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Other titles in the Life of the Past series:
Gaining Ground, Second Edition: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods (Life of the Past)by Jennifer A. Clack
Synopses & Reviews
Around 370 million years ago, a distant relative of a modern lungfish began a most extraordinary adventure--emerging from the water and laying claim to the land. Over the next 70 million years, this tentative beachhead had developed into a worldwide colonization by ever-increasing varieties of four-limbed creatures known as tetrapods, the ancestors of all vertebrate life on land. This new edition of Jennifer A. Clack's groundbreaking book tells the complex story of their emergence and evolution. Beginning with their closest relatives, the lobe-fin fishes such as lungfishes and coelacanths, Clack defines what a tetrapod is, describes their anatomy, and explains how they are related to other vertebrates. She looks at the Devonian environment in which they evolved, describes the known and newly discovered species, and explores the order and timing of anatomical changes that occurred during the fish-to-tetrapod transition.
How did flying birds evolve from running dinosaurs, terrestrial trotting tetrapods from swimming fish, and whales return to swim in the sea?and#160; These are some of the great transformations in the history of life; events that have captured the imagination of scientists and the general public alike. At first glance, these major evolutionary events seem utterly impossible.and#160; The before and after look so fundamentally different that the great transformations of the history of life not only seem impossible, but unknowable. The 500 million year history of vertebrates is filled with change and, as a consequence, every living species contains within its structure, DNA, and fossil record, a narrative of them.
A battery of new techniques and approaches, from diverse fields of inquiry, are now being marshaled to explore classic questions of evolution.and#160; These approaches span multiple levels of biological organization, from DNA sequences, to organs, to the physiology and ecology of whole organisms.and#160; Analysis of developmental systems reveals deep homologies of the mechanisms that pattern organs as different as bird wings and fish fins.and#160; Whales with legs are one of a number of creatures that tell us of the great transformations in the history of life.and#160; Expeditions have discovered worms with a kind of head, fishes with elbows, wrists, and necks; feathered dinosaurs, and human precursors to name only a few.and#160; Indeed, in the last 20 years, paleontologists have discovered more creatures informative of evolutionary transitions than in the previous millennium.and#160;
The Great Transformations captures the excitement of these new discoveries by bringing diverse teams of renowned scientists together to attack particular transformations, and to do so in a contents organized by body part--head, neck, fins, limbs, and then the entire bauplan.and#160; It is a work that will transform evolutionary biology and paleontology.
About the Author
Jennifer A. Clack is Professor and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge. She was awarded the 2008 Daniel Giraud Elliot medal, by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Honorary Member by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Table of Contents
Two Skulls and Skeletons in Transition
Three Relationships and Relatives: The Lobe-Fin Family
Four Setting the Scene: The Devonian World
Five The First Feet: Tetrapods of the Famennian
Six From Fins to Feet: Transformation and Transition
Seven Emerging into the Carboniferous: The First Phase
Eight East Kirkton and the Roots of the Modern Family Tree
Nine The Late Carboniferous: Expanding Horizons
Ten Gaining Ground: The Evolution of Terrestriality
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