Forerunners of Mammals

Forerunners of Mammals

Radiation • Histology • Biology
Edited by Anusuya CHINSAMY-TURAN
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/18/2011
Format: Hardback 27 color illus., 78 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35697-0
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About 320 million years ago a group of reptiles known as the synapsids emerged and forever changed Earth’s ecological landscapes. This book discusses the origin and radiation of the synapsids from their sail-backed pelycosaur ancestor to their diverse descendants, the therapsids or mammal-like reptiles, that eventually gave rise to mammals. It further showcases the remarkable evolutionary history of the synapsids in the Karoo Basin of South Africa and the environments that existed at the time. By highlighting studies of synapsid bone microstructure, it offers a unique perspective of how such studies are utilized to reconstruct various aspects of biology, such as growth dynamics, biomechanical function, and the attainment of sexual and skeletal maturity. A series of chapters outline the radiation and phylogenetic relationships of major synapsid lineages and provide direct insight into how bone histological analyses have led to an appreciation of these enigmatic animals as once-living creatures. The penultimate chapter examines the early radiation of mammals from their nonmammalian cynodont ancestors, and the book concludes by engaging the intriguing question of when and where endothermy evolved among the therapsids.

Author Bio

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.


“Ever since Nick Hotton's book from the 1980s we have needed an update on the biology of therapsids, and it has been Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan and her students and associates who through their bone histological work have made the greatest progress in this field.”
 — Martin Sander, Steinmann 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, and the final chapter is a discussion of the evolution of endothermy that anyone with a background in biology might find of interest. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Forerunners of Mammals will take interested readers beyond the classic jaw-to-ear appreciation of therapsids, towards a deeper appreciation of the ancestry of mammals.”
 — Journal of Mammalian Evolution

“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

“[T]he authors of Forerunners of Mammals have assembled a tremendous amount of information in both paleontology and paleohistology, and the book deserves very serious consideration and appreciation.”
 — Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

“This remarkable book on the radiation, histology, and biology of the synapsids documents the bone microstructure of these forerunners of mammals, provides insights into their biology, and highlights areas for future research.”

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors
1. The Origin and Radiation of Therapsids \ Tom S. Kemp
2. Therapsid Biodiversity Patterns and Paleoenvironments of the Karoo Basin, South Africa \ Roger Smith, Bruce Rubidge, and Merrill van der Walt
3. The Microstructure of Bones and Teeth of Nonmammalian Therapsids \ Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
4. The Paleobiology and Bone Microstructure of Pelycosaurian-Grade Synapsids \ Adam K. Huttenlocker and Elizabeth Rega
5. Dicynodont Growth Dynamics and Lifestyle Adaptations \ Sanghamitra Ray, Jennifer Botha-Brink, and Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
6. Biological Inferences of the Cranial Microstructure of the Dicynodonts Oudenodon and Lystrosaurus \ Sandra C. Jasinoski and Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
7. Bone and Dental Histology of Late Triassic Dicynodonts from North America \ Jeremy L. Green
8. Bone Histology of Some Therocephalians and Gorgonopsians, and Evidence of Bone Degradation by Fungi \ Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan and Sanghamitra Ray
9. The Radiation and Osteohistology of Nonmammaliaform Cynodonts \ Jennifer Botha-Brink, Fernando Abdala, and Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
10. The Radiation, Bone Histology, and Biology of Early Mammals \ Jørn H. Hurum and Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
11. The Evolution of Mammalian Endothermy \ John A. Ruben, Willem J. Hillenius, Tom S. Kemp, and Devon E. Quick

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