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Embryos in Deep Time: The Rock Record of Biological Development

By: Marcelo R Sánchez-Villagra(Author)

256 pages, 16 b/w photos, 35 b/w illustrations

University of California Press

Hardback | Apr 2012 | #198084 | ISBN-13: 9780520271937
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £65.99 $87/€75 approx

About this book

How can we bring together the study of genes, embryos and fossils? Embryos in Deep Time is a critical synthesis of the study of individual development in fossils. It brings together an up-to-date review of concepts from comparative anatomy, ecology and developmental genetics, and examples of different kinds of animals from diverse geological epochs and geographic areas. Can fossil embryos demonstrate evolutionary changes in reproductive modes? How have changes in ocean chemistry in the past affected the development of marine organisms? What can the microstructure of fossil bone and teeth reveal about maturation time, longevity and changes in growth phases?

Embryos in Deep Time addresses these and other issues and documents with numerous examples and illustrations how fossils provide evidence not only of adult anatomy but also of the life history of individuals at different growth stages. The central topic of Biology today – the transformations occurring during the life of an organism and the mechanisms behind them – is addressed in an integrative manner for extinct animals.

"An original thinker, who can put it all together."
Acta Zoologica

"Together with a colorful definition of the role of paleontology in the context of understanding the evolution of developmental processes, Sánchez presents a comprehensive summary of cutting-edge evolutionary research in an academically rigorous but refreshingly accessible manner."
Developmental Dynamics

"A light-hearted [...] narrative integrating some of the treasures of paleontology."
Evolution & Development

"A captivating account of what the fossil record can say about development."
Trends In Ecology & Evolution


"One of the few remaining frontiers in evolutionary biology is the integration of the fossil record with our newly gained understanding of developmental evolution. Few have the boldness to seriously venture into this poorly mapped scientific landscape. With this book, Marcelo Sánchez is setting up a camp there for coming generations of students who shall be able to explore the wilderness of this unsettled and unsettling intellectual territory."
– Günter P. Wagner, Yale University

"With feet firmly planted in the fossil record, paleontologist Marcelo Sánchez asks what can be learned about the development of fossils, and development in general, from the paleontological record. This wide-ranging book is ideal for those curious about fossils, evolution, and development."
– Charles R. Marshall, University of California Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley



1. Fossils, Ontogeny, and Phylogeny
2. Evo-Devo, Plasticity, and Modules
3. Fossilized Vertebrate Ontogenies
4. Bones and Teeth under the Microscope
5. Proportions, Growth, and Taxonomy
6. Growth and Diversification Patterns
7. Fossils and Developmental Genetics
8. "Missing Links" and the Evolution of Development
9. Mammalian and Human Development
10. On Trilobites, Shells, and Bugs

Epilogue: Is There a Moral to Developmental Paleontology?

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Dr. Marcelo Sánchez is an Assistant Professor for Paleontology at the Paläontologisches Institut und Museum der Universitat Zürich.

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