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Academic & Professional Books  Palaeontology  Palaeozoology & Extinctions

Vertebrate Palaeontology

Textbook New Edition
By: Michael J Benton(Author)
688 pages, illustrations
Vertebrate Palaeontology
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  • Vertebrate Palaeontology ISBN: 9781394195084 Edition: 5 Paperback Aug 2024 Available for pre-order
Price: £55.95
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Richly illustrated with cladograms of all major vertebrate taxa, Vertebrate Palaeontology provides a complete account of the evolution of vertebrates, including macroevolutionary trends and drivers that have shaped their organs and body plans, key transitions such as terrestrialization, endothermy, flight and impacts of mass extinctions on biodiversity and ecological drivers behind the origin of chordates and vertebrates, their limbs, jaws, feathers, and hairs.

This revised and updated fifth edition features numerous recent examples of breakthrough discoveries in line with the current macroevolutionary approach in palaeontology research, such as the evolutionary drivers that have shaped vertebrate development. Didactical features have been enhanced and include new functional and developmental feature spreads, key questions, and extensive references to useful websites.

Written by a leading academic in the field, Vertebrate Palaeontology discusses topics such as:
- Early palaeozoic fishes, covering cambrian vertebrates, placoderms ('armour-plated monsters'), pan-chondrichthyes such as sharks and rays, and osteichthyes ('bony fishes')
- The first tetrapods, covering problems of life on land, diversity of carboniferous tetrapods and temnospondyls and reptiliomorphs following the carboniferous
- Mesozoic reptiles, covering testudinata (turtles), crocodylomorpha, pterosauria, great sea dragons and lepidosauria (lizards and snakes)
- Mammals of the northern hemisphere, covering scrotifera (bats and relatives), cetartiodactyla (cattle, pigs and whales) and zoomata (horses, carnivores and pangolins)

A highly comprehensive and completely up-to-date reference on vertebrate evolution, Vertebrate Palaeontology is an ideal learning aid for palaeontology courses in biology and geology departments. The text is also highly valuable to enthusiasts who want to experience the flavour of how modern research in the field is conducted.


1 Vertebrates Originate
1.1 Sea squirts and the lancelet
1.2 Ambulacraria: echinoderms and hemichordates
1.3 Deuterostome relationships
1.4 Chordate origins
1.5 Vertebrates origins: worm or bag?

2 How to Study Fossil Vertebrates
2.1 Digging up bones
2.2 Publication and professionalism
2.3 Geology and fossil vertebrates
2.4 Biology and fossil vertebrates
2.5 Discovering phylogeny
2.6 Macroevolution

3 Early Palaeozoic Fishes
3.1 Cambrian vertebrates
3.2 Vertebrate hard tissues
3.3 The jawless fishes
3.4 Origin of jaws
3.5 Placoderms: armour-plated monsters
3.6 Pan-Chondrichthyes: sharks, rays, acanthodians
3.7 Early fish biogeography and environments
3.8 Osteichthyes: the bony fishes
3.9 Early fish evolution and mass extinction

4 The First Tetrapods
4.1 Problems of life on land
4.2 Devonian tetrapods
4.3 The Carboniferous world
4.4 Diversity of Carboniferous tetrapods
4.5 Temnospondyls and reptiliomorphs after the Carboniferous
4.6 E volution of the modern amphibians

5 Evolution of Early Amniotes
5.1 Hylonomus and Paleothyris -- biology of the first amniotes
5.2 Amniote adaptations for terrestrial life
5.3 The Permian world
5.4 The parareptiles
5.5 The eureptiles
5.6 Early synapsid evolution
5.7 The Permian-Triassic mass extinction

6 The Triassic Revolution
6.1 The Triassic world and the recovery of life
6.2 Triassic marine reptiles
6.3 E volution of the archosauromorphs
6.4 Origin of the dinosaurs
6.5 Amniote evolution in the Triassic

7 Evolution of Fishes after the Devonian
7.1 The early chimaeras and sharks
7.2 Post-Palaeozoic chondrichthyan radiation
7.3 The early bony fishes
7.4 Radiation of the teleosts
7.5 Post-Devonian evolution of fishes

8 Dinosaurs
8.1 Biology of Plateosaurus
8.2 The Jurassic and Cretaceous world
8.3 Saurischians and theropod diversity
8.4 The sauropodomorph dinosaurs
8.5 The diversity of ornithischian dinosaurs
8.6 Were the dinosaurs warm-blooded or not?

