Tracing the history of life on earth, this highly readable volume describes the evolutionary forces that influenced the development of all animal species, including man. It is based on the work of more than 200 international authorities on paleontology and evolutionary biology, reflecting all important theories and techniques in these fields.
Essential background information is provided on paleontology, the theory and mechanisms of evolution, and the origin of life and early history of the earth. The book goes on to describe the geological epochs showing how each contributed to the great diversity of life on our planet. It explains scientifically the flourishing and eventual extinction of major animal groups. The picture it presents of these eras and their fauna is the result of current paleobiological research and the latest advances in biophysics, biochemistry, and genetics. The technique of radioactive dating, for example, enables scientists to determine with more precision than ever before the age of extinct animal groups and geological periods.
All significant evolutionary steps are thoroughly explained, including the movement from sea to land, the conquest of air, and the development of warmbloodedness. Because animal life and its phylogenetic development are influenced by plants, each geological period’s flora and its role in evolution is described.
The origin and development of our own species is covered in separate chapters devoted entirely to primates and humans. A chapter on domestic animals illustrates how man has systematically influenced the evolution of animal groups for his own use.
Here is a fascinating account of the history of animal life and the biological and geological processes involved in evolution. It is also an essential reference for all those interested in the study of evolu-tion, as well as biologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, and scientists in related fields.
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