Perhaps nudged over the evolutionary cliff by a giant boloid striking the earth, the incredible and fascinating group of animals called dinosaurs became extinct some 65 million years ago (except for their feathered descendants). In their place evolved an enormous variety of land creatures, especially the mammals, which in their way were every bit as remarkable as their Mesozoic cousins.
The Age of Mammals, the Cenozoic Era, has never had its Jurassic Park, but it was an amazing time in earth's history, populated by a wonderful assortment of bizarre animals. The rapid evolution of thousands of species of mammals brought forth gigantic hornless rhinos, sabertooth cats, mastodonts and mammoths, and many other creatures – including our own ancestors.
Their story is part of a larger story of a world emerging from the greenhouse conditions of the Mesozoic, warming up dramatically about 55 million years ago, and then cooling rapidly so that 33 million years ago the glacial ice returned. The earth's vegetation went through equally dramatic changes, from tropical jungles in Montana and forests at the poles, to grasslands and savannas across the entire world. Life in the sea also underwent striking evolution reflecting global climate change, including the emergence of such creatures as giant sharks, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales.
After the Dinosaurs is a book for everyone who has an abiding fascination with the remarkable life of the past.
"Recommended. General readers; interested upper – level undergraduates through faculty/researchers."
"[...] Prothero's new book has the advantage of something for everyone [...] A specialist can read it for a fine overview of many aspects of life throughout the age of mammals; a general reader will get the same overview, plus an introduction to a great many new topics to research further. This is about the most readable volume imaginable [...] "
– Reports of the National Center for Science Education
2. The End of the Dinosaurs?
3. Brave New World: The Paleocene
4. Dawn of the Recent: The Eocene
5. The Icehouse Cometh: The Oligocene
6. The Savanna Story: The Miocene
7. The World in Transition: The Pliocene
8. Ice Time: The Pleistocene
9. Our Interglacial: The Holocene
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Recipient of the 2013 James Shea Award of the National Association of Geology Teachers for outstanding writing and editing in the geosciences.
Donald R. Prothero is Emeritus Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He has published 32 books, including Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (IU Press, 2013); Rhinoceros Giants: The Paleobiology of Indricotheres; Earth: Portrait of a Planet; The Evolution of Earth; Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters; Catastrophes!; and After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals (IU Press, 2006).