The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe.
Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species.
The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution—the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.
Our understanding of vertebrate origins and the backbone of human history evolves with each new fossil find and DNA map. Many species have now had their genomes sequenced, and molecular techniques allow genetic inspection of even non-model organisms. But as longtime Nature editor Henry Gee argues in Across the Bridge, despite these giant strides and our deepening understanding of how vertebrates fit into the tree of life, the morphological chasm between vertebrates and invertebrates remains vast and enigmatic.
As Gee shows, even as scientific advances have falsified a variety of theories linking these groups, the extant relatives of vertebrates are too few for effective genetic analysis. Moreover, the more we learn about the species that do remain—from sea-squirts to starfish—the clearer it becomes that they are too far evolved along their own courses to be of much use in reconstructing what the latest invertebrate ancestors of vertebrates looked like. Fossils present yet further problems of interpretation. Tracing both the fast-changing science that has helped illuminate the intricacies of vertebrate evolution as well as the limits of that science, Across the Bridge helps us to see how far the field has come in crossing the invertebrate-to-vertebrate divide—and how far we still have to go.
The fascinating story of how a harsh terrain that resembled modern Antarctica has been transformed gradually into the forests, grasslands, and wetlands we know today.
"One of the best scientific books published in the last ten years."—Ottowa Journal
"A valuable new synthesis of facts and ideas about climate, geography, and life during the past 20,000 years. More important, the book conveys an intimate appreciation of the rich variety of nature through time."—S. David Webb,Science
During the last Ice Age, a thousand-mile-wide land bridge connected Siberia and Alaska, creating the region known as Beringia. Over twelve thousand years ago, a procession of large mammals and the humans who hunted them crossed this bridge to America. Much of the Russian evidence for this migration has until now remained largely inaccessible to American scholars. American Beginnings brings together for the first time in one volume the most up-to-date archaeological and palaeoecological evidence on Beringia from both Russia and America.
"An invaluable resource. . . . It will no doubt remain the key reference book for Beringia for many years to come."—Steven Mithen, Journal of Human Evolution
"Extraordinary. The fifty-six contributors . . . represent the most prominent American and Russian researchers in the region."—Choice
"Publication of this well-illustrated compendium is a great service to early American and especially Siberian Upper Paleolithic archaeology."—Nicholas Saunders, New Scientist
"This is a great book . . . perhaps the greatest contribution to the archaeology of Beringia that has yet been published. . . . This is the kind of book to which archaeology should aspire."—Herbert D.G. Maschner, Antiquity
"The social construction of scientific knowledge, clearly one of the most exciting trends in the history of science in the 1890's, has made a solid stride forward with the publication of Archetypes and Ancestors. . . . Adrian Desmond set out to determine how much light might be shed on the mid-Victorian controversies over fossil reconstruction by an investigation of the ideological commitments and political programs of London paleontologists. The answer is: a great deal of light. The resulting book is thoroughly fascinating."—Philip Rehbock, American Historical Review
"A sophisticated study of the colonization of scientific territory—specifically of rival attempts to design the dinosaur—and of the constructive (not just obstructive) role of social pressures in the making of 'lasting contributions' to science. Not least it is a joy to read, perkily irreverent at times and full of nice vignettes and memorable turns of phrase."—Roy Porter, Times Higher Education Supplement
Now available in English for the first time, Basic Questions in Paleontology is a landmark work in twentieth-century evolution and paleontology. Originally published in German in 1950, Schindewolf's book was highly controversial for its thoroughgoing anti-Darwinism, but today his ideas are remarkably relevant to current research in evolutionary biology.
"[This book] would rank number one on my list of items awaiting translation from the history of twentieth-century evolutionary theory."—Stephen Jay Gould
In the spring and summer of 2000, geologists working for the Tennessee Department of Transportation made an extraordinary find as they examined soil at a routine road construction project: the digging at Gray, Tennessee, had uncovered a fossil site containing bones that would turn out to be at least five million years old. Harry Moore and his colleagues, along with researchers from the state and the University of Tennessee, were stunned as they unearthed the fossilized remains of tapirs, elephants, rhinoceroses, alligators, and other long-dead animals. What was at first thought to be an Ice Age site ten to twenty thousand years old proved to be much, much older.
The Bone Hunters recounts the fascinating details of a remarkable chance discovery. In his engaging firsthand account, Moore writes of the people behind the excavation of the site and how their efforts helped save valuable artifacts for ongoing study. Numerous photographs capture the excellent condition of fossils at Gray. Moore also describes the contours of what the ancient landscape may have looked like and details the governmental action that ultimately preserved this Tennessee treasure.
Harry Moore manages the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Geotechnial Engineering office in Knoxville. His previous books are A Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, A Geologic Trip Across Tennessee by Interstate 40, and Discovering October Roads: Fall Colors and Geology in Rural East Tennessee (co-written with Fred Brown).
Winner of the 2002 Spur Award for Best Western Nonfiction - Contemporary
Less than one hundred years ago, Diplodocus carnegii—named after industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie—was the most famous dinosaur on the planet. The most complete fossil skeleton unearthed to date, and one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered, Diplodocus was displayed in a dozen museums around the world and viewed by millions of people.
Bone Wars explains how a fossil unearthed in the badlands of Wyoming in 1899 helped give birth to the public’s fascination with prehistoric beasts. Rea also traces the evolution of scientific thought regarding dinosaurs, and reveals the double-crosses and behind-the-scenes deals that marked the early years of bone hunting.
With the help of letters found in scattered archives, Tom Rea recreates a remarkable story of hubris, hope, and turn-of-the-century science. He focuses on the roles of five men: Wyoming fossil hunter Bill Reed; paleontologists Jacob Wortman—in charge of the expedition that discovered Mr. Carnegie’s dinosaur—and John Bell Hatcher; William Holland, imperious director of the recently founded Carnegie Museum; and Carnegie himself, smitten with the colossal animals after reading a newspaper story in the New York Journal and Advertiser.
What emerges is the picture of an era reminiscent of today: technology advancing by leaps and bounds; the press happy to sensationalize anything that turned up; huge amounts of capital ending up in the hands of a small number of people; and some devoted individuals placing honest research above personal gain.
The vertebrate fossil record extends back more than 500 million years, and bonebeds—localized concentrations of the skeletal remains of vertebrate animals—help unlock the secrets of this long history. Often spectacularly preserved, bonebeds—both modern and ancient—can reveal more about life histories, ecological associations, and preservation patterns than any single skeleton or bone. For this reason, bonebeds are frequently studied by paleobiologists, geologists, and archeologists seeking to piece together the vertebrate record.
Thirteen respected researchers combine their experiences in Bonebeds, providing readers with workable definitions, theoretical frameworks, and a compendium of modern techniques in bonebed data collection and analysis. By addressing the historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of bonebed research, this edited volume—the first of its kind—provides the background and methods that students and professionals need to explore and understand these fantastic records of ancient life and death.
