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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 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.
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.
The Beginnings of Biological Evolution
Always a controversial and compelling topic, the origin of life on Earth was considered taboo as an area of inquiry for science as recently as the 1950s. Since then, however, scientists working in this area have made remarkable progress, and an overall picture of how life emerged is coming more clearly into focus. We now know, for example, that the story of life's origin begins not on Earth, but in the interiors of distant stars. This book brings a summary of current research and ideas on life's origin to a wide audience. The contributors, all of whom received the Oparin/Urey Gold Medal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, are luminaries in the fields of chemistry, paleobiology, and astrobiology, and in these chapters they discuss their life's work: understanding the what, when, and how of the early evolution of life on Earth. Presented in nontechnical language and including a useful glossary of scientific terms, Life's Origin gives a state-of-the-art encapsulation of the fascinating work now being done by scientists as they begin to characterize life as a natural outcome of the evolution of cosmic matter.
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.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium
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.
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