Knowledge of the evolutionary history of birds has much improved in recent decades. Fossils from critical time periods are being described at unprecedented rates and modern phylogenetic analyses have provided a framework for the interrelationships of the extant groups. This book gives an overview of the avian fossil record and its paleobiological significance, and it is the only up-to-date textbook that covers both Mesozoic and more modern-type Cenozoic birds in some detail. The reader is introduced to key features of basal avians and the morphological transformations that have occurred in the evolution towards modern birds. An account of the Cenozoic fossil record sheds light on the biogeographic history of the extant avian groups and discusses fossils in the context of current phylogenetic hypotheses. This review of the evolutionary history of birds not only addresses students and established researchers, but it may also be a useful source of information for anyone else with an interest in the evolution of birds and a moderate background in biology and geology.
Avian Biology, Volume III is a collection of articles that deals with the biology of birds such as their peripheral endocrine glands and reproductive system. One paper describes the avian reproductive system where physiological mechanisms that regulate gametogenesis get synchronized from stimuli in the environment, thus ensuring that the young are born at the appropriate season. Another paper correlates the morphology of the pituitary cells with the functions of the pituitary from physiological and chemical analyses. A couple of papers describes the peripheral endocrine glands and the process of neuroendocrinology that includes detailed analyses of the neurosecretory system anatomy and the ependymal function in the median eminence composed of the anterior and posterior divisions. One author describes the structure and refraction of avian vision, as well as the probable determination of visual pigments in the eye cones through in situ microspectrophotometry. The book then analyzes bird behavior through functional groups of bird activities. Bird enthusiasts, zoologists, and avian biologists will find this book interesting and informative.
An exploration of all that is known about the origin of birds and of avian flight. It draws on fossil evidence and studies of the structure and biochemistry of living birds to present knowledge and data on avian evolution and to propose a new model of this evolutionary process.
Birds are among the most successful vertebrates on Earth. An important part of our natural environment and deeply embedded in our culture, birds are studied by more professional ornithologists and enjoyed by more amateur enthusiasts than ever before. However, both amateurs and professionals typically focus on birds' behaviour and appearance and only superficially understand the characteristics that make birds so unique. The Inner Bird introduces readers to the avian skeleton, then moves beyond anatomy to discuss the relationships between birds and dinosaurs and other early ancestors. Gary Kaiser examines the challenges scientists face in understanding avian evolution - even recent advances in biomolecular genetics have failed to provide a clear evolutionary story. Using examples from recently discovered fossils of birds and near-birds, Kaiser describes an avian history based on the gradual abandonment of dinosaur-like characteristics, and the related acquisition of avian characteristics such as sophisticated flight techniques and the production of large eggs. Such developments have enabled modern birds to invade the oceans and to exploit habitats that excluded dinosaurs for millions of years. While ornithology is a complex discipline that draws on many fields, it is nevertheless burdened with obsolete assumptions and archaic terminology. The Inner Bird offers modern interpretations for some of those ideas and links them to more current research. It should help anyone interested in birds to bridge the gap between long-dead fossils and the challenges faced by living species.
Nature has published news about the history of life ever since its first issue in 1869, in which T. H. Huxley ("Darwin's bulldog") wrote about Triassic dinosaurs. In recent years, the field has enjoyed a tremendous flowering due to new investigative techniques drawn from cladistics (a revolutionary method for charting evolutionary relationships) and molecular biology. Shaking the Tree brings together nineteen review articles written for Nature over the past decade by many of the major figures in paleontology and evolution, from Stephen Jay Gould to Simon Conway Morris. Each article is brief, accessible, and opinionated, providing "shoot from the hip" accounts of the latest news and debates. Topics covered include major extinction events, homeotic genes and body plans, the origin and evolution of the primates, and reconstructions of phylogenetic trees for a wide variety of groups. The editor, Henry Gee, gives new commentary and updated references. Shaking the Tree is a one-stop resource for engaging overviews of the latest research in the history of life on Earth.
A small set of fossilized bones discovered almost thirty years ago led paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee on a lifelong quest to understand their place in our understanding of the history of life. They were clearly the bones of something unusual, a bird-like creature that lived long, long ago in the age of dinosaurs. He called it Protoavis, and the animal that owned these bones quickly became a contender for the title of "oldest known bird." In 1997, Chatterjee published his findings in the first edition of The Rise of Birds. Since then Chatterjee and his colleagues have searched the world for more transitional bird fossils. And they have found them. This second edition of The Rise of Birds brings together a treasure trove of fossils that tell us far more about the evolution of birds than we once dreamed possible. With no blind allegiance to what he once thought he knew, Chatterjee devours the new evidence and lays out the most compelling version of the birth and evolution of the avian form ever attempted. He takes us from Texas to Spain, China, Mongolia, Madagascar, Australia, Antarctica, and Argentina. He shows how, in the "Cretaceous Pompeii" of China, he was able to reconstruct the origin and evolution of flight of early birds from the feathered dinosaurs that lay among thousands of other amazing fossils. Chatterjee takes us to where long-hidden bird fossils dwell. His compelling, occasionally controversial, revelations—accompanied by spectacular illustrations—are a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the evolution of "the feathered dinosaurs," from vertebrate paleontologists and ornithologists to naturalists and birders. -- Alan Feduccia, University of North Carolina
The use of DNA and other biological macromolecules has revolutionized systematic studies of evolutionary history. Methods that use sequences of nucleotides and amino acids are now routinely used as data for addressing evolutionary questions that, although not new questions, have defied description and analysis. The world-renowned contributors use these new methods to unravel particular aspects of the evolutionary history of birds. Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics presents an overview of the theory and application of molecular systematics, focusing on the phylogeny and evolutionary biology of birds. New, developing areas in the phylogeny of birds at multiple taxonomic areas are covered, as well as methods of analysis for molecular data, evolutionary genetics within and between bird populations, and the application of molecular-based phylogenies to broader questions of evolution. Contains authoritative contributions from leading researchers Discusses the utility of different molecular markers for questions of avian evolution, involving populations and higher-level taxa Applies molecular-based phylogenies of birds and molecular population genetics data to broad questions of organismal and molecular evolution. Compares and contrasts molecular and morphological data sets
This 2005 edition of The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs is a unique, comprehensive treatment of this fascinating group of organisms. It is a detailed survey of dinosaur origins, their diversity, and their eventual extinction. The book can easily be used as a teaching textbook for a class, but it is also written as a series of readable, entertaining essays covering important and timely topics appealing to non-specialists and all dinosaur enthusiasts: birds as 'living dinosaurs', the new feathered dinosaurs from China, 'warm-bloodedness'. Along the way, the reader learns about dinosaur functional morphology, physiology, and systematics using cladistic methodology - in short, how professional paleontologists and dinosaur experts go about their work, and why they find it so rewarding. The book is spectacularly illustrated by John Sibbick, a world-famous illustrator of dinosaurs, commissioned exclusively for this book.
