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Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea

Hardback
, 240 pages

280 b&w illus.

ISBN:
9780801872235
January 2003
$88.00

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Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea

One Hundred Million Years of Evolution

From kangaroos and koalas to the giant Diprotodon and bizarre "thingodontans," prehistoric mammals evolved within the changing and sometimes harsh environments of Australia. As part of Gondwana, Australia was the first landmass to be isolated from the supercontinent Pangaea. In Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea, four respected paleontologists present a history of the development of modern mammals from the unique evolutionary environment of Australia and New Guinea. The authors describe both what is known about prehistoric Australian mammals and what can be reconstructed from the fossil evidence about their appearance and behaviors.

This accessible reference work offers facts about how each mammal got its name and provides a description of how the fossil mammal resembles its modern descendants. Over 200 four-color illustrations enhance the text, which describes the age, diet, and habitat of these extinct mammals. The authors also detail how each mammal evolved and is now classified. Diagrams showing skeletal features and tooth structure and a glossary of technical terms are also included.

John A. Long is the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Western Australian Museum and the author of The Rise of Fishes, also available from Johns Hopkins. Michael Archer is the director of the Australian Museum in Sydney and a professor of biological science at the University of New South Wales. Timothy Flannery is the director of the South Australian Museum in Adelaide and an acclaimed author. Suzanne Hand is the senior project scientist in the School of Biological Science at the University of New South Wales.

"We are just beginning to understand the history of the Australian mammalian fauna. The authors of this volume have devoted their professional lives to the painstaking task of breathing life into old bones. They here provide a compendium of the most current information on the fossil taxa, how they resemble their closest relatives, and what may be inferred about their way of life. Readers will not only find this book to be a guide to the past mammalian fauna of Australia but also a means of understanding how scientists work at deciphering this story."