Most nonscientists are usually aware of fossils, and it is commonly believed that they are extremely rare. In fact, fossils are exceptionally common in many sedimentary rocks and are used extensively in geology for age dating, interpretation of ancient environments, and the discovery of natural resources. However, there is another type of fossil deposit that is truly rare. These rare fossil deposits, called Lagerstätten, preserve the remains of the soft tissues or the articulated skeletal remains of ancient creatures in truly astonishing fine detail. Some of these deposits are world-famous, such as the Burgess Shale, or Solnhofen but there are others dating from many different geological eras from the Paleozoic, up to the Eocene. Recently, a concerted effort has been made to understand the overall significance of these rare fossil deposits. Whereas in the past these deposits were considered novelties, modern researchers are trying to understand what they can tell us about ancient life and environments. New sophisticated techniques (including image and geochemical analyses) are providing enormous new contributions to our knowledge of Lagerstätten sites and to paleobiology in general. This volume describes many of the most famous Lagerstätten locations worldwide and is complete with over 70 superb halftones showing some of these exotic fossils in all their glory. Paleontologists are beginning to understand why such deposits occur, how they have varied since the advent of marine metazoan life, and how their presence effects our understanding of the evolution of life in the Earth's oceans. In this way, the study of Lagerstätten continues to move towards the mainstream of paleobiological, biological, and geological research, and away from its former status as the examination of mere curiosities. All those interested in these beautiful and sometimes enigmatic deposits will want to own this book.
Paleoecology is a discipline that uses evidence from fossils to provide an understanding of ancient environments and the ecological history of life through geological time. This text covers the fundamental approaches that have provided the foundation for present paleoecological understanding, and outlines new research areas in paleoecology for managing future environmental and ecological change. Topics include the use of actualism in paleoecology, development of paleoecological models for paleoenvironmental reconstruction, taphonomy and exceptional fossil preservation, evolutionary paleoecology and ecological change through time, and conservation paleoecology. Data from studies of invertebrates, vertebrates, plants and microfossils, with added emphasis on bioturbation and microbial sedimentary structures, are discussed. Examples from marine and terrestrial environments are covered, with a particular focus on periods of great ecological change, such as the Precambrian-Cambrian transition and intervals of mass extinction. Readership: This book is designed for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students in the earth and biological sciences, as well as researchers and applied scientists in a range of related disciplines.
The Florissant formation's fossil beds and petrified forest are interesting in themselves but also shed light on questions of paleoecology, macroevolution, and taphonomy (the study of the process of fossilization). Meyer (National Park Service. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado) and Smith (U. of Colorado Museum of Natural History--Paleontology/geological sciences, UC, Boulder) introduce 11 papers examining Florissant fossil flora, fauna, mineralogy and geochemistry through different periods and via a model of the role of microbial mats in its preservation. An integrated database/Web site to further related research is also discussed. The monograph is well-illustrated with geologic maps and images of historical figures in the field and specimens, but is not indexed.
