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Mammal Teeth

Hardback
, 320 pages

6 b&w photos, 6 b&w illus., 1 halftone, 92 line drawings

ISBN:
9780801896682
August 2010
$95.00

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Mammal Teeth

Origin, Evolution, and Diversity

In this unique book, Peter S. Ungar tells the story of mammalian teeth from their origin through their evolution to their current diversity.

Mammal Teeth traces the evolutionary history of teeth, beginning with the very first mineralized vertebrate structures half a billion years ago. Ungar describes how the simple conical tooth of early vertebrates became the molars, incisors, and other forms we see in mammals today. Evolutionary adaptations changed pointy teeth into flatter ones, with specialized shapes designed to complement the corresponding jaw.

Ungar explains tooth structure and function in the context of nutritional needs. The myriad tooth shapes produced by evolution offer different solutions to the fundamental problem of how to squeeze as many nutrients as possible out of foods. The book also highlights Ungar's own path-breaking studies that show how microwear analysis can help us understand ancient diets.

The final part of the book provides an in-depth examination of mammalian teeth today, surveying all orders in the class, family by family. Ungar describes some of the more bizarre teeth, such as tusks, and the mammal diversity that accompanies these morphological wonders.

Mammal Teeth captures the evolution of mammals, including humans, through the prism of dental change. Synthesizing decades of research, Ungar reveals the interconnections among mammal diet, dentition, and evolution. His book is a must-read for paleontologists, mammalogists, and anthropologists.

Peter S. Ungar is Distinguished Professor and chair of anthropology at the University of Arkansas.

"Nothing about mammals makes sense except in the light of their teeth! In this impressive, comprehensive volume Peter Ungar explores every aspect of mammalian teeth—their evolutionary origin, histology, development, and fundamental physiological role in fueling a high-energy, endothermic lifestyle. Ungar explains how teeth allow high-resolution tracking of 200 million years of mammalian radiation, thanks to the fortuitous combination of their fossilizability and their relationship to trophic biology. No mammalogist, paleontological or neontological, will want to be without this excellent work."

"Food processing is fundamental to the way animals meet the energy requirements of life. Peter Ungar captures several fundamental aspects of how animals do this—by growing teeth with such exquisitely adapted physical and structural properties and with such a diversity of size and shape! Never has this subject been better captured."

"A pick for any college-level collection strong in natural history."

"In this wonderful volume, anthropologist-paleontologist Ungar provides the most complete source available (or imaginable) on the subject... Highly recommended."

" Mammal Teeth is a highly valuable contribution to recent literature on the important subject of dental morphology and evolution."

"A superb reference book for anyone with an interest in the subject... I wholeheartedly recommend the purchase of Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity to anyone with an interest in dental morphology and the teeth of mammals."

"Ungar's book is a superb overview of the field of dental morphology, structured in an easily accessible format. Mammal Teeth is an outstanding and valuable resource for the novice or student starting out in the field, and it can also be used successfully as a reference for professional biologists or odontologists."

"An invaluable reference on this fascinating subject for readers at all levels."

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