Indiana University Press

Life of the Past

Published by: Indiana University Press

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Life of the Past

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A Sea without Fish

Life in the Ordovician Sea of the Cincinnati Region

With a chapter by Steven M. Holland. David L. Meyer and Richard Arnold Davis

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.

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Turtles as Hopeful Monsters

Origins and Evolution

Olivier Rieppel

Where do turtles hail from? Why and how did they acquire shells? These questions have spurred heated debate and intense research for more than two hundred years. Brilliantly weaving evidence from the latest paleontological discoveries with an accessible, incisive look at different theories of biological evolution and their proponents, Turtles as Hopeful Monsters tells the fascinating evolutionary story of the shelled reptiles. Paleontologist Olivier Rieppel traces the evolution of turtles from over 220 million years ago, examining closely the relationship of turtles to other reptiles and charting the development of the shell. Turtle issues fuel a debate between proponents of gradual evolutionary change and authors favoring change through bursts and leaps of macromutation. The first book-length popular history of its type, this indispensable resource is an engaging read for all those fascinated by this ubiquitous and uniquely shaped reptile.

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Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology

Edited by J. Michael Parrish, Ralph E. Molnar, Philip J. Currie, and Eva B. Koppelhus

The opening of an exhibit focused on "Jane," a beautifully preserved tyrannosaur collected by the Burpee Museum of Natural History, was the occasion for an international symposium on tyrannosaur paleobiology. This volume, drawn from the symposium, includes studies of the tyrannosaurids Chingkankousaurus fragilis and "Sir William" and the generic status of Nanotyrannus; theropod teeth, pedal proportions, brain size, and craniocervical function; soft tissue reconstruction, including that of "Jane"; paleopathology and tyrannosaurid claws; dating the "Jane" site; and tyrannosaur feeding and hunting strategies. Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology highlights the far ranging and vital state of current tyrannosaurid dinosaur research and discovery.

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Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology

The Fossil Record of the Northern Neotropics

Edited by Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra, Orangel A. Aguilera, and Alfredo A. Carlini

Urumaco and Venezuelan Paleontology offers a synthesis of the paleontological record of Venezuela, including new discoveries on stratigraphy, paleobotany, fossil invertebrates, and vertebrates. Besides providing a critical summary of the record of decapods, fishes, crocodiles, turtles, rodents, armadillos, and ungulates, several chapters introduce new information on the distribution and paleobiology of groups not previously studied in this part of the world. Given its position in the northern neotropics, close to the Panamanian land bridge, Venezuela is a key location for understanding faunal exchanges between the Americas in the recent geological past. The book reviews the recent paleobotanical and vertebrate fossil record of the region, provides an understanding of Pleistocene climatic change and biogeography for the last few thousand years, and integrates new information with summaries of Spanish language works on Venezuelan geology and paleontology.

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The White River Badlands

Geology and Paleontology

Rachel C. Benton, Dennis O. Terry Jr., Emmett Evanoff, and H. Gregory McDonald

The forbidding Big Badlands in Western South Dakota contain the richest fossil beds in the world. Even today these rocks continue to yield new specimens brought to light by snowmelt and rain washing away soft rock deposited on a floodplain long ago. The quality and quantity of the fossils are superb: most of the species to be found there are known from hundreds of specimens. The fossils in the White River Group (and similar deposits in the American west) preserve the entire late Eocene through the middle Oligocene, roughly 35-30 million years ago and more than 30 million years after non-avian dinosaurs became extinct. The fossils provide a detailed record of a period of abrupt global cooling and what happened to creatures who lived through it. The book provides a comprehensive reference to the sediments and fossils of the Big Badlands and will complement, enhance, and in some ways replace the classic 1920 volume by Cleophas C. O'Harra. Because the book focuses on a national treasure, it touches on National Park Service management policies that help protect such significant fossils.

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