At the heart of this book is the matter of how and why animals evolved into particular shapes. The purpose of this book is to identify the physical laws which decide over the evolutionary (selective) value of body shape and morphological characters. Comparing the mechanical necessities with morphological details, Dr. Preuschoft attempts to understand how evolution works, and which sorts of limitations are set by selection.
The author tries to explain morphological traits in more biomechanical detail without getting lost in physics, or in methods. Most emphasis is placed on the proximate question, namely the identification of the mechanical stresses which must be sustained by the respective body parts, when they move the body or its parts against resistance. Understanding Body Shapes of Animals focuses on "primitive" animals in the first part of the book, with highly specialized mammals at the end. Through this book readers will learn more about living and fossil animals. Particular attention is given to human evolution. The aim of this section is not to produce another evolutionary tree, nor to refine a former one, but to contribute to answering the question: "WHY early humans have developed their particular body shape".
Chapter 1: Why this book?
Chapter 2: Head
Chapter 3: Axial skeleton in aquatic animals
Chapter 4: Axial skeleton and muscle arrangement in terrestrial tetrapods
Chapter 5: What have the extremities of "lower tetrapods" in common? And Why?
Chapter 6: Birds
Chapter 7: Land-living mammals
Chapter 8: Primates, the group including humans
Chapter 9: Evolution of hominids
Chapter 10: Summary, Conclusions and Open questions
Prof. Dr. Holger Preuschoft is an Emeritus Professor at the Center for Anatomy, Ruhr-Universitat in Bochum, Germany. 13 years back he was awarded the title "Docteur honoris causa" by the Universite Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. He has published more than 196 papers, and edited 9 multi-author books over the course of his career.