Books  Ecological & Biological Sciences  Animal & General Biology  Animals: Vertebrate Zoology 

Vertebrate Life


By: F Harvey Pough(Author), Christine M Janis(Author), Sergi Lopez-Torres(Contributor)

624 pages, 744 colour photos and b/w illustrations

Sinauer Associates

Hardback | Apr 2018 | Edition: 10 | #243433 | ISBN-13: 9781605356075
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £77.99 $99/€88 approx

About this book

Vertebrate Life, 10th Edition blends information about anatomy, physiology, ecology, and behavior to present vertebrates within an evolutionary context. Engaging and readable, the 10th edition features full colour throughout with completely new photographs and line art. Important advances in vertebrate biology are highlighted, including the increasing influence of molecular phylogenies, insights provided by evo-devo, and our growing appreciation of the significance of developmental plasticity and epigenetics. Taxon-specific conservation issues are discussed in each chapter that treats extant forms.


Chapter 1. Evolution, Diversity, and Classification of Vertebrates
1.1. The Vertebrate Story
Major extant groups of vertebrates
1.2. Classification of Vertebrates
Binominal nomenclature
Phylogenetic systematics
Applying phylogenetic criteria
Morphology-based and molecular-based phylogenies
Using phylogenetic trees
1.3. Crown and Stem Groups
1.4. Genetic Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change
Phenotypes and fitness
Developmental regulatory genes
Intragenerational versus transgenerational phenotypic modification
1.5. Earth History and Vertebrate Evolution
Chapter 2. What Is a Vertebrate?
2.1. Vertebrates in Relation to Other Animals
2.2. Characteristics of Chordates
Chordate origin and evolution
Extant nonvertebrate chordates
2.3. What Distinguishes a Vertebrate?
2.4. Vertebrate Embryonic Development
Development of the body
Development of the pharyngeal region
Development of the brain
Unique developmental features of vertebrates
2.5. Basic Vertebrate Structures
Adult tissue types
Mineralized tissues
The skeletomuscular system
2.6. Basic Vertebrate Systems
The alimentary system
The cardiovascular system
The excretory and reproductive systems
The sense organs
Chapter 3. Jawless Vertebrates and the Origin of Jawed Vertebrates
3.1. The Earliest Evidence of Vertebrates
The origin of bone and other mineralized tissues
The mysterious conodonts
The environment of early vertebrate evolution
3.2. Cyclostomes: The Extant Jawless Fishes
Characters of cyclostomes
Fossil cyclostomes
Extant hagfishes: Myxiniformes
Lampreys: Petromyzontiformes
Cyclostomes and humans
3.3. Ostracoderms: Extinct Jawless Fishes
Characters of ostracoderms
Ostracoderm evolutionary patterns
3.4. The Basic Gnathostome Body Plan
Gnathostome biology
What about soft tissues?
3.5. The Origin of Jaws
Early hypotheses of jaw origins
The importance of the nose
Developmental studies of extant vertebrates
Transitional anatomy in fossils
The selective value of jaws
3.6. The Origin of Paired Appendages
The advantages of fins
Fin development and the lateral somitic frontier
Origin of the neck region
3.7. Extinct Paleozoic Jawed Fishes
Placoderms: Armored fishes
The surviving gnathostome groups
Chapter 4. Living in Water
4.1. The Aquatic Environment
Obtaining oxygen from water: Gills
Obtaining oxygen from air: Lungs and other respiratory structures
Adjusting buoyancy
4.2. Water and the Sensory World of Aquatic Vertebrates
Chemosensation: Taste and smell
Detecting water displacement
Electrical discharge
Electroreception by sharks and rays
4.3. The Internal Environment of Vertebrates
4.4. Exchange of Water and Ions
Nitrogen excretion
The vertebrate kidney
Regulation of ions and body fluids
4.5. Vertebrates in Different Environments
Marine vertebrates
Freshwater vertebrates: Teleosts and amphibians
Euryhaline vertebrates
Terrestrial vertebrates
Chapter 5. Geography and Ecology of the Paleozoic Era
5.1. Shifting Continents and Changing Climates
5.2. Continental Geography of the Paleozoic
5.3. Paleozoic Climates
5.4. Paleozoic Ecosystems
Aquatic life
Terrestrial floral ecosystems
Terrestrial faunal ecosystems
5.5. Paleozoic Extinctions
Chapter 6. Radiation and Diversification of Chondrichthyes
6.1. Chondrichthyes: The Cartilaginous Fishes
Distinctive characters of chondrichthyans
6.2. Evolutionary Diversification of Chondrichthyes
Paleozoic chondrichthyan radiations
The Mesozoic chondrichthyan radiation
Paleozoic and Mesozoic chondrichthyan paleobiology
Chapter 7. Extant Chondrichthyans
7.1. Morphology of Extant Chondrichthyans
7.2. Sharks (Selachii)
Sensory systems and prey detection
Ecology of sharks
7.3. Skates and Rays (Batoidea)
Courtship and reproduction
7.4. Chimaeras (Holocephali)
7.5. Declining Shark Populations: An Ecological Crisis
Chapter 8. Radiation and Diversity of Osteichthyes
8.1. The Origin of Bony Fishes
Earliest osteichthyans and the major groups of bony fishes
8.2. Evolution of Actinopterygii
Basal actinopterygians
Evolution of jaw protrusion
Pharyngeal jaws
Specializations of fins
8.3. Evolution of Sarcopterygii
Chapter 9. Extant Bony Fishes
9.1. Actinopterygians: Ray-Finned Fishes
9.2. Swimming
Minimizing drag
Steering, stopping, and staying in place
