The heart of Fossil Snakes of North America consists of detailed systematic accounts of the known fossil snakes of North America and the localities where they occur. Extinct fossil taxa are discussed and illustrated and many are redescribed on the basis of new information. Illustrations of diagnostic vertebrae and criteria for the identification of presently living fossil snake taxa are given as well as the modern characteristics and ranges of these species.
2. Systematic Accounts
3. Fossil Localities
4. Evolutionary, Zoogeographic, and Paleoecological Patterns
J. Alan Holman (1931-2006) was Professor and Curator Emeritus at Michigan State University. Holman wrote seven books and authored more than 260 publications in paleoherpetology, herpetology, and vertebrate paleontology. He was awarded an Honorary Lifetime membership in the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and was considered the leading authority on new World fossil snakes.
"Knowledge of fossils provides helpful information about evolution and diversification of groups of animals. Holman (emer., Michigan State Univ.) looks at one such group that gets little attention in the media. But it is only through study of all fossils that a strong picture of the environmental history of vertebrates may be learned. Holman has devoted his career to studying, describing, and placing in a broad paleontologic perspective fossil snakes and their respective recent descendants. Although many snakes are small, they often leave a large number of bones to fossilize, especially vertebrae. This comprehensive review is the first effort to bring together a large literature on North American snakes. Most of the book is focused on snake systematics, providing modified descriptions, locality data, generic and specific diagnoses, and notes on adaptation, relationships, etc. Another chapter presents in geologic sequence and within each sequence, geographic distribution of the localities at which North American snakes have been found. A final section concerns evolutionary and ecological patterns, with greatest emphasis on development of Pleistocene and Recent distributions. Nearly 20 pages of references; general and site index; nearly 50 color plates of living snakes represented as fossils. An essential tool for paleontologists and herpetologists. Faculty; professionals."
– D. Bardack, emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago, Choice, November 2000