The Bare Bones

The Bare Bones

An Unconventional Evolutionary History of the Skeleton
Matthew F. Bonnan
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/15/2016
Format: Hardback 223 b&w illus., 26 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01832-8
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What can we learn about the evolution of jaws from a pair of scissors? How does the flight of a tennis ball help explain how fish overcome drag? What do a spacesuit and a chicken egg have in common? Highlighting the fascinating twists and turns of evolution across more than 540 million years, paleobiologist Matthew Bonnan uses everyday objects to explain the emergence and adaptation of the vertebrate skeleton. What can camera lenses tell us about the eyes of marine reptiles? How does understanding what prevents a coffee mug from spilling help us understand the posture of dinosaurs? The answers to these and other intriguing questions illustrate how scientists have pieced together the history of vertebrates from their bare bones. With its engaging and informative text, plus more than 200 illustrative diagrams created by the author, The Bare Bones is an unconventional and reader-friendly introduction to the skeleton as an evolving machine.

Author Bio

Matthew F. Bonnan is a Vertebrate Paleontologist and Associate Professor of Biology at Stockton University. Bonnan's research focuses on the evolution of locomotion in sauropod dinosaurs and the functional morphology of forelimb posture in reptiles, birds, and mammals using traditional anatomy and computer-aided modeling.


“A clear, largely jargon-free retelling of one of the greatest stories in evolution—the rise of vertebrates—that should have broad appeal. It integrates the facts and principles that underlie evolutionary theory by taking a common-sense approach that doesn’t talk down to the reader.”
 — Nicholas Geist, Sonoma State University

“Highlighting the fascinating twists and turns of evolution across more than 540 million years, everyday objects explain the emergence and adaptation of the vertebrate skeleton.”

“Bonnan combines wit and passion with the sensibilities of a talented instructor in this encyclopedic tour of the vertebrate skeleton . . . accessible even for those without a background in anatomy.”
 — Publishers Weekly

“No bones about it, a text like The Bare Bones was sorely needed in the popular literature of vertebrate paleontology. Matthew Bonnan’s tome on the evolution, form, and function of the vertebrate skeleton may seem daunting in size, but it is written in an enjoyable and readable fashion that will absolutely delight all sorts of readers from expert to soon-to-be-expert.”
 — Palaeontologia Electronica

    "The Bare Bones covers a lot of ground, much of it familiar, but it is a remarkably fun book to read. Bonnan avoids the most intimidating jargon of anatomy and phylogenetics, elucidating the necessary concepts through clear writing and clever application of nonbiological analogies. He is forthcoming about the simplifications and omissions that make the volume so readable, and his conversational style and wit make this an unintimidating yet highly informative book that would work wonderfully in college courses."”
     — The Quarterly Review of Biology

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    Table of Contents

    Part One: Setting the Stage
    Chapter 1. Introduction: How Vertebrates and Cars Are (and Are Not) Similar
    Chapter 2. Evolution to Deep Time, Pedigree to Anatomy
    Part Two: The Origin and Early Evolution of the Vertebrate Chassis
    Chapter 3. Inferring the Basic Vertebrate Chassis
    Chapter 4. Evolution of a Bony Chassis
    Part Three: The Evolution of the Jawed Vertebrate Chassis and Something Fishy
    Chapter 5. The Jawed Vertebrate Chassis: A Primer
    Chapter 6. Placoderms and Cartilaginous Fishes
    Chapter 7. The Fish-like Osteichthyes, Part 1
    Chapter 8. The Fish-like Osteichthyes, Part 2
    Part Four: The Vertebrate Chassis Moves to Land
    Chapter 9. The Tetrapod Chassis: A Primer
    Chapter 10. The Tetrapod Chassis in Transition
    Chapter 11. The Amphibian Chassis
    Chapter 12. The Amniote Chassis: A Primer and the Lead Up to True Amniotes
    Part Five: Deep Scaly I: Reptilian Chasses from Early Reptiles to Sea Monsters
    Chapter 13. Lizards and the Tuatara as an Introduction
    Chapter 14. Early Reptiles and Turtles
    Chapter 15. Snakes and Sea Dragons
    Part Six: Deep Scaly II: The Archosaur Chassis, Those Ruling Reptiles
    Chapter 16. The Archosaur Chassis, Part 1: Modern Archosaurs
    Chapter 17. The Archosaur Chassis, Part 2: A Primer on Archosaur Posture and Diversity
    Chapter 18. The Archosaur Chassis, Part 3: Pterosaurs, Dinosaurs, and the Origins of Birds
    Part Seven: Overcome By Fur: The Mammalian Chassis
    Chapter 19. The Mammalian Chassis: A Primer
    Chapter 20. The Evolution of the Mammal Chassis
    Chapter 21. Brains, Milk, and the Modern Radiations of Mammals
    Appendix: The Cards of Time
    References Cited

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