As explorers and scientists have known for decades, the Neotropics harbor a fantastic array of our planet’s mammalian diversity, from capybaras and capuchins to maned wolves and mouse opossums to sloths and sakis. This biological bounty can be attributed partly to the striking diversity of Neotropical landscapes and climates and partly to a series of continental connections that permitted intermittent faunal exchanges with Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and North America. Thus, to comprehend the development of modern Neotropical mammal faunas requires not only mastery of the Neotropics’ substantial diversity, but also knowledge of mammalian lineages and landscapes dating back to the Mesozoic.
Bones, Clones, and Biomes offers just that—an exploration of the development and relationships of the modern mammal fauna through a series of studies that encompass the last 100 million years and both Central and South America. This work serves as a complement to more taxonomically driven works, providing for readers the long geologic and biogeographic contexts that undergird the abundance and diversity of Neotropical mammals. Rather than documenting diversity or distribution, this collection traverses the patterns that the distributions and relationships across mammal species convey, bringing together for the first time geology, paleobiology, systematics, mammalogy, and biogeography. Of critical importance is the book’s utility for current conservation and management programs, part of a rapidly rising conservation paleobiology initiative.
On November 2, 2011, Richard Alley participated in The National Climate Seminar, a series of webinars sponsored by Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy. The online seminars provide a forum for leading scientists, writers, and other experts to talk about critical issues regarding climate change. The series also opens a public conversation, inviting participants to ask questions and contribute their own thoughts.
Dr. Alley conducts research on the paleoclimatic record at The Pennsylvania State University in order to understand the history, and perhaps the future, of climate change. In his lecture, Alley gave a concise overview of why we know what we know about climate change, and what that evidence can tell us about today’s warming planet. Alley not only provides an accessible science lesson, but reveals his own greatest concerns about climate change and offers advice to those who want to stop debating the subtleties of climate science and act now.
This E-ssential is an edited version of Alley’s talk and the subsequent question and answer session. While some material has been cut and some language modified for clarity, the intention was to retain the substance of the original discussion.
By studying evolution across geological time, paleontologists gain a perspective that sometimes complements and sometimes conflicts with views based solely on studies of extant species. The contributors to Causes of Evolution consider whether factors exerting major influences on evolution are biotic or abiotic, intrinsic or extrinsic.
Causes of Evolution presents a broad sampling of paleontological research programs encompassing vertebrates, invertebrates, and vascular plants; empirical work and theoretical models; organisms ranging in age from Cambrian to Recent; and temporal scales from ecological time to hundreds of millions of years. The diverse array of research styles and opinions presented will acquaint scientists in related fields with the strengths and weaknesses of paleontology as an approach to evolutionary studies and will give evolutionary biologists of every stripe new bases for evaluating the scope and bias of their own work.
In conservation, perhaps no better example exists of the past informing the present than the return of the California condor to the Vermilion Cliffs of Arizona. Extinct in the region for nearly one hundred years, condors were successfully reintroduced starting in the 1990s in an effort informed by the fossil record—condor skeletal remains had been found in the area’s late-Pleistocene cave deposits. The potential benefits of applying such data to conservation initiatives are unquestionably great, yet integrating the relevant disciplines has proven challenging. Conservation Paleobiology gathers a remarkable array of scientists—from Jeremy B. C. Jackson to Geerat J. Vermeij—to provide an authoritative overview of how paleobiology can inform both the management of threatened species and larger conservation decisions.
Studying endangered species is difficult. They are by definition rare, some exist only in captivity, and for those still in their native habitats any experimentation can potentially have a negative effect on survival. Moreover, a lack of long-term data makes it challenging to anticipate biotic responses to environmental conditions that are outside of our immediate experience. But in the fossil and prefossil records—from natural accumulations such as reefs, shell beds, and caves to human-made deposits like kitchen middens and archaeological sites—enlightening parallels to the Anthropocene can be found that might serve as a primer for present-day predicaments. Offering both deep-time and near-time perspectives and exploring a range of ecological and evolutionary dynamics and taxa from terrestrial as well as aquatic habitats, Conservation Paleobiology is a sterling demonstration of how the past can be used to manage for the future, giving new hope for the creation and implementation of successful conservation programs.
Early Hominin Paleoecology
Matt Sponhiemer, Julia A Lee-Thorp, Kaye E. Reed, Peter Ungar University Press of Colorado, 2013 Library of Congress GN282.E37 2013 | Dewey Decimal 569.9
An introduction to the multidisciplinary field of hominin paleoecology for advanced undergraduate students and beginning graduate students, Early Hominin Paleoecology offers an up-to-date review of the relevant literature, exploring new research and synthesizing old and new ideas.
Recent advances in the field and the laboratory are not only improving our understanding of human evolution but are also transforming it. Given the increasing specialization of the individual fields of study in hominin paleontology, communicating research results and data is difficult, especially to a broad audience of graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and the interested public. Early Hominin Paleoecology provides a good working knowledge of the subject while also presenting a solid grounding in the sundry ways this knowledge has been constructed. The book is divided into three sections—climate and environment (with a particular focus on the latter), adaptation and behavior, and modern analogs and models—and features contributors from various fields of study, including archaeology, primatology, paleoclimatology, sedimentology, and geochemistry.
Early Hominin Paleoecology is an accessible introduction into this fascinating and ever-evolving field and will be essential to any student interested in pursuing research in human paleoecology.
David J. Daegling
Fred E. Grine
Naomi E. Levin
Mark A. Maslin
Amy L. Rector
Lillian M. Spencer
Carol V. Ward
Katy E. Wilson
How were the tropical Americas formed? This ambitious volume draws on extensive, multidisciplinary research to develop new views of the geological formation of the isthmus linking North and South America and of the major environmental changes that reshaped the Neotropics to create its present-day marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
Recent discoveries show that dramatic changes in climate and ocean circulation can occur very quickly, and that ecological communities respond just as rapidly. Abrupt changes in the composition of fossil assemblages, formerly dismissed as artifacts of a poor fossil record, now are seen as accurate records of swift changes in the composition of ocean communities.
The twenty-four contributors use current work in paleontology, geology, oceanography, anthropology, ecology, and evolution to paint this challenging portrait of rapid environmental and evolutionary change. Their conclusions argue for a revision of existing interpretations of the fossil record and the processes—including invading Eurasian peoples—that have produced it.
Edited by David Jablonski, Douglas H. Erwin, and Jere H. Lipps University of Chicago Press, 1996 Library of Congress QE721.2.E85E96 1996 | Dewey Decimal 560
Representing the state of the art in evolutionary paleobiology, this book provides a much-needed overview of this rapidly changing field. An influx of ideas and techniques both from other areas of biology and from within paleobiology itself have resulted in numerous recent advances, including increased recognition of the relationships between ecological and evolutionary theory, renewed vigor in the study of ecological communities over geologic timescales, increased understanding of biogeographical patterns, and new mathematical approaches to studying the form and structure of plants and animals.
