For nearly 100 million years amphibians and their ancestors dominated the terrestrial and shallow water environments of the earth. Archaic animals with an amphibious way of life gave rise not only to modern frogs, salamanders, and caecilians but also to the ancestors of reptiles, birds, and mammals.
In this landmark publication, one of the leading paleontologists of our time explores a pivotal moment of vertebrate evolution, the rise of amphibians. Synthesizing findings from the rich and highly diverse fossil record of amphibians, Robert Carroll traces their origin back 365 million years, when particular species of fish traveled down an evolutionary pathway of fin modification that gave rise to legs. This period of dramatic radiation was followed by a cataclysmic extinction 250 million years ago. After a long gap, modern amphibian groups gradually emerged. Now the number of amphibian species and individuals throughout the tropical and temperate regions of the earth exceeds that of mammals.
The Rise of Amphibians is documented with more than two hundred illustrations of fossil amphibians and sixteen exquisite color plates depicting amphibians in their natural habitats throughout their long existence. The most comprehensive examination of amphibian evolution ever produced, The Rise of Amphibians is an essential resource for paleontologists, herpetologists, geologists, and evolutionary biologists.
"I highly recommend The Rise of Amphibians to anyone interested not only in amphibians but also in the evolutionary history of vertebrates in general."
– Hans-Dieter Sues – Integrative and Comparative Biology
"A high-quality production, with finely illustrated drawings of skulls, vertebrae, ribs, teeth, and long bones of more amphibians, past and present, than most of us imagined even existed."
– Whit Gibbons – Tuscaloosa News
"The Rise of Amphibians should be on the bookshelf of anyone involved in vertebrate evolution [...] an excellent source of information [...] It is a first-choice reference book that stimulates further studies and research."
– Axel Janke – Systematic Biology
"Provides a wealth of valuable information about this fascinating history in a clear, easily readable style."
– Robert R. Reisz – Quarterly Review of Biology
"I enjoyed reading this fascinating book. It will become a landmark and standard reference in early amphibian evolution for years to come."
– Miguel Vences – Bioscience
"A useful reference catalog for the professional or well-read amateur."
– Richard Kissel – American Paleontologist
"This is the landmark work on the evolution of amphibians, and will be enjoyed and used for many years to come."
– Jason S. Anderson – Copeia
"Bob Carroll is telling us, in a modern and very readable style, the history of the amphibians, with an osteological precision nobody else has. In fact, with this new book, he shows us he stays the same, our 'Master Yoda of the amphibians.'"
– J. Sébastien Steyer – Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
"Carroll has excelled himself by putting together such magnificent piece of work, with information that is balanced efficiently."
– Robert Carroll – Herpetological Bulletin
"Carroll has excelled himself by putting together such a magnificent piece of work, with information that is balanced efficiently."
– Steven Piggott – Herpetological Bulletin
"An excellent, comprehensive overview of the diversity and evolutionary history of amphibians. It reflects a lifetime of specimen-based research on and thinking about the subject by the foremost student of early evolution of land vertebrates."
– Hans-Dieter Sues, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
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Robert Carroll is a professor emeritus at McGill University, was the long-time director of the Redpath Museum and chairman of the Department of Biology, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is among the world's most highly regarded experts on the evolution of amphibians and reptiles. Carroll is the author of several books, including Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution.