, called the Gault site, is one of the most important Clovis sites in North America. A decade ago a team from Texas A&M University excavated a single area of the site—formally named Excavation Area 8, but informally dubbed the Lindsey Pit—which features the densest concentration of Clovis artifacts and the clearest stratigraphy at the Gault site. Some 67,000 lithic artifacts were recovered during fieldwork, along with 5,700 pieces of faunal material. In a thorough synthesis of the evidence from this prehistoric “workshop,” Michael R. Waters and his coauthors provide the technical data needed to interpret and compare this site with other sites from the same period, illuminating the story of Clovis people in the Buttermilk Creek Valley.