Download e-book for iPad: Beasts of Eden: Walking Whales, Dawn Horses, and Other by David Rains Wallace

By David Rains Wallace

ISBN-10: 0520246845

ISBN-13: 9780520246843

Mammals first developed at in regards to the related time as dinosaurs, and their tale might be the extra attention-grabbing of the two--in half since it can be our personal tale. during this literate and interesting booklet, eminent naturalist David Rains Wallace brings the saga of historical mammals to a normal 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 various terrain--drawing from background, technological know-how, evolutionary concept, and artwork history--to current a full of life account of fossil discoveries and an outline of what these discoveries have printed approximately early mammals and their evolution. In those pages we come across towering mammoths, tiny horses, giant-clawed floor 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 study 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 fascinating kind and within the own stories he expertly weaves into the story, supplying an altogether expansive point of view on what Darwin defined because the "grandeur" of evolution.

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

Example text

Coryphodon and Oxyaena, with Pelycodus (Eocene) from Zallinger’s Age of Mammals mural. Courtesy Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. O. C. Marsh would vindicate it in 1876 when he announced the discovery of a whole Coryphodon skeleton in the Rocky Mountains. ” It was the most primitive large mammal then known. Of course, Owen didn’t seem like a cornered predator from the outside. He spent the half century after his 1830s triumphs over Grant and other early transmutationists filling in the mammalian history that Cuvier’s Paris basin studies had begun.

Most naturalists accepted the Stonesfield jaws as Secondary mammals after the Basilosaurus coup, and Owen must have felt that he had vindicated Cuvier despite disproving his rule that mammals lived only in the Tertiary. He had upheld the baron’s deeper rule that neither anatomy nor fossils showed reptiles transmuting into mammals. Owen instead of Grant had become the official “English Cuvier,” a gratifyingly high status for the thirty-five-year-old son of a failed West Indies merchant. Indeed, he had become the first truly professional English naturalist, and in 1841 he coined the most famous paleontological term when he named Buckland’s and Mantell’s saurians “terrible lizards”— dinosaurs.

As he studied them through the next decade, Cuvier realized that the gypsum fossils were much more unusual than anyone had thought. In the first place, they were embedded deep in the sedimentary rock, unlike most fossil bones then known, which came from loose surface deposits of sand or gravel. This meant, according to Wernerian stratification, that they were much older than fossils such as mammoths. Cuvier thought that the gypsum had formed “many thousands of centuries” before the present. In the second place, some of the species he restored were much less like living French mammals even than mammoths were like elephants.

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

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