Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution

Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution

Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/11/2007
Format: Hardback 76 b&w photos, 27 color photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-34926-2
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New discoveries of ancient vertebrates, filling in gaps in the fossil record, are quickly eroding the traditionally recognized differences between the principal groups of vertebrates—for example, between dinosaurs and birds—and radically changing our understanding of the evolutionary history of the major group of animals to which our species belongs. This book describes this changing scientific landscape and contributes to the revolution in our knowledge of the developmental mechanisms that underlie evolutionary transformation.

Author Bio

Jason S. Anderson is a vertebrate paleontologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Paleontology.

Hans-Dieter Sues is a vertebrate paleontologist and Associate Director for Research and Collections, National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.


“Very topical, particularly from an evo—devo perspective. The authors are top—notch, each appropriate to the topics under consideration.”
 — David S. Weishampel, Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University

“The topic is one of the most fascinating aspects of the general field of vertebrate paleobiology. The range of chapters and the reputation of the authors as experts in their fields make this a significant contribution.”
 — Bruce MacFadden, Florida Museum of Natural History

“A new approach to the study of major transitions between vertebrate groups, including the recognition of new transitional tissue types and fossils that are intermediate in structure between major groups, and new methods for integrating fossil analysis with developmental studies and for incorporating developmental data into phylogenetic analyses.”

“[This] book is a fine snapshot of current research on vertebrate macroevolution. 2010 No. 31”
 — The Systematist

“. . . This book is an outstanding contribution to evolutionary biology and paleontology. . . . Essential.”
 — Choice

“. . . this is a useful volume – the individual chapters offer a combination of reviews and important new data that will interest an audience that should extend beyond vertebrate palaeontology to zoologists and evolutionary biologists.2009”
 — Paul M. Barrett, Geological Magazine

“...the volume as a whole offers a good deal more than just overviews of new fossils, namely a window into the contemporary Zeitgeist of vertebrate palaeontology itself... Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution reviews the rapidly growing knowledge in several of the most pertinent cases, and it also epitomises much that is good about the present state of the art.157 2009”
 — T.S. Kemp, Zoological Jrnl Linnean Society

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Studying Evolutionary Transitions among Vertebrates Hans-Dieter Sues and Jason S. Anderson
1. Plasticity of and Transitions between Skeletal Tissues in Vertebrate Evolution and Development Brian K. Hall and P. Eckard Witten
2. Homologies and Evolutionary Transitions in Early Vertebrate History Philippe Janvier
3. Paired Fins of Jawless Vertebrates and Their Homologies across the "Agnathan"-Gnathostome Transition Mark V. H. Wilson, Gavin F. Hanke, and Tiiu Märss
4. MODEs of Developmental Evolution: An Example with the Origin and Definition of the Autopodium Hans C. E. Larsson
5. Incorporating Ontogeny into the Matrix: A Phylogenetic Evaluation of Developmental Evidence for the Origin of Modern Amphibians Jason S. Anderson
6. The Cranial Anatomy of Basal Diadectomorphs and the Origin of Amniotes Robert R. Reisz
7. Snake Phylogeny, Origins, and Evolution: The Role, Impact, and Importance of Fossils (1869<N>2006) Michael W. Caldwell
8. The Beginnings of Birds: Recent Discoveries, Ongoing Arguments, and New Directions Luis M. Chiappe and Gareth J. Dyke
9. Successive Diversifications in Early Mammalian Evolution Zhe-Xi Luo
10. The Terrestrial to Aquatic Transition in Cetacea Mark D. Uhen