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. Simpson'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 Serpent's Offering 21. Anthropoid Leapfrog Epilogue. Cenozoic Parks Notes Select Bibliography Index
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).
In popularity, mammal evolution has always run a distant second to that of dinosaurs. In fact, the bigger, the better seems to be what sparks people's interest even among paleontologists. Here, award-winning science writer Wallace (The Bonehunters' Revenge) uses two murals painted by Rudolph Zallinger for Yale University's Peabody Museum ("the Sistine Chapel of evolution") as the springboard and recurrent theme. Taking readers through a history of fossil discoveries that correlate with the mammals in Zallinger's mural, Wallace argues that it is mammals not the flashier dinosaurs that have led the way to a greater understanding of evolution in general. Wallace uses the prolific fossil evidence of horses to point out the vagaries, offset by successful adaptations, exhibited by this species' evolution. His book will not answer or solve all the questions related to the evolutionary process, but it offers a nice stroll through the amazing array of unusual species that have populated Earth and reminds us that natural selection runs a close race with chance. Recommended for academic libraries with paleontology collections. Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"A thoroughly researched, richly detailed and lively book on the
'bone hunters,' who traversed the badlands of the world searching
for the fossils of mammals and on the vituperative intellectual
battles that some of these paleontologists waged with one another.
And as these stories unfold, one becomes familiar with the primary
ideas and events in the rise of modern evolutionary thinking." *
New York Times Book Review *
"[Wallace's] fine study deftly weaves together history and science to reveal the origins of our current scientific understanding. . . . Wallace meticulously traces the story of humankind's attempts to interpret the evidence of fossils. . . . It's a complex story but he succeeds in bringing alive a bizarre pantheon of prehistoric mammals." * Guardian *
"[Zallinger's] mural serves perfectly as the organizing motif for David Rains Wallace's fascinating new book . . . which tells the story of mammal evolution and discovery. . . . Wallace traces the study of mammals from the earliest finds to the latest research, making his story come to life with details of discoveries as recent as 2003. . . . Well-written and engaging." * Seattle Times *
"Wallace has talked to most of the experts in the field and brings everything alive and bang up to date by quoting their ideas and arguments. Cleverly, he uses illustrations from Rudolph Zallinger's famous Peabody Museum murals of 'The Age of Reptiles' and 'The Age of Mammals' to show how ideas about mammal evolution have changed over recent decades. . . . Wallace does an excellent job of enlivening a complex tale, full of the jaw-breaking names of our extinct mammal relatives." * New Scientist *
"As we understand it, evolution is a magnificent -- but unfinished -- symphony. Let . . . Wallace conduct it for you." * Los Angeles Times Book Review *
"If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this excellent work proves that a mural is worth 300 pages. Wallace uses the often overlooked [The] Age of Mammals mural at Yale's Peabody Museum as the theme around which he builds the story of the evolution of scientific thought on mammalian evolution. . . . Paleontology buffs will not be the only ones entranced. . . . [A] charming story, skillfully told." * Publishers Weekly *
"Wallace brings together the best theories here to tell the story of mammalian discovery and evolution. Vivid reports of fossil finds bring some long-gone creatures back to life and aid the author in explaining how the evolutionary process has shaped the mammalian class." * Science News *
"[An] engaging, award-winning exploration of the evolution of mammals." * Toronto Globe & Mail *
"Brings the story of ancient mammals to a general audience, drawing from history, science, evolutionary theory and art history to present a lively account of fossil discoveries." * Dallas Morning News *
"Wallace argues that it is mammals-not the flashier dinosaurs-that have led the way to a greater understanding of evolution in general. . . . A nice stroll through the amazing array of unusual species that have populated Earth and reminds us that natural selection runs a close race with chance." * Library Journal *
"Opens a wondrous window on paleontology's investigations of the origins of mammals." * Booklist *
"Intrigued by the Yale Peabody Museum's giant Age of Mammals mural since the age of 10, naturalist and author David Rains Wallace has brought the mural to life in a new book about the history of mammal evolution. . . . As interesting as the paleontological descriptions is Wallace's discussion of the people involved in mammalian studies over the years, intertwining the science with personal and professional disagreements among major players in the field. Not a light book, it is interesting in its outlook: using art to describe a scientific endeavor." * Geotimes *
"This compelling book examines the lives of the scientists whose indefatigable labor in the field and the laboratory gave rise to modern theories of evolution. . . . This is an eloquently written and thought-provoking book that only adds to the author's considerable reputation as a master of the genre." * Bloomsbury Review *
"Ties together in an interesting way many of the old chestnuts of vertebrate paleontological lore. . . . Wallace has skillfully woven his tale around the Zallinger art . . . his literary use of the Zallinger frescos succeeds in drawing us into deep time." * Trends in Ecology & Evolution *
"Charming. . . . A fine survey." * Maui News *
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this excellent work proves that a mural is worth 300 pages. Wallace (The Bonehunter's Revenge, etc.) uses the often overlooked Age of Mammals mural at Yale's Peabody Museum as the theme around which he builds the story of the evolution of scientific thought on mammalian evolution. Rather than structure his narrative around the theories themselves, Wallace focuses on the savants and scientists who developed them. Vivid descriptions of the "bare-knuckled rivalries of Gilded Age paleontology" which saw respected scientists sending saboteurs to each other's digs and lambasting one another in the popular press, and museum founders who grafted human teeth onto the heads of roosters bring these men to life as well as the best of them were able to do for the specimens they found. Each character's particular expeditions, macabre youthful pastimes and the fossils that led to their fame or downfall are illuminated by abundant quotations from a wide variety of sources. Judicious use of personal anecdotes lends an air of conviviality to the author's prose, and frequent returns to the Peabody mural add still more depth and perspective. Paleontology buffs will not be the only ones entranced; this charming story, skillfully told, will appeal to history and biography fans as well. 18 b&w photos, 2 line illus. Agent, Sandy Taylor. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.