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The Rise of Animals

, 344 pages

677 color illus.

January 2008



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The Rise of Animals

Evolution and Diversification of the Kingdom Animalia

Winner, 2009 Victorian Premier's Literary Prize for Science Writing

Among the major events in evolutionary history, few rival in importance the appearance of animals. The Rise of Animals—a significant reference providing a comprehensive synthesis of the early radiation of the animal kingdom—fully captures this moment in geologic time.

Five of the world's leading paleontologists take us on a journey to the most important fossil sites that serve as unique windows to the earliest animal life—including the Ediacara Hills of Australia, the Russian taiga and tundra, the deserts of southwest Africa, and the rugged coasts of Newfoundland. Each of these places holds a rich fossil record that reveals how the animal form came into existence and why some groups succeeded while others failed. The authors describe the diversification of the Kingdom Animalia into the familiar body plans of today: from simple animals such as sponges to complex groups like mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, and chordates that appear explosively in the Cambrian.

This exquisitely illustrated book reveals the early moments of an evolutionary process that eventually resulted in our own species. An essential resource for paleontologists, biologists, geologists, and teachers, The Rise of Animals is the best single reference on one of earth’s most significant events.

Mikhail A. Fedonkin is the head of the Precambrian Laboratory at the Russian Academy of Sciences. James G. Gehling is the senior curator at the South Australian Museum. Kathleen Grey is the chief paleontologist at the Geological Survey of Western Australia. Guy M. Narbonne is a professor and Queen's Research Chair at Queens University, Canada. Patricia Vickers-Rich holds a personal chair of paleontology and is founding director of the Monash Science Centre at Monash University in Australia.

"It's a beautiful book and the definitive account of the period... I love it and expect it to become a classic."

" The Rise of Animals offers a much-needed avenue to communicate to the general public the past decade's exciting discoveries of Ediacaran fossils."

"It's a magnificent book, not only because it is unique, but also because it has been produced in a wonderful way with so many text figures, many of them in good colors. This gives a good picture of the appearance of the animals as well as of the environment in which they must have occurred."

"Recommended. Informed general readers; researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners."

"A one-stop shop for up-to-date information about this puzzling meagerie... non-professionals will likewise find that it is a fine-looking book that captures the excitement of scientific discovery."

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