9.3. Actinopterygian Reproduction
9.4. The Sex Lives of Teleosts
All-female species
9.5. Teleosts in Different Environments
Deep-sea fishes
Coral reef fishes
9.6. Heterothermal Fishes
Warm muscles
Hot eyes
9.7. Sarcopterygians:Lobe-Finned Fishes
Actinistians: Coelacanths
Dipnoans: Lungfishes
9.8. Pollution, Overfishing, and Fish Farming
Freshwater fishes
Marine fishes
Chapter 10. Origin and Radiation of Tetrapods
10.1. Tetrapod Origins
Tetrapodomorph fishes
Earliest tetrapods of the Late Devonian
10.2. Moving onto Land
Terrestrial and walking fishes today
How are fins made into limbs?
Body support and locomotion
Lung ventilation and dermal bone
10.3. Radiation and Diversity of Non-Amniote Tetrapods
10.4. Amniotes
Derived features of amniotes
The amniotic egg
Patterns of amniote temporal fenestration
Chapter 11. Extant Amphibians
11.1. Diversity of Lissamphibians
11.2. Life Histories of Amphibians
The ecology of tadpoles
11.3. Amphibian Metamorphosis
11.4. Exchange of Water and Gases
Cutaneous respiration
Blood flow in larvae and adults
Cutaneous permeability to water
Behavioral control of evaporative water loss
Uptake and storage of water
11.5. Toxins, Venoms, and Other Defense Mechanisms
Skin glands
Toxicity and diet
Venomous amphibians
11.6. Why Are Amphibians Vanishing?
Chapter 12. Living on Land
12.1. Support and Locomotion on Land
The skeleton
The cranial skeleton
The axial skeleton: Vertebrae and ribs
Axial muscles
The appendicular skeleton: limbs and limb girdles
Size and scaling
12.2. Eating on Land
12.3. Breathing Air
12.4. Pumping Blood Uphill
12.5. Sensory Systems in Air
12.6. Conserving Water in a Dry Environment
12.7. Controlling Body Temperature in a Changing Environment
Ectothermy, endothermy, and heterothermy
Chapter 13. Geography and Ecology of the Mesozoic Era
13.1. Continental Geography of the Mesozoic
13.2. Mesozoic Climates
13.3. Mesozoic Aquatic Life
13.4. Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems
The Triassic
The Jurassic
The Cretaceous
13.5. Mesozoic Extinctions
Chapter 14. Synapsids and Sauropsids
14.1. The Conflict between Locomotion and Respiration
Locomotion and lung ventilation of synapsids
Locomotion and lung ventilation of sauropsids
14.2. Limb-Powered Locomotion
The basal amniote ankle joint
The sauropsid ankle joint
The synapsid ankle joint
14.3. Increasing Gas Exchange
Synapsid lungs
Sauropsid lungs
The respiratory system of birds
Why are synapsid and sauropsid lungs so different?
14.4. Transporting Oxygen to the Muscles: The Heart
14.5. The Evolution of Endothermy
How did endothermy evolve?
Evaluating the models
When did endothermy evolve?
14.6. Getting Rid of Wastes: The Kidneys
Nitrogen excretion by synapsids: The mammalian kidney
Nitrogen excretion by sauropsids: Renal and extrarenal routes
14.7. Sensing and Making Sense of the World
Chemosensation: Gustation and olfaction
Chapter 15. Ectothermy: A Low-Energy Approach to Life
15.1. Vertebrates and Their Environments
15.2. Dealing with Dryness: Ectotherms in Deserts
Desert tortoises
The chuckwalla
Desert amphibians
15.3. Coping with Cold: Ectotherms in Subzero Conditions
Frigid fishes
Frozen frogs
15.4. Energetics of Ectotherms and Endotherms
Body size
Body shape
15.5. The Role of Ectotherms in Terrestrial Ecosystems
Conversion efficiency
Chapter 16. Turtles
16.1. Everyone Recognizes a Turtle
Shell and skeleton
Families of extant turtles 285
16.2. Turtle Structure and Function
Lung ventilation
The heart
Patterns of circulation and respiration
Body size and temperature regulation
16.3. Reproductive Biology of Turtles
Moisture and egg development
Temperature-dependent sex determination
Parental care
Hatching and the behavior of baby turtles
16.4. Social Behavior, Communication, and Courtship
16.5. Navigation and Migrations
Navigation by adult turtles
Navigation by hatchling and juvenile sea turtles
16.6. The Fateful Life-History Characteristics of Turtles
Chapter 17. Lepidosaurs
17.1. Rhynchocephalians and the Biology of Tuatara
17.2. Radiation of Squamates
17.3. Foraging Modes
Correlates of foraging mode
17.4. Skull Kinesis
17.5. Feeding Specializations of Snakes
Venom and fangs
Hearts and stomachs
17.6. Predator Avoidance and Defense
Venomous and poisonous snakes
17.7. Social Behavior
17.8. Reproductive Modes
Sex determination
Oviparity and viviparity
Parental care
17.9. Thermal Ecology
Organismal performance and temperature
17.10. Lepidosaurs and Climate Change
Chapter 18. Crocodylians
18.1. Diversity of Extant Crocodylians
18.2. The Crocodylomorph Lineage
18.3. Predatory Behavior and Diet of Extant Crocodylians
18.4. Communication and Social Behavior
18.5. Reproduction and Parental Care
Temperature-dependent sex determination
Parental care
18.6. The Skin Trade
Chapter 19. Mesozoic Diapsids: Dinosaurs and Others
19.1. Characteristics of Diapsids
19.2. Diversity of Mesozoic Diapsids
19.3. Lepidosauromorphs: Marine Diapsids
Terrestrial lepidosauromorphs
Marine lepidosauromorphs
19.4. Metriorhynchid Crocodylomorphs
19.5. Pterosaurs: The First Flying Vertebrates
The structure of pterosaurs
Reproduction, eggs, and parental care
Did the evolution of birds doom the pterosaurs?
19.6. Triassic Faunal Turnover
19.7. The Structure and Function of Dinosaurs
