Michael Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol. He is interested particularly in early reptiles, Triassic dinosaurs and macroevolution, and has published 50 books and 160 scientific articles.
Vertebrate Palaeontologyby Michael J. Benton
The story of the evolution of the vertebrates is fascinating. Currently, there is an explosion of new research ideas in the field: the closest fossil relatives of the vertebrates; dramatic new fish specimens unlike anything now living; the adaptations required for the move on to land; the relationships of the early amphibians and reptiles; the origins and biology of the dinosaurs; the role of mass extinction in vertebrate evolution; new Mesozoic birds; the earliest mammals; ecology and mammalian diversification; and the origins and evolution of humans. Vertebrate Palaeontology presents a complete outline of the history of the vertebrates, based on the latest studies by palaeontologists around the world. The work is international in scope, and new material included here for the first time comes from North and South America, Australia, Europe, China, Africa and Russia.
A key aim of the book is to show how vertebrate palaeontologists obtain their information. There is an illustrated account of how to dig up a dinosaur and how to interpret the bones. In addition, detailed case studies are presented which show how palaeontologists study taphonomy, exceptional preservation, form and function of bizarre animals and reconstruct phylogeny from cladistic analyses of morphological and molecular data. This new edition is extensively revised to include a great deal of material derived from work done in the 1990s. There is a new chapter on how to study fossil vertebrates and more emphasis is given to cladograms including full lists of diagnostic characters.
Vertebrate Palaeontology is designed for palaeontology courses given by biology and geology departments. It is also aimed at the enthusiast who wants to experience the real flavour of how leading palaeontologists design their research programmes and carry out multidisciplinary studies of ancient vertebrates. The book has a strongly phylogenetic focus making it an up-to-date source of the latest broad-scale systematic data on vertebrate evolution.
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