Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters

Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters

by Donald R. Prothero, Carl Buell
     
 

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Over the past twenty years, paleontologists have made tremendous fossil discoveries, including fossils that mark the growth of whales, manatees, and seals from land mammals and the origins of elephants, horses, and rhinos. Today there exists an amazing diversity of fossil humans, suggesting we walked upright long before we acquired large brains, and new evidence

Overview

Over the past twenty years, paleontologists have made tremendous fossil discoveries, including fossils that mark the growth of whales, manatees, and seals from land mammals and the origins of elephants, horses, and rhinos. Today there exists an amazing diversity of fossil humans, suggesting we walked upright long before we acquired large brains, and new evidence from molecules that enable scientists to decipher the tree of life as never before.

The fossil record is now one of the strongest lines of evidence for evolution. In this engaging and richly illustrated book, Donald R. Prothero weaves an entertaining though intellectually rigorous history out of the transitional forms and series that dot the fossil record. Beginning with a brief discussion of the nature of science and the "monkey business of creationism," Prothero tackles subjects ranging from flood geology and rock dating to neo-Darwinism and macroevolution. He covers the ingredients of the primordial soup, the effects of communal living, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, the mammalian explosion, and the leap from chimpanzee to human. Prothero pays particular attention to the recent discovery of "missing links" that complete the fossil timeline and details the debate between biologists over the mechanisms driving the evolutionary process.

Evolution is an absorbing combination of firsthand observation, scientific discovery, and trenchant analysis. With the teaching of evolution still an issue, there couldn't be a better moment for a book clarifying the nature and value of fossil evidence. Widely recognized as a leading expert in his field, Prothero demonstrates that the transformation of life on this planet is far more awe inspiring than the narrow view of extremists.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Prothero, a geologist at Occidental College (After the Dinosaurs), explains how rich the fossil record has become. His goal is two-fold. First, he wants to demonstrate the wide variety of transitional forms that have been found, many within the past 20 years. Second, he aims to discredit the creationist movement. "I have tried to document how they routinely distort or deny the evidence, quote out of context, and do many other dishonest and unethical things-all in the name of pushing their crusade." He accomplishes both of his goals (though he can be repetitious regarding the creationists), and his descriptions of recent research, much of it his own, are compelling. Prothero explains that the Cambrian explosion of life forms was anything but an explosion, and presents the impressive transitional fossils between reptiles and birds, along with striking evidence for mammalian evolution, including the relationship among hominid groups. With good science and some specific rebuttals to creationist arguments, this book demonstrates the importance of paleontology to the study of evolution. 208 illus. (Nov.)

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Fossil News - Greg Sweatt
A must read...Brilliant and masterfully researched.

Guelph Mercury - Christopher diCarlo
This is one of the best books of its kind.

Reports of the National Center for Science Education - Peter Dodson
The book is very valuable as a demonstration of the quality of the fossil record, which has improved dramatically in the past decade.

Fossil News
A must read...Brilliant and masterfully researched.

— Greg Sweatt

CHOICE
Engagingly written and scientifically accurate... Highly recommended.

Guelph Mercury

This is one of the best books of its kind.

— Christopher diCarlo

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
The book is very valuable as a demonstration of the quality of the fossil record, which has improved dramatically in the past decade.

— Peter Dodson

Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie
(T)o anyone who wishes to be informed on our current knowledge about fossils and their interpretation, and for anyone who is still not so sure whom to believe, this book will straighten things out and will be an unforgettable reading experience.

Choice
Engagingly written and scientifically accurate... Highly recommended.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231511421
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
11/22/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
408
File size:
30 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

Bruce Lieberman

This is a wonderful book that beautifully explains in layperson's terms the vast evidence for evolution in the paleontological record. Its publication comes at a critical time. By concentrating the diverse scientific literature into numerous lucid examples, Donald R. Prothero does the fields of geology, biology, and science education a major service. He provides a unique source that will be invaluable to college professors and high school teachers alike, and because his book provides abundant, clearly described examples of evolution in the fossil record, and also synthesizes important information about the Bible, it will make a valuable addition to any scientist's library.

Bruce Lieberman, the University of Kansas

Michael Shermer

Donald R. Prothero is not only one of the leading evolutionary scientists of our time, he writes with clarity and his prose sparkles. Prothero's book is more thorough and comprehensive than any other book for the general public on the evolution versus creationism controversy.

Michael Shermer, Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design

Guelph Mercury
This is one of the best books of its kind.

— Christopher diCarlo

Meet the Author

Donald R. Prothero is professor of geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and lecturer in geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. A fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnaean Society of London, Prothero is on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation. In 1991 he received the Schuchert Award for outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40. He is the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 22 books and over 200 scientific papers, and his titles for Columbia University Press are From Greenhouse to Icehouse and The Eocene-Oligocene Transition.

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