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Vertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution Hardcover – 30 Sep 1987

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 698 pages
  • Publisher: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd (30 Sept. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716718227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716718222
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 22.9 x 28.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,297,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. J. Oxley on 2 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Despite the fact that some info might, I enphasize 'might', be out of date, this volume is worth its weight in gold for the numerous detailed illustrations. This book is a must for anyone interested in, or studying this subject.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
I spent 2 weeks chewing on this book... 11 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
...the only easily available work that goes to any depth on this intensely interesting subject. A large book of medium thickness with an average of about two drawings per page, including familial relationship diagrams.
Since the late Paleozoic, there have been two significant branches of terrestrial vertebrates: the diapsids (crocs, dinosaurs, birds) and synapsids (pelycosaurs, theraspids, mammals). Sharing a common ancestry and evolving at times in parallel, nevertheless distinctive features appear early that, though not of immediately apparent significance, in fact consign the lines to their separate fates.
The pelycosaur Dimetrodon, the familiar lizard-like reptile with a sail on its back that is often reproduced as a toy, and which I have always associated with the dinosaurs, is in fact a member of the synapsid line. The book points out how the process on the mandible that reaches up toward the temporal lobe is the beginning of a shift away from the ancestral quadrate-angular jaw articulation maintained by the diapsids through the birds. With the additional points of leverage provided, mammals were destined to become better chewers, able to move their jaws sideways in addition to up and down. The angular bone and one other bone in the mandible, incidentally, become modified to help pick up soundwaves, and eventually migrate to become one of the three bones in the middle ear. (Birds only have one bone in their middle ear, though interestingly, their hearing appears to be just as acute.)
Mammals continued to refine their chewing mechanism, introducing improvements to their teeth. Instead of the saw of teeth possessed by dinosaurs and early reptiles, the mammals developed closely occluding teeth that allowed them to grind food more efficiently. Apparently the price for this matching of the upper and lower teeth is that mammals cannot replace their adult teeth once lost.
If you are a specialist in one of the larger groups of vertebrates, such as the dinosaurs or the mammals, the coverage of this book will be unsatisfying. Sometimes I had difficulty determining what the defining characteristics that distinguished groups were, so I still can't look at a skeleton and know whether it's a pelycosaur or an early theraspid. On a related note, the relationship diagrams are not cladograms, but old-fashioned family tree type drawings, indicating not only relationship but the time period in which the group lived, with a thickening of the lines to show abundance.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
One of the few college texybooks I kept. 9 April 2002
By Charles A. Steiner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book was my textbook for Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution at the University of Rochester back in 1992. The book is very daunting to look at if you just flip through it. However, it does a nice job of introducing concepts and terms to the reader. Its organization is straightforward, starting with the simplest vertebrates and eventually finishing with mammals. Most groups are covered well, considering that the author's cover every group of vertebrates known. The biggest problem I had with the book was the section on dinosaurs, the biggest reason why I took the class. The information on them was limited to a few pages and much of the information was out-dated even in 1992. However, if you are looking for a good book on vertebrates, this is a must have. Just realize that some of the information may not reflect our current understanding since the book is over 10 years old and many new finds have come to light, new ideas have been introduced, and old ideas reexamined.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Older But Eloquent 6 Aug. 2011
By J.H.N. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At this point Dr. Carroll's book is slightly out-of-date, but it is one of the most beautifully written texts I've seen. The layout is wonderful and it is a joy to read. I enjoyed reading it when I took vert paleo and I kept it as a reference, but it's also fun to pull it off the shelf and browse. It's an essential for anyone building a library of paleo textbooks.
On the pro's bookshelf 18 Jan. 2014
By Mark Twang - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm a working fossil preparator and this is the primary reference text used in paleontology labs at the American Museum of Natural History, Yale Peabody Museum and others I'm sure. It's slightly out of date in terms of theory, but for basic osteology it's where the pros go to help make sense of the jumble of bones coming in from the field. Essential for paleontologists, collections managers and preparators of all levels.

If you want a general interest book on the latest in evolutionary theory or dinosaurs look elsewhere. If you want to suss out the difference between a croc and a turtle tarsal, this is the tome.
The book for bones! 13 Mar. 2010
By Ken Walker - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had Romer's Vertebrate Paleontology, which is an excellent book, until a paleontologist friend directed me to Carroll's book. He acknowledges Romer's work in the field but this is an updated version (for the time of publication).
It gives all the basic elements needed for a thorough understanding of this very important field of study. One caution: know your anatomy! The detailed information can be a bit overwhelming for the amateur (like me).
However, if you want to chart the course of evolution up to the present - read this book!
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