Evolution : What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters

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Over the past twenty years, paleontologists have made tremendous fossil discoveries, including fossils that mark the growth of whales, manatees, and seals from land mammals and the origins of elephants, horses, and rhinos. Today there exists an amazing diversity of fossil humans, suggesting we walked upright long before we acquired large brains, and new evidence from molecules that enable scientists to decipher the tree of life as never before. The fossil record is now one of the strongest lines of evidence for evolution. In this engaging and richly illustrated book, Donald R. Prothero weaves an entertaining though intellectually rigorous history out of the transitional forms and series that dot the fossil record. Beginning with a brief discussion of the nature of science and the "monkey business of creationism," Prothero tackles subjects ranging from flood geology and rock dating to neo-Darwinism and macroevolution. He covers the ingredients of the primordial soup, the effects of communal living, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, the mammalian explosion, and the leap from chimpanzee to human. Prothero pays particular attention to the recent discovery of "missing links" that complete the fossil timeline and details the debate between biologists over the mechanisms driving the evolutionary process. Evolution is an absorbing combination of firsthand observation, scientific discovery, and trenchant analysis. With the teaching of evolution still an issue, there couldn't be a better moment for a book clarifying the nature and value of fossil evidence. Widely recognized as a leading expert in his field, Prothero demonstrates that the transformation of life on this planet is far more awe inspiring than the narrow view of extremists.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 408 pages
  • 175.26 x 256.54 x 27.94mm | 1,202.01g
  • Columbia University Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 208 illus.
  • 0231139624
  • 9780231139625
  • 196,686

Review quote

This book demonstrates the importance of paleontology to the study of evolution. Publishers Weekly A must read...Brilliant and masterfully researched. -- Greg Sweatt Fossil News Engagingly written and scientifically accurate... Highly recommended. CHOICE This is one of the best books of its kind. -- Christopher diCarlo Guelph Mercury The book is very valuable as a demonstration of the quality of the fossil record, which has improved dramatically in the past decade. -- Peter Dodson Reports of the National Center for Science Education (T)o anyone who wishes to be informed on our current knowledge about fossils and their interpretation, and for anyone who is still not so sure whom to believe, this book will straighten things out and will be an unforgettable reading experience. Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologieshow more

About Donald R. Prothero

Donald R. Prothero is professor of geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and lecturer in geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. A fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnaean Society of London, Prothero is on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation. In 1991 he received the Schuchert Award for outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40. He is the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 22 books and over 200 scientific papers, and his titles for Columbia University Press are From Greenhouse to Icehouse and The Eocene-Oligocene Transition.show more

Table of contents

Foreword: Why People Do Not Accept Evolution To the Reader: Is Evolution a Threat to Your Religious Beliefs? Prologue: Fossils and Evolution Acknowledgments Part I: Evolution and the Fossil Record 1. The Nature of Science 2. Science and Creationism 3. The Fossil Record 4. The Evolution of Evolution 5. Systematics and Evolution Part II: Evolution? The Fossils Say YES! 6. Life's Origins 7. Cambrian "Explosion"-or Slow Fuse? 8. Spineless Wonders of Evolution 9. Fish Tales 10. Fish Out of Water 11. Onto the Land and Back to the Sea: The Amniotes 12. Dinosaurs Evolve-and Fly 13. Mammalian Explosion 14. Bossies and Blowholes 15. The Ape's Reflection? 16. Why Does It Matter? Bibliography Indexshow more

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