Contributors to this volume—a veritable who's who of eminent researchers—present the results of original research and new theoretical developments, and provide directions for future studies. Individually wide ranging, these papers all share a debt to the work of James W. Valentine, one of the founders of modern evolutionary paleobiology. This volume's unified approach to the study of life on earth will be a major contribution to paleobiology, evolution, and ecology.
The confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, now in Canyonlands National Park, near popular tourist destination Moab, still cannot be reached or viewed easily. Much of the surrounding region remained remote and rarely visited for decades after settlement of other parts of the West. The first U.S. government expedition to explore the canyon country and the Four Corners area was led by John Macomb of the army's topographical engineers.
The soldiers and scientists followed in part the Old Spanish Trail, whose location they documented and verified. Seeking to find the confluence of the Colorado and the Green and looking for alternative routes into Utah, which was of particular interest in the wake of the Utah War, they produced a substantial documentary record, most of which is published for the first time in this volume. Theirs is also the first detailed map of the region, and it is published in Exploring Desert Stone, as well.
Sprinkled across the tropical Pacific, the innumerable islands of Oceania are home to some of the most unique bird communities on the planet, and they sustain species found nowhere else on earth. Many of the birds that live in this region are endangered, however; many more have become extinct as a result of human activity, in both recent and prehistoric times.
Reconstructing the avian world in the same way archeologists re-create ancient human societies, David Steadman—a leading authority on tropical Pacific avian paleontology—has spent the past two decades in the field, digging through layers of soil in search of the bones that serve as clues to the ancient past of island bird communities. His years of indefatigable research and analysis are the foundation for Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds, a monumental study of the landbirds of tropical Pacific islands—especially those from Fiji eastward to Easter Island—and an intricate history of the patterns and processes of island biology over time.
Using information gleaned from prehistoric specimens, Steadman reconstructs the birdlife of tropical Pacific islands as it existed before the arrival of humans and in so doing corrects the assumption that small, remote islands were unable to support rich assemblages of plants and animals. Easter Island, for example, though devoid of wildlife today, was the world’s richest seabird habitat before Polynesians arrived more than a millennium ago. The forests of less isolated islands in the Pacific likewise teemed with megapodes, rails, pigeons, parrots, kingfishers, and songbirds at first human contact.
By synthesizing data from the distant past, Steadman hopes to inform present conservation programs. Grounded in geology, paleontology, and archeology, but biological at its core, Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds is an exceptional work of unparalleled scholarship that will stimulate creative discussions of terrestrial life on oceanic islands for years to come.
From cave paintings to the latest Siberian finds, woolly mammoths have fascinated people across Europe, Asia, and North America for centuries. Remains of these enormous prehistoric animals were among the first fossils to be recognized as such, and they have played a crucial role in the birth and development of paleontology. In this lively, wide-ranging look at the fate of the mammoth, Claudine Cohen reanimates this large mammal with heavy curved tusks and shaggy brown hair through its history in science, myth, and popular culture.
Cohen uses the mammoth and the theories that naturalists constructed around it to illuminate wider issues in the history of science, showing how changing views about a single object reveal the development of scientific methods, practices, and ideas. How are fossils discovered, reconstructed, displayed, and interpreted? What stories are told about them, by whom, and how do these stories reflect the cultures and societies in which they are told?
To find out, Cohen takes us on a grand tour of the study of mammoth remains, from England, Germany, and France to Russia and America, and from the depths of Africa to the frozen frontiers of Alaska and Siberia, where intact mammoth corpses have been discovered in the permafrost. Along the way, she shows how paleontologists draw on myth and history, as well as on scientific evidence, to explore the deep history of the earth and of life. Cohen takes her history from the sixteenth century right up to the present, when researchers are using molecular biology to retrieve mammoth DNA, calling up dreams of cloning the mammoth and one day seeing herds of woolly mammoths roaming the frozen steppes.
The Steven C. Minkin (Union Chapel) Paleozoic Footprint Site ranks among the most important fossil sites in the world today, and Footprints in Stone recounts the accidental revelation of its existence and detailed findings about its fossil record.
Currently 2,500 miles from the equator and more than 250 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, the Minkin site was a swampy tropical forest adjacent to a tidal flat during the Coal Age or Carboniferous Period more than 300 million years ago. That fecund strand of sand and mud at the ocean’s edge teemed with the earth’s earliest reptiles as well as amphibians, fish, horseshoe crabs, spiders, jumping insects, and other fascinating organisms. Unlike dinosaurs and other large animals whose sturdy bodies left hard fossil records, most of these small, soft-bodied creatures left no concrete remains. But they did leave something else. Preserved in the site’s coal beds along with insect wings and beautifully textured patterns of primeval plants are their footprints, fossilized animal tracks from which modern paleontologists can glean many valuable insights about their physical anatomies and behaviors.
The paleontological examination of fossil tracks is now the cutting-edge of contemporary scholarship, and the Minkin site is the first and largest site of its kind in eastern North America. Discovered by a local high school science teacher, the site provides both professional and amateur paleontologists around the world with a wealth of fossil track samples along with an inspirational story for amateur explorers and collectors.
Authoritative and extensively illustrated, Footprints in Stone brings together the contributions of many geologists and paleontologists who photographed, documented, and analyzed the Minkin site’s fossil trackways. An engrossing tale of its serendipitous discovery and a detailed study of its fossil records, Footprints in Stone is a landmark publication in the history of paleontology.
The fossil record affords a fascinating glimpse at past environments and the kinds of plants and animals that inhabited them. Some sites, for instance, contain nearly complete preserved records of ancient life. Fourteen of these remarkable fossil depositories are found in North America, including Mistaken Point in Newfoundland, Mazon Creek in Illinois, and Rancho La Brea in Los Angeles.
Fossil Ecosystems of North America describes these and eleven other sites that range across the continent.
John R. Nudds and Paul A. Selden introduce each site and place the fossil findings in geologic and evolutionary context. They go on to describe the history of research at each site—the sedimentology, stratigraphy, biota, paleoecology—and offer comparisons to other localities of similar age or environment. Fossil Ecosystems of North America also includes an appendix of museums at which readers can see specimens from the sites and suggestions for visiting the sites in person. In some cases, new specimens can still be collected from these sites by professionals and amateurs alike.
Accessible and informative, this guide to Fossil-Lagerstätten will appeal to expert scientists and adventuresome lay paleontologists alike.
Approximately 99% of all life that has ever existed is extinct. Fortunately, these long dead species have left traces of their lives and interactions with other species in the rock record that paleoecologists use to understand how species and ecosystems have changed over time. This record of past life allows us to study the dynamic nature of the Earth and gives context to current and future ecological challenges.
This book brings together forty-four classic papers published between 1924 and 1999 that trace the origins and development of paleoecology. The articles cross taxonomic groups, habitat types, geographic areas, and time and have made substantial contributions to our knowledge of the evolution of life. Encompassing the full breadth of paleoecology, the book is divided into six parts: community and ecosystem dynamics, community reconstruction, diversity dynamics, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, species interaction, and taphonomy. Each paper is also introduced by a contemporary expert who gives context and explains its importance to ongoing paleoecological research. A comprehensive introduction to the field, Foundations of Paleoecology will be an essential reference for new students and established paleoecologists alike.
Frozen mammals of the Ice Age, preserved for millennia in the tundra, have been a source of fascination and mystery since their first discovery over two centuries ago. These mummies, their ecology, and their preservation are the subject of this compelling book by paleontologist Dale Guthrie. The 1979 find of a frozen, extinct steppe bison in an Alaskan gold mine allowed him to undertake the first scientific excavation of an Ice Age mummy in North America and to test theories about these enigmatic frozen fauna.
The 36,000-year-old bison mummy, coated with blue mineral crystals, was dubbed "Blue Babe." Guthrie conveys the excitement of its excavation and shows how he made use of evidence from living animals, other Pleistocene mummies, Paleolithic art, and geological data. With photographs and scores of detailed drawings, he takes the reader through the excavation and subsequent detective work, analyzing the animal's carcass and its surroundings, the circumstances of its death, its appearance in life, the landscape it inhabited, and the processes of preservation by freezing. His examination shows that Blue Babe died in early winter, falling prey to lions that inhabited the Arctic during the Pleistocene era.
Guthrie uses information gleaned from his study of Blue Babe to provide a broad picture of bison evolutionary history and ecology, including speculations on the interactions of bison and Ice Age peoples. His description of the Mammoth Steppe as a cold, dry, grassy plain is based on an entirely new way of reading the fossil record.
Tree-ring dating (dendrochronology) is a method of scientific dating based on the analysis of tree-ring growth patterns. As author James Speer notes, trees are remarkable bioindicators. Although there are other scientific means of dating climatic and environmental events, dendrochronology provides the most reliable of all paleorecords. Dendrochronology can be applied to very old trees to provide long-term records of past temperature, rainfall, fire, insect outbreaks, landslides, hurricanes, and ice storms--to name only a few events.
This comprehensive text addresses all of the subjects that a reader who is new to the field will need to know and will be a welcome reference for practitioners at all levels. It includes a history of the discipline, biological and ecological background, principles of the field, basic scientific information on the structure and growth of trees, the complete range of dendrochronology methods, and a full description of each of the relevant subdisciplines.
Individual chapters address the composition of wood, methods of field and laboratory study, dendroarchaeology, dendroclimatology, dendroecology, dendrogeomorphology, and dendrochemistry. The book also provides thorough introductions to common computer programs and methods of statistical analysis. In the final chapter, the author describes "frontiers in dendrochronology," with an eye toward future directions in the field. He concludes with several useful appendixes, including a listing of tree and shrub species that have been used successfully by dendrochronologists. Throughout, photographs and illustrations visually represent the state of knowledge in the field.
French zoologist Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) helped form and bring credibility to geology and paleontology. Here Martin J. S. Rudwick provides the first modern translation of Cuvier's essential writings on fossils and catastrophes and links these translated texts together with his own insightful narrative and interpretive commentary.
"Martin Rudwick has done English-speaking science a considerable service by translating and commenting on Cuvier's work. . . . He guides us through Cuvier's most important writings, especially those which demonstrate his new technique of comparative anatomy."—Douglas Palmer, New Scientist
As the Ice Age came to an end, North America lost a stunning variety of animals. Mammoths, mastodon, llamas, ground-dwelling sloths the size of elephants, beavers the size of bears, pronghorn antelope the size of poodles, and carnivores to chase them—sabertooth cats, dire wolves, American lions and cheetahs; these and many more were gone by 10,000 years ago. Giant Sloths and Sabertooth Cats surveys all these animals, with a particular focus on the Great Basin. The book also explores the major attempts to explain the extinctions. Because some believe that they were due to the activities of human hunters, the author also reviews the archaeological evidence left by the earliest known human occupants of the Great Basin, showing that people were here at the same time and in the same places as many of the extinct animals.
Were these animals abundant in the Great Basin? A detailed analysis of the distinctive assemblages of plants that now live in this region leads to a surprising, and perhaps controversial, conclusion about those abundances.
If you are interested in Ice Age mammals or in the Ice Age archaeology of North America, if you are interested in the natural history of the Great Basin or the ways in which the plants of today’s landscapes might be used to understand the deeper past, you will be fascinated by this book.
On this blue planet, long before pterodactyls took to the skies and tyrannosaurs prowled the continents, tiny green organisms populated the ancient oceans. Fossil and phylogenetic evidence suggests that chlorophyll, the green pigment responsible for coloring these organisms, has been in existence for some 85% of Earth’s long history—that is, for roughly 3.5 billion years. In How the Earth Turned Green, Joseph E. Armstrong traces the history of these verdant organisms, which many would call plants, from their ancient beginnings to the diversity of green life that inhabits the Earth today.
Using an evolutionary framework, How the Earth Turned Green addresses questions such as: Should all green organisms be considered plants? Why do these organisms look the way they do? How are they related to one another and to other chlorophyll-free organisms? How do they reproduce? How have they changed and diversified over time? And how has the presence of green organisms changed the Earth’s ecosystems? More engaging than a traditional textbook and displaying an astonishing breadth, How the Earth Turned Green will both delight and enlighten embryonic botanists and any student interested in the evolutionary history of plants.
Frozen mammals of the Ice Age, preserved for millennia in the tundra, have been a source of fascination and mystery since their first discovery over two centuries ago. The 1979 find of a frozen, extinct steppe bison in an Alaskan gold mine allowed paleontologist Dale Guthrie to undertake the first scientific excavation of an Ice Age mummy in North America and to test theories about these enigmatic frozen fauna. In this brilliant remaking of the death of a wooly bison over 36,000 years ago, we’re given a glimpse of what life was like during the Pleistocene Epoch. From torn fragments and patches of deep-frozen skin and insights gleaned from studies of Montana bison, African lions, and Iberian cave art, Ice Age Forensics presents the story of the huge carcass Guthrie calls “Blue Babe”—and the excitement surrounding its reconstruction.
The first book of its kind, In Quest of Great Lakes Ice Age Vertebrates details the Ice Age fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals in the provinces and states surrounding the Great Lakes. Holman's work begins with definitions of concepts and terms for the general audience and a general discussion of how the last ice age, the Pleistocene Epoch, affected our physical and biological world. Methods employed and tools used in the collection of vertebrate fossils, as well as ethics and protocol in the maintenance of a useful collection follow, coupled with details of each animal's structure, habits, habitats, and ecological importance. The heart of the book is a species-by-species account of the Pleistocene vertebrates of the region, followed by an examination of the compelling problems of the Pleistocene relative to faunal interpretations, including overall ecological makeup of the region's fauna, vertebrate range adjustment that occurred in the region, Pleistocene extinction effects on the animals of the region, the aftermath of the Ice Age, and a look at what the future may hold for the region.
Humans domesticated dogs soon after Neanderthals began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, Pat Shipman hypothesizes, made possible unprecedented success in hunting large Ice Age mammals—a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for human invaders at a time when climate change made both humans and Neanderthals vulnerable.
