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Introductory book which analyses evidence from biology and geology in order to describe and interpret how fossils are used in understanding biological evolution. It reviews the main ideas, methodology and scope of contemporary palaeobiology, rather than providing a detailed factual analysis of the subject. It addresses the issue of how evolutionary theory is necessary for interpretation of the fossil record, and yet how fossils themselves can contribute to evolutionary theory.
Contents: Introduction; Some fundamental ideas; Evolutionary theory: Analysing process; Taxonomy: Analysing pattern; Incompleteness and what to do about it; Fossils and phylogeny: If only we had more fossils; Speciation: gradual, punctuated, or what?; Rules and laws of taxonomic turnover: are there any?; Mass extinctions: resetting the evolutionary clock; The origin of new higher taxa: the ultimate question; Epilogue: Where next?