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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.
This lavishly illustrated volume is the first authoritative dinosaur book in the style of a field guide. World-renowned dinosaur illustrator and researcher Gregory Paul provides comprehensive visual and textual coverage of the great Mesozoic animals that gave rise to the living dinosaurs, the birds. Incorporating the new discoveries and research that are radically transforming what we know about dinosaurs, this book is distinguished both by its scientific accuracy and the quality and quantity of its illustrations. It presents thorough descriptions of more than 735 dinosaur species and features more than 600 color and black-and-white images, including unique skeletal drawings, "life" studies, and scenic views--illustrations that depict the full range of dinosaurs, from small, feathered creatures to whale-sized supersauropods.
Heavily illustrated species accounts of the major dinosaur groups are preceded by an extensive introduction that covers dinosaur history and biology, the extinction of nonavian dinosaurs, the origin of birds, and the history of dinosaur paleontology--and that also gives a taste of what it might be like to travel back to the time of the dinosaurs.
The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs is a must-have for anyone who loves dinosaurs, from the amateur enthusiast to the professional paleontologist.
Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
For 150 million years, the skies didn't belong to birds--they belonged to the pterosaurs. These flying reptiles, which include the pterodactyls, shared the world with the nonavian dinosaurs until their extinction 65 million years ago. Some pterosaurs, such as the giant azhdarchids, were the largest flying animals of all time, with wingspans exceeding thirty feet and standing heights comparable to modern giraffes. This richly illustrated book takes an unprecedented look at these astonishing creatures, presenting the latest findings on their anatomy, ecology, and extinction.
Pterosaurs features some 200 stunning illustrations, including original paintings by Mark Witton and photos of rarely seen fossils. After decades of mystery, paleontologists have finally begun to understand how pterosaurs are related to other reptiles, how they functioned as living animals, and, despite dwarfing all other flying animals, how they managed to become airborne. Here you can explore the fossil evidence of pterosaur behavior and ecology, learn about the skeletal and soft-tissue anatomy of pterosaurs, and consider the newest theories about their cryptic origins. This one-of-a-kind book covers the discovery history, paleobiogeography, anatomy, and behaviors of more than 130 species of pterosaur, and also discusses their demise at the end of the Mesozoic.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
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.
225 Million Years of Evolution
A small set of fossilized bones discovered almost thirty years ago led paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee on a lifelong quest to understand their place in our understanding of the history of life. They were clearly the bones of something unusual, a bird-like creature that lived long, long ago in the age of dinosaurs. He called it Protoavis, and the animal that owned these bones quickly became a contender for the title of “oldest known bird.” In 1997, Chatterjee published his findings in the first edition of The Rise of Birds. Since then Chatterjee and his colleagues have searched the world for more transitional bird fossils. And they have found them. This second edition of The Rise of Birds brings together a treasure trove of fossils that tell us far more about the evolution of birds than we once dreamed possible. With no blind allegiance to what he once thought he knew, Chatterjee devours the new evidence and lays out the most compelling version of the birth and evolution of the avian form ever attempted. He takes us from Texas to Spain, China, Mongolia, Madagascar, Australia, Antarctica, and Argentina. He shows how, in the “Cretaceous Pompeii” of China, he was able to reconstruct the origin and evolution of flight of early birds from the feathered dinosaurs that lay among thousands of other amazing fossils. Chatterjee takes us to where long-hidden bird fossils dwell. His compelling, occasionally controversial, revelations—accompanied by spectacular illustrations—are a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the evolution of “the feathered dinosaurs,” from vertebrate paleontologists and ornithologists to naturalists and birders.
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.
Evolution and Paleobiology
Sauropod dinosaurs were the largest animals ever to walk the earth, and they represent a substantial portion of vertebrate biomass and biodiversity during the Mesozoic Era. The story of sauropod evolution is told in an extensive fossil record of skeletons and footprints that span the globe and 150 million years of earth history. This generously illustrated volume is the first comprehensive scientific summary of sauropod evolution and paleobiology. The contributors explore sauropod anatomy, detail its variations, and question the myth that life at large size led to evolutionary stagnation and eventual replacement by more "advanced" herbivorous dinosaurs. Chapters address topics such as the evolutionary history and diversity of sauropods; methods for creating three-dimensional reconstructions of their skeletons; questions of sauropod herbivory, tracks, gigantism, locomotion, reproduction, growth rates, and more. This book, together with the recent surge in sauropod discoveries around the world and taxonomic revisions of fragmentary genera, will shed new light on "nature's greatest extravagances."