Land bridges are the causeways of biodiversity. When they form, organisms are introduced into a new patchwork of species and habitats, forever altering the ecosystems into which they flow; and when land bridges disappear or fracture, organisms are separated into reproductively isolated populations that can evolve independently. More than this, land bridges play a role in determining global climates through changes to moisture and heat transport and are also essential factors in the development of biogeographic patterns across geographically remote regions.
In this book, paleobotanist Alan Graham traces the formation and disruption of key New World land bridges and describes the biotic, climatic, and biogeographic ramifications of these land masses’ changing formations over time. Looking at five land bridges, he explores their present geographic setting and climate, modern vegetation, indigenous peoples (with special attention to their impact on past and present vegetation), and geologic history. From the great Panamanian isthmus to the boreal connections across the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans that allowed exchange of organisms between North America, Europe, and Asia, Graham’s sweeping, one-hundred-million-year history offers new insight into the forces that shaped the life and land of the New World.
The story of life's splendid drama has captivated generations of the general public, just as it has intrigued biologists, especially those who began to try to solve evolutionary puzzles in the years immediately after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. Yet histories of the Darwinian revolution have paid far more attention to theoretical debates and have largely ignored the researchers who struggled to comprehend the deeper evolutionary significance of fossil bones and the structures of living animals. Peter J. Bowler recovers some of this lost history in Life's Splendid Drama, the definitive account of evolutionary morphology and its relationships with paleontology and bio-geography.
"Intriguing and insightful."—William Kimler, American Scientist
"[A] volume of impressive scholarship and extensive references."—Library Journal
"One of Bowler's best."—Kevin Padian, Nature
"[Bowler's] comprehensive review of the various debates and ideas in taxonomy, morphology, and vertebrate evolution . . . deserves the attention of biologists and other scholars interested in the history of ideas."—Choice
"The persistence of pre-Darwinian modes of thought in contemporary biology underlines the importance of Bowler's book. Its value is not only in the history it provides, but also in the way it illumines the present."—Peter J. Causton, Boston Book Review
The landscape of southwestern Wyoming around the ghost town of Fossil is beautiful but harsh; a dry, high mountain desert with cool nights and long, cold winters inhabited by a sparse mountain desert community. But during the early Eocene, more than fifty million years ago, it was a subtropical lake, surrounded by volcanoes and forests and teeming with life. Buried within the sun-baked limestone is spectacular evidence of the lush vegetation and plentiful fauna of the ancient past, a transitional ecosystem giving us clues to how North America recovered from a great extinction event that wiped out dinosaurs and the majority of all species on the planet.
Paleontologists have been conducting excavations at Fossil Butte for more than 150 years, and with The Lost World of Fossil Lake, one of the world’s leading experts on the fossils from this spectacular locality takes readers on a fascinating journey through the history of the discovery and exploration of the site. Deftly mixing incredible color photographs of the remarkable fossils uncovered at the site with an explanation of their evolutionary significance, Grande presents an unprecedented, comprehensive portrait of the site, its treasures, and what we’ve learned from them. Grande presents a broad range of fossilized organisms from Fossil Lake—from single-celled algae to palm trees to crocodiles—and together they make this long-extinct community come to life in all its diversity and splendor. A field guide and atlas round out the book, enabling readers to identify and classify the majority of the known fossils from the site.
Lavishly produced in full color, The Lost World of Fossil Lake is a stunning reminder of the intellectual and physical beauty of scientific investigation—and a breathtaking window onto our planet’s long-lost past.
"It is not often that a work can literally rewrite a person's view of a subject. And this is exactly what Rudwick's book should do for many paleontologists' view of the history of their own field."—Stephen J. Gould, Paleobotany and Palynology
"Rudwick has not merely written the first book-length history of palaeontology in the English language; he has written a very intelligent one. . . . His accounts of sources are rounded and organic: he treats the structure of arguments as Cuvier handled fossil bones."—Roy S. Porter, History of Science
Men among the Mammoths
A. Bowdoin Van Riper University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress GN805.V36 1993 | Dewey Decimal 936.1
Van Riper recreates scientists' first arguments for human antiquity, placing these debates within the context of Victorian science. Using field notes, scientific reports, and previously unpublished letters, he shows also how the study of human prehistory brought together geologists, archeologists, and anthropologists in their first interdisciplinary scientific effort. A vivid account of how the discovery of human antiquity forced Victorians to redefine their assumptions about human evolution and the relationship of science to Christianity.
Everett C. Olson and Robert L. Miller University of Chicago Press, 1999 Library of Congress QL799.O45 1999 | Dewey Decimal 571.31
Despite recent advances in genetics, development, anatomy, systematics, and morphometrics, the synthesis of ideas and research agenda put forth in the classic Morphological Integration remains remarkably fresh, timely, and relevant. Pioneers in reexamining morphology, Everett Olson and Robert Miller were among the first to explore the concept of the integrated organism in both living and extinct populations. In a new foreword and afterword, biologists Barry Chernoff and Paul Magwene summarize the landmark achievements made by Olson and Miller and bring matters discussed in the book up to date, suggest new methods, and accentuate the importance of continued research in morphological integration.
Everett C. Olson was a professor at the University of Chicago and at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was a former president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Robert L. Miller was associate professor of geology at the University of Chicago, associate scientist in marine geology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a member of the board of editors of the Journal of Geology.
On the Origin of Phyla
James W. Valentine University of Chicago Press, 2004 Library of Congress QH367.5.V26 2004 | Dewey Decimal 591.38
Owing its inspiration and title to On the Origin of Species, James W. Valentine's ambitious book synthesizes and applies the vast treasury of theory and research collected in the century and a half since Darwin's time. By investigating the origins of life's diversity, Valentine unlocks the mystery of the origin of phyla.
One of the twentieth century's most distinguished paleobiologists, Valentine here integrates data from molecular genetics, evolutionary developmental biology, embryology, comparative morphology, and paleontology into an analysis of interest to scholars from any of these fields. He begins by examining the sorts of evidence that can be gleaned from fossils, molecules, and morphology, then reviews and compares the basic morphology and development of animal phyla, emphasizing the important design elements found in the bodyplans of both living and extinct phyla. Finally, Valentine undertakes the monumental task of developing models to explain the origin and early diversification of animal phyla, as well as their later evolutionary patterns.
Truly a magnum opus, On the Origin of Phyla will take its place as one of the classic scientific texts of the twentieth century, affecting the work of paleontologists, morphologists, and developmental, molecular, and evolutionary biologists for decades to come.
