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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > Paleontology
Radiation • Histology • Biology
About 320 million years ago a group of reptiles known as the synapsids emerged and forever changed Earth's ecological landscapes. This book discusses the origin and radiation of the synapsids from their sail-backed pelycosaur ancestor to their diverse descendants, the therapsids or mammal-like reptiles, that eventually gave rise to mammals. It further showcases the remarkable evolutionary history of the synapsids in the Karoo Basin of South Africa and the environments that existed at the time. By highlighting studies of synapsid bone microstructure, it offers a unique perspective of how such studies are utilized to reconstruct various aspects of biology, such as growth dynamics, biomechanical function, and the attainment of sexual and skeletal maturity. A series of chapters outline the radiation and phylogenetic relationships of major synapsid lineages and provide direct insight into how bone histological analyses have led to an appreciation of these enigmatic animals as once-living creatures. The penultimate chapter examines the early radiation of mammals from their nonmammalian cynodont ancestors, and the book concludes by engaging the intriguing question of when and where endothermy evolved among the therapsids.
István Fozy and István Szente provide a comprehensive review of the fossil record of the Carpathian Basin. Fossils of the Carpathian Region describes and illustrates the region’s fossils, recounts their history, and tells the stories of key people involved in paleontological research in the area. In addition to covering all the important fossils of this region, special attention is given to rare finds and complete skeletons. The region’s fossils range from tiny foraminifera to the Transylvanian dinosaurs, mastodons, and mammals. The book also gives nonspecialists the opportunity to gain a basic understanding of paleontology. Sidebars present brief biographies of important figures and explain how to collect, prepare, and interpret fossils.
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.
Hadrosaurs--also known as duck-billed dinosaurs--are abundant in the fossil record. With their unique complex jaws and teeth perfectly suited to shred and chew plants, they flourished on Earth in remarkable diversity during the Late Cretaceous. So ubiquitous are their remains that we have learned more about dinosaurian paleobiology and paleoecology from hadrosaurs than we have from any other group. In recent years, hadrosaurs have been in the spotlight. Researchers around the world have been studying new specimens and new taxa seeking to expand and clarify our knowledge of these marvelous beasts. This volume presents the results of an international symposium on hadrosaurs, sponsored by the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, where scientists and students gathered to share their research and their passion for duck-billed dinosaurs. A uniquely comprehensive treatment of hadrosaurs, the book encompasses not only the well-known hadrosaurids proper, but also Hadrosaouroidea, allowing the former group to be evaluated in a broader perspective. The 36 chapters are divided into six sections--an overview, new insights into hadrosaur origins, hadrosaurid anatomy and variation, biogeography and biostratigraphy, function and growth, and preservation, tracks, and traces--followed by an afterword by Jack Horner.
The Fascinating Fossil Mammals of South America
South America is home to some of the most distinctive mammals on Earth—giant armadillos, tiny anteaters, the world’s largest rodent, and its smallest deer. But the continent once supported a variety of other equally intriguing mammals that have no close living relatives: armored mammals with tail clubs, saber-toothed marsupials, and even a swimming sloth. We know of the existence of these peculiar species thanks to South America’s rich fossil record, which provides many glimpses of prehistoric mammals and the ecosystems in which they lived. Organized as a "walk through time" and featuring species from 15 important fossil sites, this book is the most extensive and richly illustrated volume devoted exclusively to the Cenozoic mammals of South America. The text is supported by 75 life reconstructions of extinct species in their native habitats, as well as photographs of fossil specimens and the sites highlighted in the book. An annotated bibliography is included for those interested in delving into the scientific literature.
More than three hundred million years ago—a relatively recent date in the two billion years since life first appeared—vertebrate animals first ventured onto land. This usefully illustrated book describes how some finned vertebrates acquired limbs, giving rise to more than 25,000 extant tetrapod species. Michel Laurin uses paleontological, geological, physiological, and comparative anatomical data to describe this monumental event. He summarizes key concepts of modern paleontological research, including biological nomenclature, paleontological and molecular dating, and the methods used to infer phylogeny and character evolution. Along with a discussion of the evolutionary pressures that may have led vertebrates onto dry land, the book also shows how extant vertebrates yield clues about the conquest of land and how scientists uncover evolutionary history.
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.
The Evolution of Life on Land
How is it that we came to be here? The search for answers to that question has preoccupied humans for millennia. Scientists have sought clues in the genes of living things, in the physical environments of Earth from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean, in the chemistry of this world and those nearby, in the tiniest particles of matter, and in the deepest reaches of space. In Islands of the Cosmos, Dale A. Russell traces a path from the dawn of the universe to speculations about our future on this planet. He centers his story on the physical and biological processes in evolution, which interact to favor more successful, and eliminate less successful, forms of life. Marvelously, these processes reveal latent possibilities in life's basic structure, and propel a major evolutionary theme: the increasing proficiency of biological function. It remains to be seen whether the human form can survive the dynamic processes that brought it into existence. Yet the emergence of the ability to acquire knowledge from experience, to optimize behavior, to conceptualize, to distinguish "good" from "bad" behavior all hint at an evolutionary outcome that science is only beginning to understand.
The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton
Almost from the day of its accidental discovery along the banks of the Columbia River in Washington State in July 1996, the ancient skeleton of Kennewick Man has garnered significant attention from scientific and Native American communities as well as public media outlets. This volume represents a collaboration among physical and forensic anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists, and geochemists, among others, and presents the results of the scientific study of this remarkable find. Scholars address a range of topics, from basic aspects of osteological analysis to advanced ?research focused on Kennewick Man’s origins and his relationships to other populations. Interdisciplinary studies, comprehensive data collection and preservation, and applications of technology are all critical to telling Kennewick Man’s story.
Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton is written for a discerning professional audience, yet the absorbing story of the remains, their discovery, their curation history, and the extensive amount of detail that skilled scientists have been able to glean from them will appeal to interested and informed general readers. These bones lay silent for nearly nine thousand years, but now, with the aid of dedicated researchers, they can speak about the life of one of the earliest human occupants of North America.