Vertebrate Palaeontology

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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; ...
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Overview

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.

"...presents a complete outline of the history of the vertebrates, based on the latest studies by paleontologists around the world and includes a new chapter on how to study fossil vertebrates."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book is a 'must' for a biology or geology student and researcher concerned by palaeontology. It perfectly succeeds in showing how palaeobiological information is obtained." (Zentrallblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie, 2007)

"This fine textbook by Michael Benton (Department of Geology University of Bristol) sets the standard in the field - a well-developed and wonderfully researched book that will serve the student community in the study of Palaeontology for years to come." (Electric Review.Net, September 2004)

"This is the third edition of a very long running (1990) and highly successful textbook in the field of vertebrate palaeontology...an invaluable aid to those who wish to know more about vertebrate fossils. There are plenty of well-drawn labelled diagrams. The text is clear and the book superbly planned and ordered...A classic textbook..." (Down to Earth, December 2004)

[The] simple language and general attitude make it accessible even to readers not familiar with paleontology at all. ...the author has succeeded in making it as comprehensive as possible in respect to such complex factual material. In few other books is the biological diversity of vertebrates presented in such an elegant and precise manner.... These parts of the book impressively show the unusual extent of the author's knowledge. Michael Benton is an expert on the early evolution of dinosaurs, but his expertise in a range of problems of vertebrate paleontology is astonishing... No doubt that Michael Benton's professional review of the evolution of the most complex of animals has to be placed high on the evolutionary tree of university textbooks. There is probably no better, more comprehensive and up-to-date source..."
(Journal of Sedimentary Research, March 2005)

"...a textbook aimed at enthusiasts and undergraduates...it is well laid out and the clear narrative style makes it accessible and easily read. I am sure anyone who wishes to learn more about the history of vertebrates will find it a very useful and informative book with much of interest to be gleaned." (Glasgow Naturalist, June 2006)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780045660018
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/1990
  • Pages: 246

Meet the Author

Michael J. Benton FRS is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol. He is particularly interested in early reptiles, Triassic dinosaurs, and macroevolution, and has published over 50 books and 300 scientific articles. He leads one of the most successful palaeontology research groups at the University of Bristol, and has supervised over 60 PhD students.
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Table of Contents

1 Vertebrate origin 1
2 How to study fossil vertebrates 16
3 Early Palaeozoic fishes 38
4 The early tetrapods and amphibians 74
5 The evolution of early amniotes 106
6 Tetrapods of the Triassic 136
7 The evolution of fishes after the Devonian 158
8 The age of dinosaurs 187
9 The birds 256
10 The mammals 288
11 Human evolution 363
App Classification of the vertebrates 389
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