"A magisterial compendium . . . . Valentine offers a judicious evaluation of an astonishing array of evidence."—Richard Fortey, New Scientist
"Truly a magnum opus, On the Origin of Phyla has already taken its place as one of the classic scientific texts of the twentieth century, affecting the work of paleontologists, morphologists, and developmental, molecular, and evolutionary biologists for decades to come."—Ethology, Ecology & Evolution
"Valentine is one of the Renaissance minds of our time. . . . Darwin wisely called his best-known work On the Origin of the Species; the origin of the phyla is an even stickier problem, and Valentine deserves credit for tackling it at such breadth . . . . A magnificient book."—Stefan Bengtson, Nature
In the grand sweep of evolution, the origin of radically new kinds of organisms in the fossil record is the result of a relatively simple process: natural selection marching through the ages. Or is it? Does Darwinian evolution acting over a sufficiently long period of time really offer a complete explanation, or are unusual genetic events and particular environmental and ecological circumstances also involved? With The Origin of Higher Taxa, Tom Kemp sifts through the layers of paleobiological, genetic, and ecological evidence on a quest to answer this essential, game-changing question of biology.
Looking beyond the microevolutionary force of Darwinian natural selection, Kemp enters the realm of macroevolution, or evolution above the species level. From the origin of mammals to the radiation of flowering plants, these large-scale patterns—such as the rise of novel organismal design, adaptive radiations, and lineage extinctions—encompass the most significant trends and transformations in evolution. As macroevolution cannot be studied by direct observation and experiment, scientists have to rely on the outcome of evolution as evidence for the processes at work, in the form of patterns of species appearances and extinctions in a spotty fossil record, and through the nature of species extant today. Marshalling a wealth of new fossil and molecular evidence and increasingly sophisticated techniques for their study, Kemp here offers a timely and original reinterpretation of how higher taxa such as arthropods, mollusks, mammals, birds, and whales evolved—a bold new take on the history of life.
This comparative analysis aids the fieldworker in identifying fossil proboscidean bones from early man sites. It also describes the skulls, mandibles, and posteranial skeletons of forty families of birds frequently found in archaeological excavations in the United States.
Owls, Caves, and Fossils is the first comprehensive, fully illustrated account of small mammal taphonomy. The study of small mammal remains has previously been neglected in favor of such large mammals as elephants, bovids, and carnivores, and Andrews remedies this deficiency by analyzing the taphonomic processes significant in the preservation of small mammal fauna in caves.
The Paleobiological Revolution chronicles the incredible ascendance of the once-maligned science of paleontology to the vanguard of a field. With the establishment of the modern synthesis in the 1940s and the pioneering work of George Gaylord Simpson, Ernst Mayr, and Theodosius Dobzhansky, as well as the subsequent efforts of Stephen Jay Gould, David Raup, and James Valentine, paleontology became embedded in biology and emerged as paleobiology, a first-rate discipline central to evolutionary studies. Pairing contributions from some of the leading actors of the transformation with overviews from historians and philosophers of science, the essays here capture the excitement of the seismic changes in the discipline. In so doing, David Sepkoski and Michael Ruse harness the energy of the past to call for further study of the conceptual development of modern paleobiology.
"Endlessly absorbing and informative. It would be hard to imagine a better introduction to this most important and fascinating field.”—Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything
Paleontology: A Brief History of Life is the fifth title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties.
In this volume, Ian Tattersall, a highly esteemed figure in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology, leads a fascinating tour of the history of life and the evolution of human beings.
Starting at the very beginning, Tattersall examines patterns of change in the biosphere over time, and the correlations of biological events with physical changes in the Earth’s environment. He introduces the complex of evolutionary processes, situates human beings in the luxuriant diversity of Life (demonstrating that however remarkable we may legitimately find ourselves to be, we are the product of the same basic forces and processes that have driven the evolutionary histories of all other creatures), and he places the origin of our extraordinary spiritual sensibilities in the context of the exaptational and emergent acquisition of symbolic cognition and thought.
Concise and yet comprehensive, historically penetrating and yet up-to-date, responsibly factual and yet engaging, Paleontology serves as the perfect entrée to science's greatest story.
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
In the 1920s an international team of scientists and miners unearthed the richest evidence of human evolution the world had ever seen: Peking Man. After the communist revolution of 1949, Peking Man became a prominent figure in the movement to bring science to the people. In a new state with twin goals of crushing “superstition” and establishing a socialist society, the story of human evolution was the first lesson in Marxist philosophy offered to the masses. At the same time, even Mao’s populist commitment to mass participation in science failed to account for the power of popular culture—represented most strikingly in legends about the Bigfoot-like Wild Man—to reshape ideas about human nature.
The People’s Peking Man is a skilled social history of twentieth-century Chinese paleoanthropology and a compelling cultural—and at times comparative—history of assumptions and debates about what it means to be human. By focusing on issues that push against the boundaries of science and politics, The People’s Peking Man offers an innovative approach to modern Chinese history and the history of science.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University of Chicago Press, 2008 Library of Congress QE25.L513 2008 | Dewey Decimal 551
Protogaea, an ambitious account of terrestrial history, was central to the development of the earth sciences in the eighteenth century and provides key philosophical insights into the unity of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s thought and writings. In the book, Leibniz offers observations about the formation of the earth, the actions of fire and water, the genesis of rocks and minerals, the origins of salts and springs, the formation of fossils, and their identification as the remains of living organisms. Protogaea also includes a series of engraved plates depicting the remains of animals—in particular the famous reconstruction of a “fossil unicorn”—together with a cross section of the cave in which some fossil objects were discovered.
Though the works of Leibniz have been widely translated, Protogaea has languished in its original Latin for centuries. Now Claudine Cohen and Andre Wakefield offer the first English translation of this central text in natural philosophy and natural history. Written between 1691 and 1693, and first published after Leibniz’s death in 1749, Protogaea reemerges in this bilingual edition with an introduction that carefully situates the work within its historical context.
In 1972 Stephen Jay Gould took the scientific world by storm with his paper on punctuated equilibrium. Challenging a core assumption of Darwin's theory of evolution, it launched the controversial idea that the majority of species originates in geological moments (punctuations) and persists in stasis. Now, thirty-five years later, Punctuated Equilibrium offers his only book-length testament on a theory he fiercely promoted, repeatedly refined, and tirelessly defended.
"What caused the extinction of so many animals at or near the end of the Pleistocene? Was it overkill by human hunters, the result of a major climatic change or was it just a part of some massive evolutionary turnover? Questions such as these have plagued scientists for over one hundred years and are still being heatedly debated today. Quaternary Extinctions presents the latest and most comprehensive examination of these questions." —Geological Magazine
"May be regarded as a kind of standard encyclopedia for Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology for years to come." —American Scientist
"Should be read by paleobiologists, biologists, wildlife managers, ecologists, archeologists, and anyone concerned about the ongoing extinction of plants and animals." —Science
"Uncommonly readable and varied for watchers of paleontology and the rise of humankind." —Scientific American
"Represents a quantum leap in our knowledge of Pleistocene and Holocene palaeobiology. . . . Many volumes on our bookshelves are destined to gather dust rather than attention. But not this one." —Nature
"Two strong impressions prevail when first looking into this epic compendium. One is the judicious balance of views that range over the whole continuum between monocausal, cultural, or environmental explanations. The second is that both the data base and theoretical sophistication of the protagonists in the debate have improved by a quantum leap since 1967." —American Anthropologist
Rereading the Fossil Record presents the first-ever historical account of the origin, rise, and importance of paleobiology, from the mid-nineteenth century to the late 1980s. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, David Sepkoski shows how the movement was conceived and promoted by a small but influential group of paleontologists and examines the intellectual, disciplinary, and political dynamics involved in the ascendency of paleobiology. By tracing the role of computer technology, large databases, and quantitative analytical methods in the emergence of paleobiology, this book also offers insight into the growing prominence and centrality of data-driven approaches in recent science.
