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The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods
Around 370 million years ago, a distant relative of a modern lungfish began a most extraordinary adventure—emerging from the water and laying claim to the land. Over the next 70 million years, this tentative beachhead had developed into a worldwide colonization by ever-increasing varieties of four-limbed creatures known as tetrapods, the ancestors of all vertebrate life on land. This new edition of Jennifer A. Clack's groundbreaking book tells the complex story of their emergence and evolution. Beginning with their closest relatives, the lobe-fin fishes such as lungfishes and coelacanths, Clack defines what a tetrapod is, describes their anatomy, and explains how they are related to other vertebrates. She looks at the Devonian environment in which they evolved, describes the known and newly discovered species, and explores the order and timing of anatomical changes that occurred during the fish-to-tetrapod transition.
The Search for the Conodont Animal
Stephen Jay Gould borrowed from Winston Churchill when he described the conodont animal as a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." This animal confounded science for more than a century. Some thought it a slug, others a fish, a worm, a plant, even a primitive ancestor of ourselves. The list of possibilities grew and yet an answer to the riddle never seemed any nearer. Would the animal that left behind these miniscule fossils known as conodonts ever be identified? Three times the animal was "found," but each was quite a different animal. Were any of them really the one? Simon J. Knell takes the reader on a journey through 150 years of scientific thinking, imagining, and arguing. Slowly the animal begins to reveal traces of itself: its lifestyle, its remarkable evolution, its witnessing of great catastrophes, its movements over the surface of the planet, and finally its anatomy. Today the conodont animal remains perhaps the most disputed creature in the zoological world.
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.
Revealing the Unseen Lives of Plants and Animals
Have you ever wondered what left behind those prints and tracks on the seashore, or what made those marks or dug those holes in the dunes? Life Traces of the Georgia Coast is an up-close look at these traces of life and the animals and plants that made them. It tells about the how the tracemakers lived and how they interacted with their environments. This is a book about ichnology (the study of such traces), a wonderful way to learn about the behavior of organisms, living and long extinct. Life Traces presents an overview of the traces left by modern animals and plants in this biologically rich region; shows how life traces relate to the environments, natural history, and behaviors of their tracemakers; and applies that knowledge toward a better understanding of the fossilized traces that ancient life left in the geologic record. Augmented by numerous illustrations of traces made by both ancient and modern organisms, the book shows how ancient trace fossils directly relate to modern traces and tracemakers, among them, insects, grasses, crabs, shorebirds, alligators, and sea turtles. The result is an aesthetically appealing and scientifically accurate book that will serve as both a source book for scientists and for anyone interested in the natural history of the Georgia coast.
Origin, Evolution, and Diversity
In this unique book, Peter S. Ungar tells the story of mammalian teeth from their origin through their evolution to their current diversity. Mammal Teeth traces the evolutionary history of teeth, beginning with the very first mineralized vertebrate structures half a billion years ago. Ungar describes how the simple conical tooth of early vertebrates became the molars, incisors, and other forms we see in mammals today. Evolutionary adaptations changed pointy teeth into flatter ones, with specialized shapes designed to complement the corresponding jaw. Ungar explains tooth structure and function in the context of nutritional needs. The myriad tooth shapes produced by evolution offer different solutions to the fundamental problem of how to squeeze as many nutrients as possible out of foods. The book also highlights Ungar's own path-breaking studies that show how microwear analysis can help us understand ancient diets. The final part of the book provides an in-depth examination of mammalian teeth today, surveying all orders in the class, family by family. Ungar describes some of the more bizarre teeth, such as tusks, and the mammal diversity that accompanies these morphological wonders. Mammal Teeth captures the evolution of mammals, including humans, through the prism of dental change. Synthesizing decades of research, Ungar reveals the interconnections among mammal diet, dentition, and evolution. His book is a must-read for paleontologists, mammalogists, and anthropologists.
Giant Beasts of Pleistocene South America
More than 10,000 years ago spectacularly large mammals roamed the pampas and jungles of South America. This book tells the story of these great beasts during and just after the Pleistocene, the geological epoch marked by the great ice ages. Megafauna describes the history and way of life of these animals, their comings and goings, and what befell them at the beginning of the modern era and the arrival of humans. It places these giants within the context of the other mammals then alive, describing their paleobiology -- how they walked; how much they weighed; their diets, behavior, biomechanics; and the interactions among them and with their environment. It also tells the stories of the scientists who contributed to our discovery and knowledge of these transcendent creatures and the environment they inhabited. The episode known as the Great American Biotic Interchange, perhaps the most important of all natural history "experiments," is also an important theme of the book, tracing the biotic events of both North and South America that led to the fauna and the ecosystems discussed in this book.
