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Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution

By: Kenneth P Dial(Editor), Neil Shubin(Editor), Elizabeth L Brainerd(Editor)

424 pages, 68 colour photos and illustrations, 62 b/w photos, 14 b/w illustrations, 12 tables

University of Chicago Press

Hardback | no dustjacket | Sep 2015 | #224369 | ISBN-13: 9780226268118
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £94.50 $123/€108 approx
Paperback | Sep 2015 | #224370 | ISBN-13: 9780226268255
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £33.99 $44/€39 approx

About this book

How did flying birds evolve from running dinosaurs, terrestrial trotting tetrapods evolve from swimming fish, and whales return to swim in the sea? These are some of the great transformations in the 500-million-year history of vertebrate life. And with the aid of new techniques and approaches across a range of fields – work spanning multiple levels of biological organization from DNA sequences to organs and the physiology and ecology of whole organisms – we are now beginning to unravel the confounding evolutionary mysteries contained in the structure, genes, and fossil record of every living species.

Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution gathers a diverse team of renowned scientists to capture the excitement of these new discoveries in a collection that is both accessible to students and an important contribution to the future of its field. Marshaling a range of disciplines – from paleobiology to phylogenetics, developmental biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology – the contributors attack particular transformations in the head and neck, trunk, appendages such as fins and limbs, and the whole body, as well as offer synthetic perspectives. Illustrated throughout, Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution not only reveals the true origins of whales with legs, fish with elbows, wrists, and necks, and feathered dinosaurs, but also the relevance to our lives today of these extraordinary narratives of change.

"A well-crafted, intelligent, and probing series of papers by leading experts addressing the latest advances in the big transformations in our evolutionary history. This book will enthral anyone interested in learning about the big changes in our deep, distant evolution from fishes to land animals, the origins of reptiles, birds, and mammals, and how cutting-edge multidisciplinary approaches are used to solve evolutionary problems."
– John A. Long, president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, vice president of the Royal Society of South Australia, author of The Dawn of the Deed: The Prehistoric Origins of Sex

"This book honors the great Farish A. Jenkins Jr., who studied macroevolutionary transitions in vertebrates by combining a wealth of data from fossils, dissections, experimental analyses of behavior, evolutionary data, and more to reconstruct major changes in form and function, with a strong biological focus. Jenkins was so innovative, so big-question-oriented, and so influential that a book dedicated to him and the kinds of questions in which he was interested is not just appropriate, but essential. The book is timely, summarizing and giving new perspectives on the greatest transitions in vertebrate evolution. The questions are huge. The authors are simply the best in the field. A landmark work from a star-studded cast of scientists."
– John Hutchinson, Royal Veterinary College, University of London

"This book will be of broad general interest to vertebrate biologists, indispensable for vertebrate functional and evolutionary morphologists, and essential reading for the next generation of vertebrate organismal biologists. The editors have done an enormous service to the field by collecting these thorough, incisive papers. One feels extremely invigorated and excited about what might be done next. Great Transformations will exert a strong impact on research agendas."
– Michael Alfaro, University of California, Los Angeles



Part I Origins and Transformations
1 Origin of the Vertebrate Dentition: Teeth Transform Jaws into a Biting Force
Moya Meredith Smith and Zerina Johanson

2 Flexible Fins and Fin Rays as Key Transformations in Ray-Finned Fishes
George V. Lauder

3 Major Transformations in Vertebrate Breathing Mechanisms
Elizabeth L. Brainerd

4 Origin of the Tetrapod Neck and Shoulder
Neil Shubin, Edward B. Daeschler, and Farish A. Jenkins Jr.

5 Origin of the Turtle Body Plan
Ann Campbell Burke

6 Anatomical Transformations and Respiratory Innovations of the Archosaur Trunk
Leon Claessens

7 Evolution of Hind Limb Posture in Triassic Archosauriforms
Corwin Sullivan

8 Fossils, Trackways, and Transitions in Locomotion: A Case Study of Dimetrodon
James A. Hopson

9 Respiratory Turbinates and the Evolution of Endothermy in Mammals and Birds
Tomasz Owerkowicz, Catherine Musinsky, Kevin M. Middleton, and A. W. Crompton
10 Origin of the Mammalian Shoulder
Zhe-Xi Luo

11 Evolution of the Mammalian Nose
A.W. Crompton, Catherine Musinsky, and Tomasz Owerkowicz

12 Placental Evolution in Therian Mammals
Kathleen K. Smith

13 Going from Small to Large: Mechanical Implications of Body Size Diversity in Terrestrial Mammals
Andrew A. Biewener

14 Evolution of Whales from Land to Sea
Philip D. Gingerich

15 Major Transformations in the Evolution of Primate Locomotion
John G. Fleagle and Daniel E. Lieberman

Part II Perspectives and Approaches
16 Ontogenetic and Evolutionary Transformations: Ecological Significance of Rudimentary Structures
Kenneth P. Dial, Ashley M. Heers, and Terry R. Dial

17 Skeletons in Motion: An Animator’s Perspective on Vertebrate Evolution
Stephen M. Gatesy and David B. Baier

18 Developmental Mechanisms of Morphological Transitions: Examples from Archosaurian Evolution
Arhat Abzhanov

19 Microevolution and the Genetic Basis of Vertebrate Diversity: Examples from Teleost Fishes
Sydney A. Stringham and Michael D. Shapiro

20 The Age of Transformation: The Triassic Period and the Rise of Today's Land Vertebrate Fauna
Kevin Padian and Hans-Dieter Sues

21 How Do Homoplasies Arise? Origin and Maintenance of Reproductive Modes in Amphibians
Marvalee H. Wake

22 Rampant Homoplasy in Complex Characters: Repetitive Convergent Evolution of Amphibian Feeding Structures
David B. Wake, David C. Blackburn, and R. Eric Lombard


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Kenneth P. Dial is professor of biology at the University of Montana and founding director of the university's Flight Laboratory and Field Station at Fort Missoula.

Neil Shubin is senior advisor to the president and the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Anatomy at the University of Chicago. His books include The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People and Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body.

Elizabeth L. Brainerd is professor of medical science and director of the XROMM Technology Development Project at Brown University.

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