Over the past decade, fossil finds from China have stunned the world, grabbing headlines and changing perceptions with a wealth of new discoveries. Many of these finds were first announced to English speakers in the journal Nature.Rise of the Dragon gathers together sixteen of these original reports, some augmented with commentaries originally published in Nature's "News and Views" section.
Perhaps the best known of these new Chinese fossils are the famous feathered dinosaurs from Liaoning Province, which may help end one of the most intense debates in paleontology—whether birds evolved from dinosaurs. But other finds have been just as spectacular, such as the minutely preserved (to the cellular level) animal embryos of the 670 million-year-old Duoshantuo phosphorites, or the world's oldest known fish, from the Chengjiang formation in southwestern Yunnan Province.
Rise of the Dragon makes descriptions and detailed discussions of these important finds available in one convenient volume for paleontologists and serious fossil fans.
How did the earth look in prehistoric times? Scientists and artists collaborated during the half-century prior to the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species to produce the first images of dinosaurs and the world they inhabited. Their interpretations, informed by recent fossil discoveries, were the first efforts to represent the prehistoric world based on sources other than the Bible. Martin J. S. Rudwick presents more than a hundred rare illustrations from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to explore the implications of reconstructing a past no one has ever seen.
The so-called “Bone Wars” of the 1880s, which pitted Edward Drinker Cope against Othniel Charles Marsh in a frenzy of fossil collection and discovery, may have marked the introduction of dinosaurs to the American public, but the second Jurassic dinosaur rush, which took place around the turn of the twentieth century, brought the prehistoric beasts back to life. These later expeditions—which involved new competitors hailing from leading natural history museums in New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh—yielded specimens that would be reconstructed into the colossal skeletons that thrill visitors today in museum halls across the country.
Reconsidering the fossil speculation, the museum displays, and the media frenzy that ushered dinosaurs into the American public consciousness, Paul Brinkman takes us back to the birth of dinomania, the modern obsession with all things Jurassic. Featuring engaging and colorful personalities and motivations both altruistic and ignoble, The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush shows that these later expeditions were just as foundational—if not more so—to the establishment of paleontology and the budding collections of museums than the more famous Cope and Marsh treks. With adventure, intrigue, and rivalry, this is science at its most swashbuckling.
Nature has published news about the history of life ever since its first issue in 1869, in which T. H. Huxley ("Darwin's bulldog") wrote about Triassic dinosaurs. In recent years, the field has enjoyed a tremendous flowering due to new investigative techniques drawn from cladistics (a revolutionary method for charting evolutionary relationships) and molecular biology.
Shaking the Tree brings together nineteen review articles written for Nature over the past decade by many of the major figures in paleontology and evolution, from Stephen Jay Gould to Simon Conway Morris. Each article is brief, accessible, and opinionated, providing "shoot from the hip" accounts of the latest news and debates. Topics covered include major extinction events, homeotic genes and body plans, the origin and evolution of the primates, and reconstructions of phylogenetic trees for a wide variety of groups. The editor, Henry Gee, gives new commentary and updated references.
Shaking the Tree is a one-stop resource for engaging overviews of the latest research in the history of life on Earth.
Rudolf Raff is recognized as a pioneer in evolutionary developmental biology. In their 1983 book, Embryos, Genes, and Evolution, Raff and co-author Thomas Kaufman proposed a synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology. In The Shape of Life, Raff analyzes the rise of this new experimental discipline and lays out new research questions, hypotheses, and approaches to guide its development.
Raff uses the evolution of animal body plans to exemplify the interplay between developmental mechanisms and evolutionary patterns. Animal body plans emerged half a billion years ago. Evolution within these body plans during this span of time has resulted in the tremendous diversity of living animal forms.
Raff argues for an integrated approach to the study of the intertwined roles of development and evolution involving phylogenetic, comparative, and functional biology. This new synthesis will interest not only scientists working in these areas, but also paleontologists, zoologists, morphologists, molecular biologists, and geneticists.
Nineteenth-century paleontologists boasted that, shown a single bone, they could identify or even reconstruct the extinct creature it came from with infallible certainty—“Show me the bone, and I will describe the animal!” Paleontologists such as Georges Cuvier and Richard Owen were heralded as scientific virtuosos, sometimes even veritable wizards, capable of resurrecting the denizens of an ancient past from a mere glance at a fragmentary bone. Such extraordinary feats of predictive reasoning relied on the law of correlation, which proposed that each element of an animal corresponds mutually with each of the others, so that a carnivorous tooth must be accompanied by a certain kind of jawbone, neck, stomach, limbs, and feet.
Show Me the Bone tells the story of the rise and fall of this famous claim, tracing its fortunes from Europe to America and showing how it persisted in popular science and literature and shaped the practices of paleontologists long after the method on which it was based had been refuted. In so doing, Gowan Dawson reveals how decisively the practices of the scientific elite were—and still are—shaped by their interactions with the general public.
Although the species is one of the fundamental units of biological classification, there is remarkably little consensus among biologists about what defines a species, even within distinct sub-disciplines. The literature of paleobiology, in particular, is littered with qualifiers and cautions about applying the term to the fossil record or equating such species with those recognized among living organisms. In Species and Speciation in the Fossil Record, experts in the field examine how they conceive of species of fossil animals and consider the implications these different approaches have for thinking about species in the context of macroevolution.
After outlining views of the Modern Synthesis of evolutionary disciplines and detailing the development within paleobiology of quantitative methods for documenting and analyzing variation within fossil assemblages, contributors explore the challenges of recognizing and defining species from fossil specimens—and offer potential solutions. Addressing both the tempo and mode of speciation over time, they show how with careful interpretation and a clear species concept, fossil species may be sufficiently robust for meaningful paleobiological analyses. Indeed, they demonstrate that the species concept, if more refined, could unearth a wealth of information about the interplay between species origins and extinctions, between local and global climate change, and greatly deepen our understanding of the evolution of life.
Throughout the four hundred thousand years that humanity has been collecting fossils, sea urchin fossils, or echinoids, have continually been among the most prized, from the Paleolithic era, when they decorated flint axes, to today, when paleobiologists study them for clues to the earth’s history.
In The Star-Crossed Stone, Kenneth J. McNamara, an expert on fossil echinoids, takes readers on an incredible fossil hunt, with stops in history, paleontology, folklore, mythology, art, religion, and much more. Beginning with prehistoric times, when urchin fossils were used as jewelry, McNamara reveals how the fossil crept into the religious and cultural lives of societies around the world—the roots of the familiar five-pointed star, for example, can be traced to the pattern found on urchins. But McNamara’s vision is even broader than that: using our knowledge of early habits of fossil collecting, he explores the evolution of the human mind itself, drawing striking conclusions about humanity’s earliest appreciation of beauty and the first stirrings of artistic expression. Along the way, the fossil becomes a nexus through which we meet brilliant eccentrics and visionary archaeologists and develop new insights into topics as seemingly disparate as hieroglyphics, Beowulf, and even church organs.
