Synopses & Reviews
Mammals first evolved at about the same time as dinosaurs, and their story is perhaps the more fascinating of the twoand#151;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 terrainand#151;drawing from history, science, evolutionary theory, and art historyand#151;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.
How did mammals outlast the more abundant dinosaurs? This exploration of the enigmas of mammal evolution delves into one of nature's grand mysteries and Cinderella stories.
Using artist Rudolph Zallinger's "Age of Mammals" mural at the Peabody Museum as a frame for his narrative, the author draws from history, science, evolutionary theory and art history to present a lively account of ancient mammals and their evolution.
"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."and#151;Tim Flannery, author of The Eternal Frontier
"A compelling scientific adventure storyand#133;. 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."and#151;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!"and#151;Don Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human Origins
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
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. Simpsonand#8217;s 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 Serpentand#8217;s Offering
21. Anthropoid Leapfrog
Epilogue. Cenozoic Parks