What can we learn about the evolution of jaws from a pair of scissors? How does the flight of a tennis ball help explain how fish overcome drag? What do a spacesuit and a chicken egg have in common? Highlighting the fascinating twists and turns of evolution across more than 540 million years, paleobiologist Matthew Bonnan uses everyday objects to explain the emergence and adaptation of the vertebrate skeleton. What can camera lenses tell us about the eyes of marine reptiles? How does understanding what prevents a coffee mug from spilling help us understand the posture of dinosaurs?
The answers to these and other intriguing questions illustrate how scientists have pieced together the history of vertebrates from their bare bones. With its engaging and informative text, plus more than 200 illustrative diagrams created by the author, The Bare Bones is an unconventional and reader-friendly introduction to the skeleton as an evolving machine.
"Bonnan combines wit and passion with the sensibilities of a talented instructor in this encyclopedic tour of the vertebrate skeleton [...] accessible even for those without a background in anatomy."
– Publishers Weekly
"A clear, largely jargon-free retelling of one of the greatest stories in evolution – the rise of vertebrates – that should have broad appeal. It integrates the facts and principles that underlie evolutionary theory by taking a common-sense approach that doesn't talk down to the reader."
– Nicholas Geist, Sonoma State University
Part One: Setting the Stage
Chapter 1. Introduction: How Vertebrates and Cars Are (and Are Not) Similar
Chapter 2. Evolution to Deep Time, Pedigree to Anatomy
Part Two: The Origin and Early Evolution of the Vertebrate Chassis
Chapter 3. Inferring the Basic Vertebrate Chassis
Chapter 4. Evolution of a Bony Chassis
Part Three: The Evolution of the Jawed Vertebrate Chassis and Something Fishy
Chapter 5. The Jawed Vertebrate Chassis: A Primer
Chapter 6. Placoderms and Cartilaginous Fishes
Chapter 7. The Fish-like Osteichthyes, Part 1
Chapter 8. The Fish-like Osteichthyes, Part 2
Part Four: The Vertebrate Chassis Moves to Land
Chapter 9. The Tetrapod Chassis: A Primer
Chapter 10. The Tetrapod Chassis in Transition
Chapter 11. The Amphibian Chassis
Chapter 12. The Amniote Chassis: A Primer and the Lead Up to True Amniotes
Part Five: Deep Scaly I: Reptilian Chasses from Early Reptiles to Sea Monsters
Chapter 13. Lizards and the Tuatara as an Introduction
Chapter 14. Early Reptiles and Turtles
Chapter 15. Snakes and Sea Dragons
Part Six: Deep Scaly II: The Archosaur Chassis, Those Ruling Reptiles
Chapter 16. The Archosaur Chassis, Part 1: Modern Archosaurs
Chapter 17. The Archosaur Chassis, Part 2: A Primer on Archosaur Posture and Diversity
Chapter 18. The Archosaur Chassis, Part 3: Pterosaurs, Dinosaurs, and the Origins of Birds
Part Seven: Overcome By Fur: The Mammalian Chassis
Chapter 19. The Mammalian Chassis: A Primer
Chapter 20. The Evolution of the Mammal Chassis
Chapter 21. Brains, Milk, and the Modern Radiations of Mammals
Appendix: The Cards of Time
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Matthew F. Bonnan is a Vertebrate Paleontologist and Associate Professor of Biology at Stockton University. Bonnan's research focuses on the evolution of locomotion in sauropod dinosaurs and the functional morphology of forelimb posture in reptiles, birds, and mammals using traditional anatomy and computer-aided modeling.