"Rough-Hewn Land tells the geologic story of the American West--the story of its rocks, rivers, mountains, earthquakes, and mineral wealth, including gold. It tells it by taking you on a 1000-mile-long field trip across the rough side of the continent from the California coast to the Rocky Mountains. This book puts you on the outcrop, geologic hammer in hand, to explore the evidence for how the spectacular, rough-hewn lands of the West came to be. When North America broke free from Eurasia and Africa some 200 million years ago, it triggered a cascade of violent geologic events that shaped the West we see today. As the west-moving continent crunched across the seabed of the ancient Pacific, islands and assorted pieces of ocean floor collected against its prow to build California--and plant gold there too. Meanwhile, mountains squeezed upward from California to Colorado, and vast quantities of molten rock seeded the crust with precious metals while spewing volcanic fire across the land. Later, the land stretched like an accordion to form the washboard-like Basin and Range province and Great Basin within it, while California began to crackle along the San Andreas fault. Throughout the West today, a near-constant drumroll of earthquakes testifies to a world still reshaping itself in response to the ceaseless movements of the Earth's tectonic plates. Rough-Hewn Land weaves these stories into the human history of the West. As we follow the adventures of John C. Frémont, Mark Twain, the Donner party, and other historic characters, we see how geologic forces have shaped human experience, just as they direct the fate of the West today"--
Fossils provide a powerful tool for the study of the nearly4-billion-year history of life, and its role in the evolution ofEarth systems. They also provide important data for evolutionarystudies, and contribute to our understanding of the extinction oforganisms and the origins of modern biodiversity. Fossils At A Glance is written for students taking anintroductory level course in paleontology. Short chapters introducethe main topics in the modern study of fossils. The most importantfossil groups are discussed, from microfossils throughinvertebrates to vertebrates and plants, followed by a briefnarrative of life on Earth. Diagrams are central to the book and allow the reader to seemost of the important data “at a glance”. Each topiccovers two pages and provides a self-contained suite of informationor a starting point for future study. This second edition has been thoroughly revised and brought upto date. It includes new line diagrams as well as photographsof selected fossils
Compared to insects, fossil spiders have received only scant attention in the literature. Previously, the only works available were numerous scientific papers, many published in foreign languages. Most of these are basic descriptive taxonomic works, with very few considering broader biological concepts. Despite a significant increase in the discovery and description of fossil spiders within the last quarter Century this void remained unfilled. Thus, this short monograph aims to achieve several objectives. Firstly, to provide general and up to date background information on the overall importance and diversity of fossils spiders, including an indication of those groups for which the taxonomy is spurious and in need of reassessment. Secondly, to discuss the techniques available for working with fossil spiders and some of the problems encountered by palaeoarachnologists, including bias and limitations of the spider fossil record. Thirdly, the overall evolutionary history of spiders is summarized in the form of an evolutionary tree, which is subsequently used to address key issues of broad interest, such as origins, diversifications and extinctions, including the effects of mass extinctions and predator-prey co-radiations. Finally, the contribution that fossil data can make to understanding the past and present biogeography of the order is considered. This book should be of interest to both amateur and professional arachnologists and palaeontologists and will also serve as a general palaeontological reference work for neonologists studying extant spiders.
The extent to which human activity has influenced species extinctions during the recent prehistoric past remains controversial due to other factors such as climatic fluctuations and a general lack of data. However, the Holocene (the geological interval spanning the last 11,500 years from the end of the last glaciation) has witnessed massive levels of extinctions that have continued into the modern historical era, but in a context of only relatively minor climatic fluctuations. This makes a detailed consideration of these extinctions a useful system for investigating the impacts of human activity over time. Holocene Extinctions describes and analyses the range of global extinction events which have occurred during this key time period, as well as their relationship to both earlier and ongoing species losses. By integrating information from fields as diverse as zoology, ecology, palaeontology, archaeology and geography, and by incorporating data from a broad range of taxonomic groups and ecosystems, this novel text provides a fascinating insight into human impacts on global extinction rates, both past and present. This truly interdisciplinary book is suitable for both graduate students and researchers in these varied fields. It will also be of value and use to policy-makers and conservation professionals since it provides valuable guidance on how to apply lessons from the past to prevent future biodiversity loss and inform modern conservation planning.