Hips and legs
Dinosaur lineages
19.8. Ornithischian Dinosaurs
Social behavior of ornithischian dinosaurs
Nesting and parental care by ornithischians
19.9. Herbivorous Saurischians
The structure of sauropods
Social behavior of sauropods
Nesting and parental care by sauropods
19.10. Carnivorous Saurischians
Social behavior of theropods
Nesting and parental care by theropods
19.11. Gigantothermy and the Body Temperature of Dinosaurs
Chapter 20. Endothermy: A High-Energy Approach to Life
20.1. Balancing Heat Production with Heat Loss
Whole-body metabolism
Shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis
Evaporative cooling
20.2. Endotherms in the Cold
Avoiding cold and sharing heat
20.3. Facultative Hypothermia
Seasonal hypothermia
Rest-phase hypothermia
20.4. Endotherms in the Heat
Temperature stress and scarcity of water
Strategies for desert survival
Relaxation of homeostasis by hyperthermia
Hypothermia in the desert
Chapter 21. The Origin and Radiation of Birds
21.1. Avian Characters in Nonavian Theropods
Skeletal characters
Reproduction and parental care
Body size
21.2. The Mosaic Evolution of Birds
How-and why-birds got off the ground
The appearance of powered avian flight
21.3. Early Birds
21.4. The Mesozoic Radiations of Birds
Chapter 22. Extant Birds
22.1. The Structure of Birds: Specialization for Flight
Streamlining and weight reduction
22.2. Wings and Flight
Wing muscles
Wing shape and flight characteristics
22.3. Feet
Hopping, walking, and running
22.4. Feeding and Digestion
Beaks, skulls, and tongues
The digestive system
22.5. Sensory Systems
22.6. Social Behavior
Plumage colors and patterns
Vocalization, sonation, and visual displays
22.7. Oviparity
Egg biology
Sex determination
Maternal control of sex of offspring
22.8. Monogamy: Social and Genetic
22.9. Nests and Parental Care
Parental care
Brood parasitism
22.10. Orientation and Navigation
22.11. Migration
Migratory movements
Costs and benefits of migration
22.12. Birds and Urbanization
Success in the city
Noise pollution
Not so sexy in the city
Chapter 23. Geography and Ecology of the Cenozoic Era
23.1. Continental Geography of the Cenozoic
23.2. Cenozoic Climates
Paleogene and Neogene climates
The Pleistocene ice ages
23.3. Cenozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems
23.4. Biogeography of Cenozoic Mammals
The isolation of Australian mammals
The isolation of mammals on other continents
23.5. Cenozoic Extinctions
Chapter 24. Synapsida and the Evolution of Mammals
24.1. The Origin of Synapsids
24.2. The Diversity of Non-Mammalian Synapsids
Pelycosaurs: Basal non-mammalian synapsids
Therapsids: More derived non-mammalian synapsids
Therapsid diversity
24.3. Evolutionary Trends in Synapsids
Evolution of the diaphragm
Evolution of a double occipital condyle
Evolution of jaws and ears
24.4. The First Mammals
Metabolic and growth rates
Skeletomuscular system
Feeding and mastication
Brain, senses, and behavior
The integument: Epidermis and glands
Lactation and suckling
Food processing and swallowing
Facial musculature
Internal anatomy
24.5. Mesozoic Mammals
Dual radiations of Mesozoic mammals
Chapter 25. Extant Mammals
25.1. Major Lineages of Mammals
25.2. Differences between Therians and Non-Therians
Craniodental features
Postcranial skeletal features
Gait and locomotion
Information from the genes
Sex determination and sex chromosomes
25.3. Differences between Marsupials and Placentals
25.4. Mammalian Reproduction
Mammalian urogenital tracts
Reproductive mode of monotremes: Matrotrophic oviparity
Reproductive mode of therians: Matrotrophic viviparity
The earliest therian condition, and the discredited notion of placental superiority
25.5. Specializations for Feeding: Teeth and Jaws
Mammalian teeth
Differences between carnivorous and herbivorous mammals
Rodents: Specialized feeders
25.6. Specializations for Locomotion
Cursorial limb morphology
Fossorial limb morphology
25.7. The Evolution of Aquatic Mammals
Morphological adaptations for life in water
The evolution of cetaceans
25.8. Trophy Hunting
Endangering the endangered: The effect of perceived rarity
The extinction vortex
Chapter 26. Primate Evolution and the Emergence of Humans, by Sergi Lopez-Torres
26.1. Primate Origins and Diversification
Evolutionary trends and diversity in primates
26.2. Origin and Evolution of Hominoidea
Diversity and social behavior of extant apes
Relationships within Hominoidea
Diversity of fossil hominoids
26.3. Origin and Evolution of Humans
Early hominins
Ecological and biogeographic aspects of early hominin evolution
26.4. Derived Hominins: The Genus Homo
Homo erectus and Homo ergaster
The Dmanisi hominins
Homo floresiensis
Homo naledi
Precursors of Homo sapiens
The Neandertals
The Denisovans
Origins of modern humans
What happened to the humans who were already there?
26.5. Evolution of Human Characteristics
Large brains
Speech and language
Loss of body hair and development of skin pigmentation
Human technology and culture
26.6 Why Is Homo sapiens the Only Surviving Hominin Species?
Hybridization among species of Homo
26.7 Humans and Other Vertebrates
Humans as superpredators and environmental disruptors
Megafaunal extinctions
Is this the Anthropocene?
Illustration Credits