Life in the Ordovician Sea of the Cincinnati Region
The region around Cincinnati, Ohio, is known throughout the world for the abundant and beautiful fossils found in limestones and shales that were deposited as sediments on the sea floor during the Ordovician Period, about 450 million years ago—some 250 million years before the dinosaurs lived. In Ordovician time, the shallow sea that covered much of what is now the North American continent teemed with marine life. The Cincinnati area has yielded some of the world's most abundant and best-preserved fossils of invertebrate animals such as trilobites, bryozoans, brachiopods, molluscs, echinoderms, and graptolites. So famous are the Ordovician fossils and rocks of the Cincinnati region that geologists use the term "Cincinnatian" for strata of the same age all over North America. This book synthesizes more than 150 years of research on this fossil treasure-trove, describing and illustrating the fossils, the life habits of the animals represented, their communities, and living relatives, as well as the nature of the rock strata in which they are found and the environmental conditions of the ancient sea.
Sixty-five million years ago, a comet or asteroid larger than Mt. Everest slammed into the Earth, causing an explosion equivalent to the detonation of a hundred million hydrogen bombs. Vaporized impactor and debris from the impact site were blasted out through the atmosphere, falling back to Earth all around the globe. Terrible environmental disasters ensued, including a giant tsunami, continent-scale wildfires, darkness, and cold, followed by sweltering greenhouse heat. When conditions returned to normal, half the genera of plants and animals on Earth had perished.
This horrific story is now widely accepted as the solution to a great scientific murder mystery what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? In T. rex and the Crater of Doom, the story of the scientific detective work that went into solving the mystery is told by geologist Walter Alvarez, one of the four Berkeley scientists who discovered the first evidence for the giant impact. It is a saga of high adventure in remote parts of the world, of patient data collection, of lonely intellectual struggle, of long periods of frustration ended by sudden breakthroughs, of intense public debate, of friendships made or lost, of the exhilaration of discovery, and of delight as a fascinating story unfolded.
Controversial and widely attacked during the 1980s, the impact theory received confirmation from the discovery of the giant impact crater it predicted, buried deep beneath younger strata at the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Chicxulub Crater was found by Mexican geologists in 1950 but remained almost unknown to scientists elsewhere until 1991, when it was recognized as the largest impact crater on this planet, dating precisely from the time of the great extinction sixty-five million years ago. Geology and paleontology, sciences that long held that all changes in Earth history have been calm and gradual, have now been forced to recognize the critical role played by rare but devastating catastrophes like the impact that killed the dinosaurs.
At the end of the time of the dinosaurs, Transylvania was an island in what was to become southeastern Europe, formed by the forces of plate tectonics. The island's limited resources affected the size and life histories of the animals, resulting in a local dwarfism. For example, sauropods found on the island measured only six meters long, while their cousins elsewhere grew up to five times larger. Here, David B. Weishampel and Coralia-Maria Jianu present unique evolutionary interpretations of this phenomenon. The authors bring together the latest information on the fauna, flora, geology, and paleogeography of the region, casting these ancient reptiles in their phylogenetic, paleoecological, and evolutionary contexts. What the authors find is that Transylvanian dinosaurs experienced a range of unpredictable successes as they evolved. Woven throughout the detailed history and science of these diminutive dinosaurs is the fascinating story of the man who first discovered them, the mysterious twentieth-century paleontologist, Franz Baron Nopcsa. Hailed by some as the father of paleobiology, it was Nopcsa alone that understood the importance of the dinosaur discoveries in Transylvania. Nopcsa’s name is synonymous with Transylvanian dinosaurs; their story cannot be told without recounting his. Transylvanian Dinosaurs strikes an engaging balance between biography and scientific treatise and is sure to capture the imagination of professional paleontologists and amateur dinophiles alike.