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Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record

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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

Michael J. Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol. He is interested particularly in early reptiles, Triassic dinosaurs and macroevolution, and has published 50 books and 160 scientific articles. David Harper is a leading expert on fossil brachiopods and numerical methods in palaeontology. He is Professor of Palaeontology in the University of Copenhagen, where he is currently Head of Geology in the Natural History Museum of Denmark. He has published over 10 books and monographs, including a couple of influential textbooks, as well as over 250 scientific articles and, together with Oyvind Hammer, the widely-used software package PAST. His time is divided between collection management, exhibition work, research and some teaching.


"The shear scope of the book is a marvel. The easily accessible English which has been employed by the authors makes this book a sure-fire hit for anyone with a basic grasp of palaeontology and who needs to acquire an authoritative overview of the seemingly disparate parts of the subject. Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Records is therefore perfect for undergraduate and postgraduate students of palaeontology; however, it will also endear it to anybody with a palaeontological background or interest. It is an outstanding contribution and in my opinion a must for all." ( Geological Journal , August 2010) "This book provides an excellent introduction to the study of paleobiology for advanced students in paleontology, evolutionary biology, and related fields." ( CHOICE , February 2009) "..any serious student of geology who does not pick this book off the shelf will be putting themselves at a huge disadvantage. The material may be complex, but the text is extremely accessible and well organized, and the book ought to be essential reading for palaeontologists at undergraduate, postgraduate and more advanced levelsboth in Britain as well as in North America." ( Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 2010) "...this is an excellent introduction to palaeontology in general. It is well structured, accessibly written and pleasantly informative ...I would recommend this as a standard reference text to all my students without hesitation." ( Geological Magazine , 2010) "This is the best paleontology textbook on the market today. It is a sure bet to set young students on the right path, and provides the 'long' answer to the question 'What should I study?'" ( The Quarterly Review of Biology , March 2010) "This undergraduate level college textbook presents a comprehensive overview into the science of paleobiology, and the many analytical tools and latest techniques used to interpret the fossil record." ( The Birdbooker Report , February 2009) "This book gives a competent, comprehensive and easy readable overview of all aspects of palaeontology and palaeobiology, which can be highly recommend to all, who are interested in the record of life from the beginning." ( Geological Survey of Austria , December 2008)

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