This volume presents an array of different case studies which take as primary material data sourced from the NOW ('New and Old Worlds') database of fossil mammals. The NOW database was one of the very first large palaeobiological databases, and since 1996 it has been expanded from including mainly Neogene European land mammals to cover the entire Cenozoic at a global scale. In the last two decades, the number of works that are based on the use of huge databases to explore ecological and evolutionary questions has increased exponentially, and even though the importance of big data in palaeobiological research has been outlined in selected chapters of general works, no volume has appeared before this one which solely focuses on the databases as a primary source in reconstructing the past. The purpose of this book is to provide an illustrative volume showing the importance of big data in palaeobiological research, and presenting a broad array of unpublished examples and case studies. The book is mainly aimed at professional palaeobiologists working with Cenozoic land mammals, but the scope of the book is broad enough to fit the interest of evolutionary biologists, palaeoclimatologists and palaeoecologists.
The volume is divided into four parts. The first part includes two chapters on the development of large palaeobiological databases, providing a first-hand account of the logic and the functioning of these databases. This is a much-needed perspective which is ignored by most researchers and users of such databases and, even if centred on the NOW database, the lessons that can be learned from this part can be extended to other examples. After this introductory part, the body of the book follows and is divided into three parts: patterns in regional faunas; large-scale patterns and processes; and ecological, biogeographical and evolutionary patterns of key taxa. Each chapter is written by well-known specialists in the field, with some participation from members of the NOW advisory board. The array of selected mammal taxa ranges from carnivores, equids, ruminants and rodents to the genus Homo. The topics studied also include the diversification and radiation of major clades, large-scale palaeobiogeographical patterns, the evolution of ecomorphological patterns and palaeobiological problems such as the evolution of body size or species longevity. In most cases, the results are discussed in relation to protracted environmental or palaeogeographic changes.
Chapter 1.- History of the NOW
Chapter 2.- The NOW now
Chapter 3.- The Siwaliks: A Miocene terrestrial record densely sampled at age resolution of 105 years
Chapter 4.- Evolution of Western Asian mammal communities in the Miocene
Chapter 5.- The fall of the Pikermian paleobiome at the crossroads of the European-Asian-African continents
Chapter 6.- Islands in Transition: Changes in Mammalian Communities on Africa and South America
Chapter 7.- Environmental change and body size evolution in Neogene large mammals of Europe and North America
Chapter 8.- Body mass effects to the mammalian Niche Exploitation Profiles and to the predictions of Climate and Seasonality of Tropical Extant and Palaeo-habitats
Chapter 9.- The mouse is dead, long live the mouse (Patterns of longevity in small mammals)
Chapter 10.- How often do mammalian species of the same genus co-occur in the fossil record and today?
Chapter 11.- Cut not shaven, the use of filters in processing data
Chapter 12.- The effects of NOW data quality, including regional and temporal differences, on evolutionary analysis; examples from studies on large Neogene carnivore families
Chapter 13.- Asynchroneity in the evolution of New World and Old World hypsodont Equidae
Chapter 14.- Muskdeer on the run - Dispersal of Moschidae in the context of environmental changes
Chapter 15.- Late Neogene Western Eurasian bovid palaeocommunities
Chapter 16.- New giraffid determinations for the faunas of Pikermi, Samos and Maragheh
Chapter 17.- Regional topography and climate influence the nature and timing of changes in the structure of rodent and lagomorph communities through the Cenozoic of North America
Chapter 18.- Diet and locomotor trends in rodents during Cenozoic global cooling
Chapter 19.- Using diachronic biogeographic patterns of mammalian dispersals between Africa and Eurasia to infer about tempo and mode of the dispersal of the genus Homo.
Dr Isaac Casanovas-Vilar is Head of the Paleoecology & Biochronology Research Group in the Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Paleontology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Dr Lars W. van den Hoek Ostende is a Researcher for the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden.Dr Christine M. Janis is a Professor of Paleontology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. Dr Juha Saarinen is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Division of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki.