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Groundbreaking investigation of the mystery of the origin of phyla. The distinguished paleobiologist integrates data from molecular genetics, evolutionary developmental biology, embryology, comparative morphology and paleontology into a synthesis accessible to scholars from any of these fields. He begins by examining the sorts of evidence that can be gleaned from fossils, molecules and morphology, then reviews and compares the basic morphology and development of animal phyla, emphasizing the important design elements found in the body plans of both living and extinct phyla. Finally, he undertakes the monumental task of developing models to explain the origin and early diversification of animal phyla, as well as their later evolutionary patterns.
`[James Valentine], with his remarkable combination of intuition and quantitative analysis, has led the way for many others, drawing on techniques and approaches of many disciplines to seek answers to the unique questions of paleontology. . . . [Valentine] has so often been ahead of his time that workers are still rediscovering principles and evolutionary patterns in his publications from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Presumably the field will have caught up to his current work by the middle of the next century!' Douglas Erwin, David Jablonski and Jere Lipps in Evolutionary Paleobiology