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Extinction and Radiation

Hardback
, 120 pages

3 b&w photos, 6 b&w illus., 12 line drawings, 6 maps, 14 graphs

ISBN:
9780801898051
February 2011
$69.00

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Extinction and Radiation

How the Fall of Dinosaurs Led to the Rise of Mammals

In the geological blink of an eye, mammals moved from an obscure group of vertebrates into a class of planetary dominance. Why? J. David Archibald's provocative study identifies the fall of dinosaurs as the factor that allowed mammals to evolve into the dominant tetrapod form.

Archibald refutes the widely accepted single-cause impact theory for dinosaur extinction. He demonstrates that multiple factors—massive volcanic eruptions, loss of shallow seas, and extraterrestrial impact—likely led to their demise. While their avian relatives ultimately survived and thrived, terrestrial dinosaurs did not. Taking their place as the dominant land and sea tetrapods were mammals, whose radiation was explosive following nonavian dinosaur extinction.

Archibald argues that because of dinosaurs, Mesozoic mammals changed relatively slowly for 145 million years compared to the prodigious Cenozoic radiation that followed. Finally out from under the shadow of the giant reptiles, Cenozoic mammals evolved into the forms we recognize today in a mere ten million years after dinosaur extinction.

Extinction and Radiation is the first book to convincingly link the rise of mammals with the fall of dinosaurs. Piecing together evidence from both molecular biology and the fossil record, Archibald shows how science is edging closer to understanding exactly what happened during the mass extinctions near the K/T boundary and the radiation that followed.

J. David Archibald is a professor of biology and curator of mammals at San Diego State University and coeditor of The Rise of Placental Mammals: Origins and Relationships of the Major Extant Clades, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"Highly recommended."

"A learned essay, written clearly and attractively for students and the public."

"What makes Archibald’s book a highly recommendable example of the scientific process is that the author carefully lays out all the paleontological evidence available to him and uses that evidence to evaluate the many possible explanations of the extinction, discussing the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of each explanation in the process."

"David Archibald is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about extinctions, as well as the fairest analyst of their patterns and causes. In this book he invites his readers to consider not just dinosaurs but all the animals that lived at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. He provides the clearest picture yet of this extremely complex time in the history of life. Anyone interested in paleontology or extinction, especially those who think they already know what did in the dinosaurs, should read this book."

"This is a learned essay, written clearly and attractively for students and the public."

"An excellent compendium of the current state of paleontological knowledge about the contemporaneous histories of these two groups."

"A highly recommendable example of the scientific process is that the author carefully lays out all the paleontological evidence available to him and uses that evidence to evaluate the many possible explanations of the extinction."

"The book itself is a handsome quarto volume illustrated by good drawings and graphs. It will be most useful to paleontologists, evolutionary biologists and biogeographers. It will stand as a good example of what can be accomplished in academia."

"Books like Extinction and Radiation enable interested members of the general public to share in the excitement of the arugment."

"This volume is logically organized, easily readable, and a noteworthy synthesis of the current state of our knowledge of the disappearance of nonavian dinosaurs and mammalian radiation. It is a useful reference from an acknowledged authority in the field and valuable for students, teachers, scientists, and all people interested in the evolution and fate of our planet and its biodiversity."

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