Geobiology is an exciting and rapidly developing research discipline that opens new perspectives in understanding Earth as a system. To determine and to exploit its possibilities, this promising scientific field will benefit from a discussion of its definition as a research discipline, its objectives, and its methodological approaches. Such a spirited discussion is the goal of the book "Geobiology: Objectives, Concepts, Perspectives". Geobiology touches various subdisciplines of geology and biology in many ways. The book will serve biogeochemists, paleontologists, biomineralogists, microbiologists and many others as a forum to determine future directions of geobiological research. The book includes a section on the concept of geobiological studies, which combines the parent disciplines biology and geology. Several case studies describe geobiological investigations that serve to understand Earth in the present and past. The case studies give an overview of the general understanding of geobiology and lead the reader towards the current hot topics in this rising scientific discipline. * New definition of the rising scientific discipline "geobiology" * Overview into the broad spectrum of geobiological topics * Insight into hot topics of current geobiological research
Over the past decade, fossil finds from China have stunned the world, grabbing headlines and changing perceptions with a wealth of new discoveries. Many of these finds were first announced to English speakers in the journal Nature.Rise of the Dragon gathers together sixteen of these original reports, some augmented with commentaries originally published in Nature's "News and Views" section. Perhaps the best known of these new Chinese fossils are the famous feathered dinosaurs from Liaoning Province, which may help end one of the most intense debates in paleontology—whether birds evolved from dinosaurs. But other finds have been just as spectacular, such as the minutely preserved (to the cellular level) animal embryos of the 670 million-year-old Duoshantuo phosphorites, or the world's oldest known fish, from the Chengjiang formation in southwestern Yunnan Province. Rise of the Dragon makes descriptions and detailed discussions of these important finds available in one convenient volume for paleontologists and serious fossil fans.
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.
This is the first comprehensive source of information about Mexican fossils to be published in English. The book offers updated information in the fields of stratigraphy, sedimentology, tectonics, paleobiogeography, paleoclimatology and evolution. Included is an extensive bibliography of almost 1000 references related to the central topic, a tribute to two centuries of research.
The invasion of land by ocean-dwelling plants and animals was one of the most revolutionary events in the evolution of life on Earth, yet the animal invasion almost failed—twice—because of the twin mass extinctions of the Late Devonian Epoch. Some 359 to 375 million years ago, these catastrophic events dealt our ancestors a blow that almost drove them back into the sea. If those extinctions had been just a bit more severe, spiders and insects—instead of vertebrates—might have become the ecologically dominant forms of animal life on land. This book examines the profound evolutionary consequences of the Late Devonian extinctions and the various theories proposed to explain their occurrence. Only one group of four-limbed vertebrates exists on Earth, while other tetrapod-like fishes are extinct. This gap is why the idea of "fish with feet" seems so peculiar to us, yet such animals were once a vital part of our world, and if the Devonian extinctions had not happened, members of these species, like the famous Acanthostega and Ichthyostega, might have continued to live in our rivers and lakes. Synthesizing decades of research and including a wealth of new discoveries, this accessible, comprehensive text explores the causes of the Devonian extinctions, the reasons vertebrates were so severely affected, and the potential evolution of the modern world if the extinctions had never taken place.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is the location of one of the best-known terrestrial records for the late Cretaceous. A major effort in the new century has documented over 2,000 new vertebrate fossil sites, provided new radiometric dates, and identified five new genera of ceratopsids, two new species of hadrosaur, a probable new genus of hypsilophodontid, new pachycephalosaurs and ankylosaurs, several kinds of theropods (including a new genus of oviraptor and a new tyrannosaur), plus the most complete specimen of a Late Cretaceous therizinosaur ever collected from North America, and much more. At the Top of the Grand Staircase: The Late Cretaceous of Southern Utah documents this major stepping stone toward a synthesis of the ecology and evolution of the Late Cretaceous ecosystems of western North America.
Most major recent advances in understanding the history of life on Earth have been through the study of exceptionally well preserved biotas (Fossil-Lagerstätten). These are windows on the history of life on Earth and can provide a fairly complete picture of the evolution of ecosystems through time. This book follows the success of Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems by the same authors which covered Fossil-Lagerstätten around the world. The success of the first book prompted this new book which draws on four localities from the original book and adds another ten, all located in North America. Following an introduction to Fossil-Lagerstätten, each chapter deals with a single fossil locality. Each chapter contains a brief introduction placing the Lagerstätte in an evolutionary context; there then follows a history of study of the locality; the background sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeoenvironment; a description of the biota; discussion of the palaeoecology, and a comparison with other Lagerstätten of a similar age and/or environment. At the end of the book is an Appendix listing museums in which to see exhibitions of fossils from each locality and suggestions for visiting the sites.
