Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity

Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity

by Peter S. Ungar
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Midland Naturalist - Matthew J. Ravosa
Mammal Teeth is a highly valuable contribution to recent literature on the important subject of dental morphology and evolution.

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology - Ian Corfe
A superb reference book for anyone with an interest in the subject... I wholeheartedly recommend the purchase of Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity to anyone with an interest in dental morphology and the teeth of mammals.

Bioscience - Alistair Evans
Ungar's book is a superb overview of the field of dental morphology, structured in an easily accessible format. Mammal Teeth is an outstanding and valuable resource for the novice or student starting out in the field, and it can also be used successfully as a reference for professional biologists or odontologists.

Quarterly Review of Biology - Hans-Dieter Sues
An invaluable reference on this fascinating subject for readers at all levels.

Journal of Mammalian Evolution - John P. Hunter
Mammal Teeth is an impressive work, both for its scholarship and clear, often entertaining presentation... Mammal Teeth is a must-have for vertebrate paleontologists, physical anthropologists, and mammalogists interested in morphology, the biomechanics of chewing, and feeding ecology. Students will find Mammal Teeth especially useful as a point-of-entry into the literature on mammalian teeth.

Choice
In this wonderful volume, anthropologist-paleontologist Ungar provides the most complete source available (or imaginable) on the subject... Highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review
A pick for any college-level collection strong in natural history.

Bioscience
Mammal Teeth is an outstanding and valuable resource for the novice or student starting out in the field, and it can also be used successfully as a reference for professional biologists or odontologists.

— Alistair Evans

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
A superb reference book for anyone with an interest in the subject... I wholeheartedly recommend the purchase of Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity to anyone with an interest in dental morphology and the teeth of mammals.

— Ian Corfe

Quarterly Review of Biology
An invaluable reference on this fascinating subject for readers at all levels.

— Hans-Dieter Sues

Library Journal
In this work, Ungar (anthropology, Univ. of Arkansas) focuses primarily on how teeth have evolved to extract the most nutrients out of food sources but also examines microwear patterns to determine ancient diets. While there are similar books, this work thoroughly considers teeth across multiple species and provides in-depth analyses of teeth and jaw structures and function. Readers will further understand the complexity of examining teeth evolution; for example, phylogenetic contexts are extremely important to note, as species such as lemurs and giant pandas both eat bamboo, but their teeth design, jaw alignment, and structure are completely different. In this technical resource, graphs, photos, and illustrations augment the points made in the text. With three main sections (key terms/concepts, evolution, and current teeth) and 13 chapters, the organization enables readers unfamiliar with the topic to gain a good understanding of the discussions. VERDICT Highly recommended for academic libraries and public/special libraries with anthropology and/or natural history collections. This is also accessible to lay readers.—Sarah Statz Cords, The Reader's Advisor Online

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801896682
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
08/31/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are saying about this

Christopher Dean
Food processing is fundamental to the way animals meet the energy requirements of life. Peter Ungar captures several fundamental aspects of how animals do this—by growing teeth with such exquisitely adapted physical and structural properties and with such a diversity of size and shape! Never has this subject been better captured.

Tom S. Kemp
Nothing about mammals makes sense except in the light of their teeth! In this impressive, comprehensive volume Peter Ungar explores every aspect of mammalian teeth—their evolutionary origin, histology, development, and fundamental physiological role in fueling a high-energy, endothermic lifestyle. Ungar explains how teeth allow high-resolution tracking of 200 million years of mammalian radiation, thanks to the fortuitous combination of their fossilizability and their relationship to trophic biology. No mammalogist, paleontological or neontological, will want to be without this excellent work.

Meet the Author

Peter S. Ungar is Distinguished Professor and chair of anthropology at the University of Arkansas.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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