1 Paleontology as a science 1
2 Stratigraphy 25
3 Paleogeography and paleoclimates 50
4 Paleoecology 80
5 Taphonomy and the quality of the fossil record 115
6 Fossil form and function 140
7 Macroevolution and the tree of life 165
8 Biodiversity, extinction, and mass extinction 193
9 The origin of life 223
10 Protists 248
11 Origin and expansion of the metazoans 279
12 The basal metazoans: sponges and corals 306
13 Lophophorates 1: brachiopods and bryozoans 344
14 Lophotrochozoans 2: mollusks and annelids 372
15 Ecdysozoa: arthropods 412
16 Deuterostomes: echinoderms and hemichordates 445
17 Fishes and basal tetrapods 486
18 Dinosaurs and mammals 512
19 Fossil plants and fungi 538
20 Trace fossils 570
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.
New to this edition
• The text and figures have been updated throughout to reflect current opinion on all aspects
• New case studies illustrate the chapters, drawn from a broad distribution internationally
• Chapters on Macroevolution, Form and Function, Mass extinctions, Origin of Life, and Origin of Metazoans have been entirely rewritten to reflect substantial advances in these topics
• There is a new focus on careers in paleobiology
• 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 over 400 scientific articles. He founded the Masters in Paleobiology degree at Bristol, which has now graduated over 400 students.
• David A.T. Harper is a leading expert on fossil brachiopods, numerical methods in paleontology and Phanerozoic stratigraphy. He is Professor of Paleontology, and Principal of Van Mildert College in Durham University. He has published over 15 books and monographs, including a couple of influential textbooks, as well as over 300 scientific articles and, together with Øyvind Hammer, the widely-used software package PAST.