Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other by David Rains Wallace

By David Rains Wallace

Mammals first advanced at in regards to the similar time as dinosaurs, and their tale might be the extra interesting of the two--in half since it can be our personal tale. during this literate and unique e-book, eminent naturalist David Rains Wallace brings the saga of historical mammals to a basic viewers for the 1st time. utilizing artist Rudolph Zallinger's majestic The Age of Mammals mural on the Peabody Museum as a body for his narrative, Wallace deftly strikes over diverse terrain--drawing from background, technological know-how, evolutionary conception, and paintings history--to current a full of life account of fossil discoveries and an summary of what these discoveries have published approximately early mammals and their evolution. In those pages we stumble upon towering mammoths, tiny horses, giant-clawed flooring sloths, whales with legs, uintatheres, zhelestids, and different unique extinct creatures in addition to the scientists who found and puzzled approximately their is still. We meet such memorable figures as Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Edward D. Cope, George Gaylord Simpson, and Stephen Jay Gould and examine in their heated disputes, from Cuvier's and Owen's fights with early evolutionists to give controversies over the overdue Cretaceous mass extinction. Wallace's personal lifelong curiosity in evolution is mirrored within the book's evocative and interesting type and within the own reports he expertly weaves into the story, offering an altogether expansive point of view on what Darwin defined because the "grandeur" of evolution.

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Additional resources for Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other Enigmas of Mammal Evolution

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A shorttailed one, A. medium, was “light like a gazelle or roe deer” and had prob8 pachyderms in the catacombs Figure 4. Cuvier’s restorations of Paris gypsum mammals. From Georges Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles (2d rev. , Paris, 1822), 3: 38, pl. 66. ably looked like one, although only distantly related to antelope or deer. The third species, A. minus, had the size and proportions of a hare, but, again, only a distant relationship to rabbits. Another fossil, the skeleton of a small clawed mammal, was an even greater departure from living European ones, and it permitted a spectacular demonstration of Cuvier’s anatomical powers.

Cuvier developed a technique he called “correlation of parts” to reconstruct animals from incomplete fossils. Even if only the teeth and feet of an animal remained, he could tell if it was a carnivore or an herbivore because carnivores had shearing teeth and claws; herbivores grinding teeth and hooves. The technique would prove to have limitations, but it worked so well for Cuvier that the novelist Honoré de Balzac hailed him as a magician. As he studied them through the next decade, Cuvier realized that the gypsum fossils were much more unusual than anyone had thought.

A lithograph of Buckland creeping into the cave by torchlight to observe resurrected hyenas gnawing pachyderm bones was one of the earliest full-blown prehistoric mammal reconstructions. As a cleric, eventually dean of Westminster Abbey, Buckland valued Cuvier’s reputation for piety as well as his anatomical knowledge. When he published a paper on a Stonesfield giant saurian that he had named Megalosaurus, he sent Cuvier a copy and received his blessing, predictably, since it upheld Cuvier’s belief that giant saurians occurred only in Secondary strata.

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