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Vertebrate Palaeontology / Edition 3

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Vertebrate Palaeontology is a complete, up-to-date history of the evolution of vertebrates. The third edition of this popular text has been extensively revised to incorporate the latest research, including new material from North and South America, Australia, Europe, China, Africa and Russia.

  • Highlights astonishing new discoveries including new dinosaurs and Mesozoic birds from China
  • features a new chapter on how to study fossil vertebrates
  • provides an increased emphasis on the cladistic framework with cladograms set apart from the body of the text and full lists of diagnostic characters
  • includes new molecular evidence on early mammal diversification
  • new features aid study including new functional and developmental feature spreads, key questions and extensive references to useful web sites
  • strong phylogenetic focus making it an up-to-date source of the latest broad-scale systematic data on vertebrate evolution

To access the artwork from the book, please visit:

An Instructor manual CD-ROM for this title is available. Please contact our Higher Education team at for more information.

"...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 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 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: 9780632056378
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 12/28/2004
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 472
  • Sales rank: 1,207,058
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
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Table of Contents

1. Vertebrate Origins:.

Key Questions.


Sea Squirts And The Lancelet.

Phylum Hemichordata: Pterobranchs And Acorn Worms.

Deuterostome Relationships.

Chordate Origins.

Vertebrates And The Head.

Further Reading.

2. How To Study Fossil Vertebrates:.

Key Questions.


Digging Up Bones.

Geology And Fossil Vertebrates.

Biology And Fossil Vertebrates.

Discovering Phylogeny.

The Quality Of The Fossil Record.

Further Reading.

3. Early Fishes:.

Key Questions.


Cambrian Vertebrates.

Vertebrate Hard Tissues.

The Jawless Fishes.

Origin Of Jaws And Gnathostome Relationships.

Class Placodermi: Armour-Plated Monsters.

Class Chondrichthyes: The First Sharks.

Class Acanthodii: The ‘Spiny Skins’.

Devonian Environments.

Class Osteichthyes: The Bony Fishes.

Early Fish Evolution And Mass Extinction.

Further Reading.

4. The Early Tetrapods And Amphibians:.

Key Questions.


Problems Of Life On Land.

Devonian Tetrapods.

The Carboniferous World.

Diversity Of Carboniferous Tetrapods.

Temnospondyls And Reptiliomorphs After The Carboniferous.

Evolution Of Modern Amphibians.

Further Reading.

5. The Evolution Of Early Amniotes:.

Key Questions.


Hylonomus And Paleothyris – Biology Of The First Amniotes.

Amniote Evolution.

The Permian World.

The Early Evolution Of Anapsids And Diapsids.

Basal Synapsid Evolution.

Mass Extinction.

Further Reading.

6. Reptiles Of The Triassic:.

Key Questions.


The Triassic Scene.

Evolution Of The Archosauromorphs.

In Triassic Seas.

The Origin Of The Dinosaurs.

Further Reading.

7. The Evolution Of Fishes After The Devonian:.

Key Questions.


The Early Sharks And Chimaeras.

Post-Palaeozoic Chondrichthyan Radiation.

The Early Bony Fishes.

Radiation Of The Teleosts.

Post-Devonian Evolution Of Fishes.

Further Reading.

8. The Age Of Dinosaurs:.

Key Questions.


Biology Of Plateosaurus.

The Jurassic And Cretaceous World.

The Diversity Of Saurischian Dinosaurs.

The Diversity Of Ornithischian Dinosaurs.

Were The Dinosaurs Warm-Blooded Or Not?.

Order Terosauria.

Order Testudines: The Turtles.

Order Crocodylia.

Superorder Lepidosauria.

The Great Sea Dragons.

Diversification Of Jurassic–Cretaceous Reptiles.

The KT Event.

Further Reading.

9. The Birds:.

Key Questions.



The Origin Of Bird Flight.

Toothed Birds Of The Cretaceous.

The Radiation Of Modern Birds.

Flightless Birds: Division Palaeognathae.

Division Neognathae.

Diversification Of The Birds.

Further Reading.

10. The Mammals:.

Key Questions.


Cynodonts And The Acquisition Of Mammalian Characters.

The First Mammals.

The Mesozoic Mammals.

The Marsupials.

South American Mammals – Another World Apart.

The Afrotheria And Break-Up Of Gondwana.

The Beginning Of The Age Of Placental Mammals.

Basal Laurasiatherians: Insectivores And Bats.

Superorder Cetartiodactyla: Cattle, Pigs And Whales.

Order Perissodactyla: Grazers And Browsers.

Orders Carnivora And Pholidota.

Superorder Archonta: Primates, Tree Shrews And Flying Lemurs.

Superorder Glires: Rodents, Rabbits And Relatives.

Ice Age Extinction Of Large Mammals.

The Pattern Of Mammalian Evolution.

Further Reading.

11. Human Evolution:.

Key Questions.


What Are The Primates?.

The Early Fossil Record Of Primates.

Superfamily Hominoidea: The Apes.

Evolution Of Human Characteristics.

The Early Stages Of Human Evolution.

The Last Two Million Years Of Human Evolution.

Further Reading.

Appendix: Classification Of The Vertebrates.




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