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Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other Enigmas of Mammal Evolution

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Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other Enigmas of Mammal Evolution Cover

ISBN13: 9780520246843
ISBN10: 0520246845
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Mammals first evolved at about the same time as dinosaurs, and their story is perhaps the more fascinating of the two—in part because it is also our own story. In this literate and entertaining book, eminent naturalist David Rains Wallace brings the saga of ancient mammals to a general audience for the first time. Using artist Rudolph Zallinger's majestic The Age of Mammals mural at the Peabody Museum as a frame for his narrative, Wallace deftly moves over varied terrain—drawing from history, science, evolutionary theory, and art history—to present a lively account of fossil discoveries and an overview of what those discoveries have revealed about early mammals and their evolution.

In these pages we encounter towering mammoths, tiny horses, giant-clawed ground sloths, whales with legs, uintatheres, zhelestids, and other exotic extinct creatures as well as the scientists who discovered and wondered about their remains. We meet such memorable figures as Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Edward D. Cope, George Gaylord Simpson, and Stephen Jay Gould and learn of their heated disputes, from Cuvier's and Owen's fights with early evolutionists to present controversies over the Late Cretaceous mass extinction. Wallace's own lifelong interest in evolution is reflected in the book's evocative and engaging style and in the personal experiences he expertly weaves into the tale, providing an altogether expansive perspective on what Darwin described as the "grandeur" of evolution.

Synopsis:

"Beasts of Eden is a wondrous journey through the vanished worlds of extinct mammals. Exciting, insightful, and accurate, it is everything that good science writing should be."—Tim Flannery, author of The Eternal Frontier

"A compelling scientific adventure story…. Peopled with colorful and larger-than-life characters, this account of the history of paleontology dramatically demonstrates how the interactions between crude but charismatic fossil seekers, ascetic intellectuals, temperamental artists, and many others have forever changed the ways in which we view life's prehistoric beginnings."—Ian Tattersall, author of The Monkey in the Mirror

"Beasts of Eden is a true delight. Each page drips with the drama and passion of scientific pursuit. Wallace is a keen observer, a learned writer, and a great story teller--this is a must read!"—Don Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human Origins

Synopsis:

A general interest exploration of mammal evolution and the scientific history of major fossil discoveries, their discoverers, and changing ideas about these extinct "beasts."It's both a grand mystery and a Cinderella story: mammal origins were one of 19th-century science's major enigmas, and mammals outlasted the more abundant dinosaurs to give birth to us.

About the Author

David Rains Wallace is the author of fifteen books, including The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, California, 2003), winner of the John Burroughs Medal; The Bonehunter's Revenge: Dinosaurs, Greed, and the Greatest Scientific Feud of the Gilded Age (1999); and The Monkey's Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America (1997).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Prologue. The Fresco and the Fossil

1. Pachyderms in the Catacombs

2. Dr. Jekyll and the Stonesfield Jaws

3. The Origin of Mammals

4. The Noblest Conquest

5. Terrible Horns and Heavy Feet

6. Mr. Megatherium versus Professor Mylodon

7. Fire Beasts of the Antipodes

8. Titans on Parade

9. Five-toed Horses and Missing Links

10. The Invisible Dawn Man

11. A Bonaparte of Beasts

12. Love and Theory

13. Simpsons Cynodont-to-Smilodon Synthesis

14. Shifting Ground

15. Dissolving Ancestries

16. Exploding Faunas

17. The Revenge of the Shell Hunters

18. Simpson Redivivus

19. Winds Thieves of the Kyzylkum

20. The Serpents Offering

21. Anthropoid Leapfrog

Epilogue. Cenozoic Parks

Notes

Select Bibliography

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

crowyhead, September 15, 2006 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I was sort of disappointed with this one. It was good, it just wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. I'm really fascinated by early mammals, so I went in expecting to learn a lot about the dawn horses and walking whales in the title. Instead, the greater portion of the book was about the various scientists who discovered the fossils and their rivalries and competing theories. The other disappointment was the dearth of illustrations. The author takes his inspiration from the famous "Age of Mammals" mural at the Peabody Museum, so you would think that the mural would be reproduced in the book. Sadly, the full mural is never shown; portions of it are reprinted, but in black and white, which makes it look blurry and also makes it difficult to ascertain exactly which ancient mammals the author is referring to. I had hoped to get a better idea of what all of these mammals were, how they lived, etc. It may be that we just don't have enough information about them to write the kind of book I was hoping for.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780520246843
Author:
Wallace, David Rains
Publisher:
University of California Press
Subject:
Mammals
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Paleontology
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
Life Sciences - Zoology - Mammals
Subject:
Mammals, fossil
Subject:
Geology-Paleontology
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Walking Whales, Dawn
Publication Date:
20050931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
18 b/w photographs, 2 line illustrations
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.88 in 18 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Landscape Architecture
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Zoology » Mammals
Science and Mathematics » Geology » Paleontology
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Travel » General

Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other Enigmas of Mammal Evolution Used Trade Paper
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages University of California Press - English 9780520246843 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
"Beasts of Eden is a wondrous journey through the vanished worlds of extinct mammals. Exciting, insightful, and accurate, it is everything that good science writing should be."—Tim Flannery, author of The Eternal Frontier

"A compelling scientific adventure story…. Peopled with colorful and larger-than-life characters, this account of the history of paleontology dramatically demonstrates how the interactions between crude but charismatic fossil seekers, ascetic intellectuals, temperamental artists, and many others have forever changed the ways in which we view life's prehistoric beginnings."—Ian Tattersall, author of The Monkey in the Mirror

"Beasts of Eden is a true delight. Each page drips with the drama and passion of scientific pursuit. Wallace is a keen observer, a learned writer, and a great story teller--this is a must read!"—Don Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human Origins

"Synopsis" by , A general interest exploration of mammal evolution and the scientific history of major fossil discoveries, their discoverers, and changing ideas about these extinct "beasts."It's both a grand mystery and a Cinderella story: mammal origins were one of 19th-century science's major enigmas, and mammals outlasted the more abundant dinosaurs to give birth to us.
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