An idiosyncratic celebration of science, nature, and human ingenuity, The Star-Crossed Stone is as charming and unforgettable as the fossil at its heart.
Whether the fossil record should be read at face value or whether it presents a distorted view of the history of life is an argument seemingly as old as many fossils themselves. In the late 1700s, Georges Cuvier argued for a literal interpretation, but in the early 1800s, Charles Lyell’s gradualist view of the earth’s history required a more nuanced interpretation of that same record. To this day, the tension between literal and interpretive readings lies at the heart of paleontological research, influencing the way scientists view extinction patterns and their causes, ecosystem persistence and turnover, and the pattern of morphologic change and mode of speciation.
With Stratigraphic Paleobiology, Mark E. Patzkowsky and Steven M. Holland present a critical framework for assessing the fossil record, one based on a modern understanding of the principles of sediment accumulation. Patzkowsky and Holland argue that the distribution of fossil taxa in time and space is controlled not only by processes of ecology, evolution, and environmental change, but also by the stratigraphic processes that govern where and when sediment that might contain fossils is deposited and preserved. The authors explore the exciting possibilities of stratigraphic paleobiology, and along the way demonstrate its great potential to answer some of the most critical questions about the history of life: How and why do environmental niches change over time? What is the tempo and mode of evolutionary change and what processes drive this change? How has the diversity of life changed through time, and what processes control this change? And, finally, what is the tempo and mode of change in ecosystems over time?
Breathtaking in scope, this is the first survey of the entire
ecological history of life on land—from the earliest traces
of terrestrial organisms over 400 million years ago to the
beginning of human agriculture. By providing myriad insights
into the unique ecological information contained in the
fossil record, it establishes a new and ambitious basis for
the study of evolutionary paleoecology of land ecosystems.
A joint undertaking of the Evolution of Terrestrial
Ecosystems Consortium at the National Museum of Natural
History, Smithsonian Institution, and twenty-six additional
researchers, this book begins with four chapters that lay out
the theoretical background and methodology of the science of
evolutionary paleoecology. Included are a comprehensive
review of the taphonomy and paleoenvironmental settings of
fossil deposits as well as guidelines for developing
ecological characterizations of extinct organisms and the
communities in which they lived. The remaining three
chapters treat the history of terrestrial ecosystems through
geological time, emphasizing how ecological interactions have
changed, the rate and tempo of ecosystem change, the role of
exogenous "forcing factors" in generating ecological change,
and the effect of ecological factors on the evolution of
The six principal authors of this volume are all associated
with the Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems program at the
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
In February 2000, while excavating his property in St. George, Utah, Sheldon Johnson turned over a piece of ground and discovered a fully preserved dinosaur footprint. That track was the first of many fossils to be uncovered. Five years later, the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm was established to preserve one of the richest and oldest dinosaur-age fossil sites in Utah.
Tracks in Deep Time presents, for the first time, an engaging, thoroughly readable account of the history, geology, and paleontology of this important site. Two hundred million years ago, Lake Dixie covered the site. Within its waters and along its shores, a diverse ecosystem of dinosaurs, early crocodylians, fishes, plants, and other organisms thrived, leaving behind thousands of footprints and other fossils preserved in layers of rock. Unusual fossils found here include the world’s largest collection of tracks left by swimming dinosaurs and one of only six traces known to have been made by a sitting, meat-eating dinosaur. With approachable text and lavish, full-color photographs and illustrations, Jerald Harris and Andrew Milner describe how geologists and paleontologists have painstakingly reconstructed a vivid “snapshot” of life from the Early Jurassic epoch.
Distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs, and spiders, trilobites swam the planet’s prehistoric seas for 300 million years, from the Lower Cambrian to the end of the Permian eras—and they did so very capably. Trilobite fossils have been unearthed on every continent, with more than 20,000 species identified by science. One of the most arresting animals of our pre-dinosaur world, trilobites are also favorites among the fossil collectors of today, their crystalline eyes often the catalyst for a lifetime of paleontological devotion. And there is no collector more devoted—or more venerated—than Riccardo Levi-Setti. With The Trilobite Book, a much anticipated follow-up to his classic Trilobites, Levi-Setti brings us a glorious and revealing guide to these surreal arthropods of ancient Earth.
Featuring specimens from Bohemia to Newfoundland, California to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and Wales to the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Levi-Setti’s magnificent book reanimates these “butterflies of the seas” in 235 astonishing full-color photographs. All original, Levi-Setti’s images serve as the jumping-off point for tales of his global quests in search of these highly sought-after fossils; for discussions of their mineralogical origins, as revealed by their color; and for unraveling the role of the now-extinct trilobites in our planetary history.
Sure to enthrall paleontologists with its scientific insights and amateur enthusiasts with its beautiful and informative images, The Trilobite Book combines the best of science, technology, aesthetics, and personal adventure. It will inspire new collectors for eras to come.
Riccardo Levi-Setti University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress QE821.L46 1993 | Dewey Decimal 565.393
Long before dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were trilobites—one of the most striking animals to populate prehistoric seas and whose fossils are favorites among collectors today. From the giant trilobites of Newfoundland to fascinating new specimens from Morocco, Levi-Setti's magnificent book brings these "butterflies of the sea" to life for everyone curious about our remote past
This second edition features coverage of a greater variety of trilobites, an improved photographic atlas reorganized to present their evolutionary progression, and over 200 photographs.
Dinosaurs have held sway over our imaginations since the discovery of their bones first shocked the world in the nineteenth century. From the monstrous beasts stalking Jurassic Park to the curiosities of the natural history museum, dinosaurs are creatures that unite young and old in awestruck wonder. Digging ever deeper into dinosaurs’ ancient past, science continues to unearth new knowledge about them and the world they inhabited, a fantastic time when the footprints of these behemoths marked the Earth that we humans now walk.
Who better to guide us through this ancient world than paleontologist Mark A. Norell? A world-renowned expert in paleontology, with a knowledge of dinosaurs as deep as the buried fossils they left behind, Norell is in charge of what is perhaps America’s most popular collection of dinosaur bones and fossils, the beloved displays at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In The World of Dinosaurs, he leads readers through a richly illustrated collection detailing the evolution of these ancient creatures. From the horns of the Protoceratops to the wings of the Archaeopteryx, readers are invited to explore profiles of dinosaurs along with hundreds of color photographs, sketches, maps, and other materials—all rooted in the latest scientific discoveries—sure to both capture the imagination and satisfy a prehistoric curiosity. The World of Dinosaurs presents an astonishing collection of knowledge in an immersive visual journey that will fascinate any fan of Earth’s ancient inhabitants.