Studies in Paleoethnobotany
People, Plants, and Landscapes showcases the potential of modern paleoethnobotany, an interdisciplinary field that explores the interactions between human beings and plants by examining archaeological evidence. Using different methods and theoretical approaches, the essays in this work apply botanical knowledge to studies of archaeological plant remains and apply paleoethnobotany to nonarchaeological sources of evidence. The resulting techniques often lie beyond the traditional boundaries of either archaeology or botany.
With this ground-breaking work, the technically and methodologically enhanced paleoethnobotany of the 1990s has joined forces with ecological and evolutionary theory to forge explanations of changing relationships between human and plant populations.
Contents and Contributors:
The Shaping of Modern Paleoethnobotany, Patty Jo Watson
New Perspectives on the Paleoethnobotany of the Newt Kash Shelter, Kristen J. Gremillion
A 3,000-Year-Old Cache of Crop Seeds from Marble Bluff, Arkansas, Gayle J. Fritz
Evolutionary Changes Associated with the Domestication of Cucurbita pepo: Evidence from Eastern Kentucky, C. Wesley Cowan
Anthropogenesis in Prehistoric Northeastern Japan, Gary W. Crawford
Between Farmstead and Center: The Natural and Social Landscape of Moundville, C. Margaret Scarry and Vincas P. Steponaitis
An Evolutionary Ecology Perspective on Diet Choice, Risk, and Plant Domestication, Bruce Winterhalder and Carol Goland
The Ecological Structure and Behavioral Implications of Mast Exploitation Strategies, Paul S. Gardner
Changing Strategies of Indian Field Location in the Early Historic Southeast, Gregory A. Waselkov
Interregional Patterns of Land Use and Plant Management in Native North America, Julia E. Hammett
Morphological Innovations, Phylogeny, Ecosystems
Plants in Mesozoic Time showcases the latest research of broad botanical and paleontological interest from the world's experts on Mesozoic plant life. Each chapter covers a special aspect of a particular plant group -- ranging from horsetails to ginkgophytes, from cycads to conifers -- and relates it to key innovations in structure, phylogenetic relationships, the Mesozoic flora, or to animals such as plant-eating dinosaurs. The book's geographic scope ranges from Antarctica and Argentina to the western interior of North America, with studies on the reconstruction of the Late Jurassic vegetation of the Morrison Formation and on fossil angiosperm lianas from Late Cretaceous deposits in Utah and New Mexico. The volume also includes cutting-edge studies on the evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo") of Mesozoic forests, the phylogenetic analysis of the still enigmatic bennettitaleans, and the genetic developmental controls of the oldest flowers in the fossil record.
The Paleobiology of Indricotheres
Written for everyone fascinated by the huge beasts that once roamed the earth, this book introduces the giant hornless rhinoceros, Indricotherium. These massive animals inhabited Asia and Eurasia for more than 14 million years, about 37 to 23 million years ago. They had skulls 6 feet long, stood 22 feet high at the shoulder, and were twice as heavy as the largest elephant ever recorded, tipping the scales at 44,100 pounds. Fortunately, the big brutes were vegetarians. Donald R. Prothero tells their story, from their discovery just a century ago to the latest research on how they lived and died.
With their spectacularly enlarged canines, sabertooth cats are among the most popular of prehistoric animals, yet it is surprising how little information about them is available for the curious layperson. What’s more, there were other sabertooths that were not cats, animals with exotic names like nimravids, barbourofelids, and thylacosmilids. Some were no taller than a domestic cat, others were larger than a lion, and some were as weird as their names suggest. Sabertooths continue to pose questions even for specialists. What did they look like? How did they use their spectacular canine teeth? And why did they finally go extinct? In this visual and intellectual treat of a book, Mauricio Antón tells their story in words and pictures, all scrupulously based on the latest scientific research. The book is a glorious wedding of science and art that celebrates the remarkable diversity of the life of the not-so-distant past.