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This is the first complete treatise on the evolution and palaeoecology of the Proboscidea or elephants, one of the great mammalian orders of the Cenozoic, of which only two species survive today. It reviews their classification, the major adaptive radiations and their evolutionary patterns, and the origins and current status of extant elephant species.|Their success over evolutionary time is reflected by their morphological and taxonomic diversity, their nearly worldwide distribution on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, and their persistence through nearly 50 million years. Their great past ability to migrate and to adapt to changing climatic conditions and interspecific competition provides a unique laboratory for the testing of evolutionary theories and development of new concepts.
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Proboscidean relatives
Part III: The first radiation: early proboscideans
Part IV: The second radiation: gomphotheres and stegodontids
Part V: The third radiation: Elephantidae
Part VI: Palaeoecology, taphonomy, extinction, and conservation
Part VI: Summary and conclusions
"the present multi-authored volume edited by two of the greatest students of the subject is a landmark [...] This book is a landmark in the study of the biology and paleobiology of the Emperor of Beasts."
– Malcolm C. McKenna, American Museum of Natural History, Science, Vol. 276, April 1997