This special issue highlights current research in avian genomics. Most contributions relate to the chicken as the model bird species, but advances in the genomics of turkey, duck and other birds are also presented. With a mixture of review articles and original research papers, this publication illustrates how advances in avian genomics have impacted on a wide range of disciplines such as cytogenetics, genetics, immunology, evolution and development. The many resources that are now available to researchers are also described. The knowledge gained from the avian genomes is not just applicable to bird species but offers a useful comparative tool that helps further research across many species. The study of the avian genomes is also shown to play an important role in the fields of agriculture and human health, e.g. in respect to avian influenza. Well edited and up-to-date, this issue is recommended reading to scientists working in any of the above-mentioned fields of avian research.
The reader of this comprehensive presentation benefits from an outstanding overview of all aspects of the fascinating phenomenon of bird migration. The book is written by leading experts from around the world. The text summarizes reviews and discussions of the most recent hypotheses. In doing so, it covers the entire research field from phenomenology through to ecology, physiology, control mechanisms, orientation, evolutionary aspects and conservation measures. It also examines the most modern methodological approaches including, satellite trakcking, molecular techniques or stable isotope investigations and envisages forthcoming developments in the course of global warming.
Over the past twenty years, paleontologists have made tremendous fossil discoveries, including fossils that mark the growth of whales, manatees, and seals from land mammals and the origins of elephants, horses, and rhinos. Today there exists an amazing diversity of fossil humans, suggesting we walked upright long before we acquired large brains, and new evidence from molecules that enable scientists to decipher the tree of life as never before. The fossil record is now one of the strongest lines of evidence for evolution. In this engaging and richly illustrated book, Donald R. Prothero weaves an entertaining though intellectually rigorous history out of the transitional forms and series that dot the fossil record. Beginning with a brief discussion of the nature of science and the "monkey business of creationism," Prothero tackles subjects ranging from flood geology and rock dating to neo-Darwinism and macroevolution. He covers the ingredients of the primordial soup, the effects of communal living, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, the mammalian explosion, and the leap from chimpanzee to human. Prothero pays particular attention to the recent discovery of "missing links" that complete the fossil timeline and details the debate between biologists over the mechanisms driving the evolutionary process. Evolution is an absorbing combination of firsthand observation, scientific discovery, and trenchant analysis. With the teaching of evolution still an issue, there couldn't be a better moment for a book clarifying the nature and value of fossil evidence. Widely recognized as a leading expert in his field, Prothero demonstrates that the transformation of life on this planet is far more awe inspiring than the narrow view of extremists.
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One of the leading textbooks in its field, Bringing Fossils to Life applies paleobiological principles to the fossil record while detailing the evolutionary history of major plant and animal phyla. It incorporates current research from biology, ecology, and population genetics, bridging the gap between purely theoretical paleobiological textbooks and those that describe only invertebrate paleobiology and that emphasize cataloguing live organisms instead of dead objects. For this third edition Donald R. Prothero has revised the art and research throughout, expanding the coverage of invertebrates and adding a discussion of new methodologies and a chapter on the origin and early evolution of life.
Avian Genetics: A Population and Ecological Approach is a collection of papers that deals with the study of birds in relation to the synthetic theory of evolution. This book studies the ecology, demography, behavior, and geographical distribution of birds; the text also discusses quantitative, chromosomal, biochemical, and population genetics. Part I reviews the various genetic interactions, including an analysis of DNA sequence variation. The different and newer techniques are compared such as the works of Sibley, Quinn, and White. Part II describes the molding genetic variation and covers topics such as inbreeding; gene flow and the genetic structure of populations; non-random mating; and the process of selection in natural populations of birds. Part III covers actual genetic case histories, including quantitative ecological genetics of great tits; genetic evolution of house sparrows; and presentation of evidence for sexual selection by female choice in the Arctic Skua. This book also presents future research in subjects such as the neutrality-selection controversy or genetics and conservation. This text can be beneficial for ecologists, ornithologists, animal conservationists, and population biologists studying birds.