Indiana University Press

Life of the Past

Published by: Indiana University Press


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Life of the Past

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In Pursuit of Early Mammals

Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska

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.

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Islands in the Cosmos

The Evolution of Life on Land

Foreword by Simon Conway Morris. Dale A. Russell

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.

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Life Traces of the Georgia Coast

Revealing the Unseen Lives of Plants and Animals

Anthony J. Martin

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.

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Giant Beasts of Pleistocene South America

Richard A. Fariña, Sergio F. Vizcaíno, and Gerry De Iuliis

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.

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New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs

The Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium

Michael J. Ryan

Easily distinguished by the horns and frills on their skulls, ceratopsians were one of the most successful of all dinosaurs. This volume presents a broad range of cutting-edge research on the functional biology, behavior, systematics, paleoecology, and paleogeography of the horned dinosaurs, and includes descriptions of newly identified species.

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Oceans of Kansas, Second Edition

A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea

Michael J. Everhart

Revised, updated, and expanded with the latest interpretations and fossil discoveries, the second edition of Oceans of Kansas adds new twists to the fascinating story of the vast inland sea that engulfed central North America during the Age of Dinosaurs. Giant sharks, marine reptiles called mosasaurs, pteranodons, and birds with teeth all flourished in and around these shallow waters. Their abundant and well-preserved remains were sources of great excitement in the scientific community when first discovered in the 1860s and continue to yield exciting discoveries 150 years later. Michael J. Everhart vividly captures the history of these startling finds over the decades and re-creates in unforgettable detail these animals from our distant past and the world in which they lived—above, within, and on the shores of America’s ancient inland sea.

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Patrons of Paleontology

How Government Support Shaped a Science

Jane P. Davidson

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, North American and European governments generously funded the discoveries of such famous paleontologists and geologists as Henry de la Beche, William Buckland, Richard Owen, Thomas Hawkins, Edward Drinker Cope, O. C. Marsh, and Charles W. Gilmore. In Patrons of Paleontology, Jane Davidson explores the motivation behind this rush to fund exploration, arguing that eagerness to discover strategic resources like coal deposits was further fueled by patrons who had a genuine passion for paleontology and the fascinating creatures that were being unearthed. These early decades of government support shaped the way the discipline grew, creating practices and enabling discoveries that continue to affect paleontology today.

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Plants in Mesozoic Time

Morphological Innovations, Phylogeny, Ecosystems

Edited by Carole T. Gee

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.

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Rhinoceros Giants

The Paleobiology of Indricotheres

Donald R. Prothero

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.

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Mauricio Antón

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.

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