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Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record

  • ID: 2182129
  • Book
  • January 2009
  • 608 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
This book presents a comprehensive overview of the science of the history of life. Paleobiologists bring many analytical tools to bear in interpreting the fossil record and the book introduces the latest techniques, from multivariate investigations of biogeography and biostratigraphy to engineering analysis of dinosaur skulls, and from homeobox genes to cladistics.

All the well–known fossil groups are included, including microfossils and invertebrates, but an important feature is the thorough coverage of plants, vertebrates and trace fossils together with discussion of the origins of both life and the metazoans. All key related subjects are introduced, such as systematics, ecology, evolution and development, stratigraphy and their roles in understanding where life came from and how it evolved and diversified.

Unique features of the book are the numerous case studies from current research that lead students to the primary literature, analytical and mathematical explanations and tools, together with associated problem sets and practical schedules for instructors and students.

This book will be essential reading for undergraduates studying paleontology or Paleobiology in earth or biological science degree courses worldwide.

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Preface.

1. Paleontology as a science.

Paleontology in the modern world.

Paleontology as a science.

Steps to understanding.

Fossils and evolution.

Paleontology today.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

2. Fossils in time and space.

Frameworks.

On the ground: lithostratigraphy.

Use of fossils: discovery of biostratigraphy.

Paleobiogeography.

Fossils in fold belts.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

3. Taphonomy and the quality of the fossil record.

Fossil preservation.

Quality of the fossil record.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

4. Paleoecology and paleoclimates.

Paleoecology.

Paleoclimates.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

5. Macroevolution and the tree of life.

Evolution by natural selection.

Evolution and the fossil record.

The tree of life.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

6. Fossil form and function.

Growth and form.

Evolution and development.

Interpreting the function of fossils.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

7. Mass extinctions and biodiversity loss.

Mass extinctions.

The big five mass extinction events.

Extinction then and now.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

8. The origin of life.

The origin of life.

Evidence for the origin of life.

Life diversifies: eukaryotes.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

9. Protists.

Protista: introduction.

Eukaryotes arrive center stage.

Protozoa.

Chromista.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

10. Origin of the metazoans.

Origins and classification.

Four key faunas.

Soft–bodied invertebrates.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

11. The basal metazoans: sponges and corals.

Porifera.

Cnidaria.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

12. Spiralians 1: lophophorates.

Brachiopoda.

Bryozoa.

Review questions.

Further reading.

References.

13. Spiralians 2: mollusks.

Mollusks: introduction.

Early mollusks.

Class Bivalvia.

Class Gastropoda.

Class Cephalopoda.

Class Scaphopoda.

Class Rostroconcha.

Evolutionary trends within the Mollusca.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

14. Ecdysozoa: arthropods.

Arthropods: introduction.

Early arthropod faunas.

Subphylum Trilobitomorpha.

Subphylum Chelicerata.

Subphylum Myriapoda.

Subphylum Hexapoda.

Subphylum Crustacea.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

15. Deuterostomes: echinoderms and hemichordates.

Echinoderms.

Hemichordates.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

16. Fishes and basal tetrapods.

Origin of the vertebrates.

Jaws and fish evolution.

Tetrapods.

Reign of the reptiles.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

17. Dinosaurs and mammals.

Dinosaurs and their kin.

Bird evolution.

Rise of the mammals.

The line to humans.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

18. Fossil plants.

Terrestrialization of plants.

The great coal forests.

Seed–bearing plants.

Flowering plants.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

19. Trace fossils.

Understanding trace fossils.

Trace fossils in sediments.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

20. Diversification of life.

The diversification of life.

Trends and radiations.

Ten major steps.

Review questions.

References.

Further reading.

Glossary.

Appendix 1: Stratigraphic chart.

Appendix 2: Paleogeographic maps.

Index

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Michael Benton
David A. T. Harper
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