9 The Mesosoic Reptiles
9.1 Testudinata: the turtles
9.2 Crocodylomorpha
9.3 Pterosauria
9.4 The great sea dragons
9.5 Lepidosauria: lizards and snakes
9.6 The end-Cretaceous mass extinction

10 The Birds
10.1 The origin of birds
10.2 The origin of bird flight
10.3 Cretaceous birds, with and without teeth
10.4 The radiation of modern birds: explosion or long fuse?
10.5 Flightless birds: palaeognathae
10.6 Neognathae
10.7 The three-phase diversification of birds

11 Mammals: Origins and Southern Hemisphere Evolution
11.1 Cynodonts and the acquisition of mammaliaform characters
11.2 The first mammaliaforms
11.3 The Mesozoic mammaliaforms
11.4 Marsupials down under
11.5 South American mammals -- a world apart
11.6 Afrotheria and the break-up of Gondwana

12 Mammals of the Northern Hemisphere
12.1 Evolution of modern mammals
12.2 Boreoeutherian beginnings: the Palaeocene in the northern hemisphere
12.3 Early diverging laurasiatherians: eulipotyphla
12.4 Scrotifera: bats and relatives
12.5 Cetartiodactyla: cattle, pigs and whales
12.6 Zoomata: horses, carnivores and pangolins
12.7 Glires: rodents, rabbits and relatives
12.8 Archonta: primates, tree shrews and flying lemurs
12.9 Ice age extinction of large mammals

13 Human Evolution
13.1 What are the primates?
13.2 The fossil record of early primates
13.3 Anthropoidea: monkeys and apes
13.4 Hominoidea: the apes
13.5 E volution of human characteristics
13.6 The early stages of human evolution
13.7 The past two million years of human evolution

Classification of the vertebrates

Customer Reviews


Michael J. Benton, FRS, is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol. He is particularly interested in early reptiles, Triassic dinosaurs and macroevolution, and has published over 50 books and 300 scientific articles. He leads one of the most active palaeontology research groups at the University of Bristol and has supervised more than 60 PhD students.

Textbook New Edition
By: Michael J Benton(Author)
688 pages, illustrations
Media reviews

"This fine textbook by Michael Benton (Department of Geology University of Bristol) sets the standard in the field – a well-developed and wonderfully researched book that will serve the student community in the study of Palaeontology for years to come."
- Electric Review.Net, September 2004

"This is the third edition of a very long running (1990) and highly successful textbook in the field of vertebrate palaeontology [...] an invaluable aid to those who wish to know more about vertebrate fossils. There are plenty of well-drawn labelled diagrams. The text is clear and the book superbly planned and ordered [...] A classic textbook [...] "
- Down to Earth, December 2004

"Mike Benton's textbook on vertebrate palaeontology has been an aclaimed success since its first edition in 1990 [...] it has now undergone very substantial further revision for its newly published third edition [...] This new edition reflects the enormous upsurge in research and results for vertebrate palaeontology over just the past ten years, in which Mike himself has played a leading role [...] a one-stop buy for all those who would like a good background perspective and summary of vertebrate palaeontology [...] a book which I can strongly recommend."
- Robin Cocks, GA Magazine of the Geologists' Association, March 2005

"[The] simple language and general attitude make it accessible even to readers not familiar with paleontology at all. [...] the author has succeeded in making it as comprehensive as possible in respect to such complex factual material. In few other books is the biological diversity of vertebrates presented in such an elegant and precise manner [...] These parts of the book impressively show the unusual extent of the author's knowledge. Michael Benton is an expert on the early evolution of dinosaurs, but his expertise in a range of problems of vertebrate paleontology is astonishing [...] No doubt that Michael Benton's professional review of the evolution of the most complex of animals has to be placed high on the evolutionary tree of university textbooks. There is probably no better, more comprehensive and up-to-date source [...] "
- Journal of Sedimentary Research, March 2005

"This volume [...] is on the way to becoming a classic. This third edition [...] is also all one could hope for in a field that is changing so fast [...] The interest of the book is very much in the diversity of approaches used [...] This book is certainly the best introduction to the palaeontology of the vertebrates which is currently available, and its potential readership clearly passes beyond the student world alone. It has been translated into many languages, and one can only hope that a French edition will also see the light of day."
- Professor Eric Buffetaut (Paris), Geochronique, June 2005

"[...] a textbook aimed at enthusiasts and undergraduates [...] it is well laid out and the clear narrative style makes it accessible and easily read. I am sure anyone who wishes to learn more about the history of vertebrates will find it a very useful and informative book with much of interest to be gleaned."
- Glasgow Naturalist, June 2006

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