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F. Harvey Pough began his biological career at the age of fourteen when he and his sister studied the growth and movements of a population of eastern painted turtles in Rhode Island. His research now focuses on organismal biology, blending physiology, morphology, behavior, and ecology in an evolutionary perspective. He especially enjoys teaching undergraduates and has taught courses in vertebrate zoology, functional ecology, herpetology, environmental physiology, and the organismal biology of humans. He has published more than a hundred papers reporting the results of field and laboratory studies of lizards, frogs, sea snakes, and tuatara that have taken him to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Caribbean as well as most parts of the United States. Undergraduate students regularly participate in his research, and are coauthors of many of his publications.

Christine M. Janis is a Professor of Biology at Brown University where she teaches comparative anatomy and vertebrate evolution. A British citizen, she obtained her bachelor's degree at Cambridge University and then crossed the pond to get her Ph.D. at Harvard University. She is a vertebrate palaeontologist with a particular interest in mammalian evolution (especially hoofed mammals) and faunal responses to climatic change. She first became interested in vertebrate evolution after seeing the movie Fantasia at the impressionable age of seven. That critical year was also the year that she began riding lessons, and she has owned at least one horse since the age of 12. She is still an active rider, although no longer as aggressive a competitor (she used to do combined training events). She attributes her lifestyle to the fact that she has failed to outgrow either the dinosaur phase or the horse phase.

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