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Forerunners of Mammals: Radiation Histology Biology (Life of the Past) [Hardcover]

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan

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Book Description

20 Dec 2011 Life of the Past
More than 300 million years ago, during the period known as the Carboniferous, there emerged a group of four-legged animals known as synapsids. Their descendents, the therapsids, would eventually give rise to mammals. Beginning with an introduction to the synapsids, their descendents, and the ancient world in which they lived, this remarkable book surveys their radiation, histology, and biology. It documents types of bone microstructure and their biological implications, provides insights into their biology and the evolution of endothermy in the group, and highlights areas for future research. A detailed guide to the synapsids, the book discusses the interrelationships within the group and their radiation from the earliest pelycosaurs to the diverse non-mammalian therapsids and later to the increasingly more mammal-like cynodonts. A chapter on the Karoo Basin of South Africa documents an unparalleled record of therapsid evolution and radiation and offers a unique perspective on therapsid biodiversity and paleoenvironmental analysis.

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"Ever since Nick Holton's book from 1980 we have needed an update on the biology of therapsids, and it has been Anusuya Chinsamy and her students and associates who through their bone histological work have made the greatest progress in this field." Martin Sander, Steinman Institute, University of Bonn "Forerunners of Mammals is full of meticulous detail ... [I]t also contains a number of excellently rendered illustrations of some of the animals covered in the book ... Recommended." Choice "This volume represents a state-of-the-art contribution to our understanding of the paleobiology of how mammals arose, and what factors contributed to their evolutionary radiation and eventual success. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in these topics, and will be accessible to readers with minimal background in bone histology and synapsid paleontology." - Quarterly Review of Biology

About the Author

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is a paleobiologist and global expert on fossil bone microstructure. She is Professor and Fellow of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is former director of the National History Collections, Iziko Museums of Cape Town. She is author of The Microstructure of Dinosaur Bone: Deciphering Biology through Fine Scale Analysis and Famous Dinosaurs of Africa.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what you expect! 15 Dec 2011
By Scott McKenzie - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book about histology, bone microstructure. There is one chapter on the diversity and evolution of the early mammal -like reptiles. There are some great color pictures of the animals but make no mistake, most of this book is on histology. I am very interested in early mammal relations and the histology does have clear implications for their life styles. This is like a book on the life of Lincoln with almost all of the volume dealing with his bone microstructure. The title should have reflected the true content!

There is room for a book that does speak to the title of this book, Perhaps someone will write it.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't Tell a Book......... 7 Jan 2012
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The old adage "you can't tell a book by it's cover" is certainly applicable to "Forerunners of the Mammals". A correlative added could be " don't put too much stock in a publishers pronoucements about a new book". This book has some significant information within it and a few chapters are well written (chapter 1,2 & 11) but for the most part this is a compilation of bone histology studies and is meant for the "special" specialist. This reminds me of a book I once read on the minute details of the egg shells of turtles, lizards, snakes, birds, dinosaurs and mammals. Lots of information but a little can go an awefully long way particularly for the non-specialist. I'm sure a book on therapsid bone histology is warrented but title it as such. Yes, some summary information may help in understanding survival, radiation and persistance of a species in one or several climates and geographic locations but pages and pages dulls the mind. I agree with the first reviewer that an update and in depth book on the therapsids is sorely needed. This one simply wets the appetite.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Academic Review Of All Things Proto-Mammalia, Not For Lightweights! 21 Nov 2012
By Larry Cosgrove - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you have an endearing interest in how reptiles gave rise to mammals (and of that matter, dinosaurs and birds), you will love "Forerunners Of Mammals". Easily the best footnoted and scientific book on mammal ancestry (centered largely on the more familiar pelycosaurs, cynodonts, and early mammals), this writing largely skips the "cute furball picture" route and takes the reader to the science behind evolution. If reading about fossilized bone structure, jaw diversion and cladistics bores you, do not buy this book! However, if you are looking for a great example of paleobiology for your classroom or library, Chinsamy-Turan's compliation of selections from authors versed in the field of diapsid/therapsid relationship cannot be beat.

This is involved scholarship, and frankly I wish that we see more of its kind in dealing with other evolutionary topics. Worth the price, and deserving of a five-star rating.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book 20 Oct 2013
By REDD - Published on
The book explains in detail about the evolution of the mammal-like reptiles (yes, there were such things) up to mammals. I was facinated to read how much can be deducted about the once living animals from studies of their FOSSILIZED bones. I am not a paleontologist but I learnt so much from this book and I strongly recommend it anyone interested in prehistoric life on earth.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big help for a graduate student 17 May 2013
By Kimberly - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book has been a huge help for me while I'm working on my fossil bone histology thesis research. It's nice to see a book focus on something other than dinosaurs.
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