Exciting paleo-science is happening – we are witnessing a revolution. Our knowledge of evolution's transformational mechanisms is fundamentally shifting. As new ancient vertebrates discoveries fill gaps in the fossil record, the traditionally recognized differences between principal groups of vertebrates are being redefined.
The transition between major groups of vertebrates was an early stumbling block to in proving evolutionary theory. Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution surveys the new information about fossils and developments enriching our understanding of vertebrates' long and complex history. In recent years, major discoveries and hotly contested theories of macro-evolutionary mechanisms have held center stage in evolutionary thought. These important, radical changes affect our understanding of the vertebrates' evolutionary history – including the evolution of our own species.
" [...] This book is an outstanding contribution to evolutionary biology and paleontology [...] Essential."
"The topic is one of the most fascinating aspects of the general field of vertebrate paleobiology. The range of chapters and the reputation of the authors as experts in their fields make this a significant contribution."
– Bruce MacFadden, Florida Museum of Natural History
"Very topical, particularly from an evo-devo perspective. The authors are top-notch, each appropriate to the topics under consideration."
– David S. Weishampel, Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University
" [...] this is a useful volume – the individual chapters offer a combination of reviews and important new data that will interest an audience that should extend beyond vertebrate palaeontology to zoologists and evolutionary biologists."
– Paul M. Barrett, Geological Magazine, 2009
" [...] the volume as a whole offers a good deal more than just overviews of new fossils, namely a window into the contemporary Zeitgeist of vertebrate palaeontology itself [...] Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution reviews the rapidly growing knowledge in several of the most pertinent cases, and it also epitomises much that is good about the present state of the art."
– T.S. Kemp, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 157, 2009
"[This] book is a fine snapshot of current research on vertebrate macroevolution."
– The Systematist, 2010 No. 31
Introduction: Studying Evolutionary Transitions among Vertebrates Hans-Dieter Sues and Jason S. Anderson
1. Plasticity of and Transitions between Skeletal Tissues in Vertebrate Evolution and Development Brian K. Hall and P. Eckard Witten
2. Homologies and Evolutionary Transitions in Early Vertebrate History Philippe Janvier
3. Paired Fins of Jawless Vertebrates and Their Homologies across the "Agnathan"-Gnathostome Transition Mark V. H. Wilson, Gavin F. Hanke, and Tiiu Märss
4. MODEs of Developmental Evolution: An Example with the Origin and Definition of the Autopodium Hans C. E. Larsson
5. Incorporating Ontogeny into the Matrix: A Phylogenetic Evaluation of Developmental Evidence for the Origin of Modern Amphibians Jason S. Anderson
6. The Cranial Anatomy of Basal Diadectomorphs and the Origin of Amniotes Robert R. Reisz
7. Snake Phylogeny, Origins, and Evolution: The Role, Impact, and Importance of Fossils (1869 – 2006) Michael W. Caldwell
8. The Beginnings of Birds: Recent Discoveries, Ongoing Arguments, and New Directions Luis M. Chiappe and Gareth J. Dyke
9. Successive Diversifications in Early Mammalian Evolution Zhe-Xi Luo
10. The Terrestrial to Aquatic Transition in Cetacea Mark D. Uhen
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Jason S. Anderson is a vertebrate paleontologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Paleontology.
Hans-Dieter Sues is a vertebrate paleontologist and Associate Director for Research and Collections, National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.