For 150 million years, the skies didn't belong to birds--they belonged to the pterosaurs. These flying reptiles, which include the pterodactyls, shared the world with the nonavian dinosaurs until their extinction 65 million years ago. Some pterosaurs, such as the giant azhdarchids, were the largest flying animals of all time, with wingspans exceeding thirty feet and standing heights comparable to modern giraffes. This richly illustrated book takes an unprecedented look at these astonishing creatures, presenting the latest findings on their anatomy, ecology, and extinction. Pterosaurs features some 200 stunning illustrations, including original paintings by Mark Witton and photos of rarely seen fossils. After decades of mystery, paleontologists have finally begun to understand how pterosaurs are related to other reptiles, how they functioned as living animals, and, despite dwarfing all other flying animals, how they managed to become airborne. Here you can explore the fossil evidence of pterosaur behavior and ecology, learn about the skeletal and soft-tissue anatomy of pterosaurs, and consider the newest theories about their cryptic origins. This one-of-a-kind book covers the discovery history, paleobiogeography, anatomy, and behaviors of more than 130 species of pterosaur, and also discusses their demise at the end of the Mesozoic. The most comprehensive book on pterosaurs ever published Features some 200 illustrations, including original paintings by the author Covers every known species and major group of pterosaurs Describes pterosaur anatomy, ecology, behaviors, diversity, and more Encourages further study with 500 references to primary pterosaur literature
Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems describes all of the main Fossil Lagerstätten (sites of exceptional fossil preservation) from around the world in a chronological order. It covers the history of research, stratigraphy and taphonomy, main faunal and floral elements, and the palaeoecology of each site and gives a comparison with coeval sites around the world. It includes all of the well-known fossil sites, such as the Burgess Shale, the Solnhofen Limestone, Mazon Creek, Rancho La Brea etc., and includes an appendix giving information on how to visit the sites and where to see the fossils in museum displays. Available now in its second edition, Lagerstätten included for the first time include Chengjiang, the Herefordshire Nodules and the Jehol Group. A welcome addition to the list of important localities of Cenozoic age is the White River Group, which preserves the finest examples of mammals around the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, including many now-extinct groups. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with over 450 colour photographs and diagrams, and it is extensively referenced. Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems is essential reading to a wide range of students and professionals in palaeontology and related sciences, and to amateur enthusiasts.
This beautifully illustrated 2007 volume describes the entire flora and fauna of the famous Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation of Brazil - one of the world's most important fossil deposits, exhibiting exceptional preservation. A wide range of invertebrates and vertebrates are covered, including extended sections on pterosaurs and insects. Two chapters are devoted to plants. Many of the chapters include descriptions of new species and re-descriptions and appraisals of taxa published in obscure places, rendering them available to a wider audience. Fossil descriptions are supported by detailed explanations of the geological history of the deposit and its tectonic setting. Drawing on expertise from around the world and specimens from the most important museum collections, this book forms an essential reference for researchers and enthusiasts with an interest in Mesozoic fossils.
Presents cross-referenced essays on basic topics related to planetology and Earth from space; each essay includes an annotated bibliography.
The Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition was a time of fundamental change in the biosphere. Between about 570 and 510 million years ago, marine organisms underwent considerable evolutionary innovation during a time of shifting ecological setting. This dramatic activity culminated in the first stratigraphic appearances of many recognizable groups of animals, an "event" often referred to as the "Cambrian explosion". In addition, there was a major change from a microbial mat-dominated sediment-water interface to a more extensively burrowed interface in shallow-marine settings. The early fossil record is a function not only of the rise or ecological diversification of marine organisms, but also the development of taphonomic and sedimentary conditions suitable for the preservation of mineralizing and nonmineralizing organisms. This book is devoted to an exploration of some of the emerging concepts and techniques used to develop greater insight into the early record of biologic diversification and the preservational record of that diversification during the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition. * Addresses key issues related to the Cambrian diversification of multicellular animals * Provocative new ideas about the factors involved in the exceptional preservation of fossils, with a balance between the development of ideas and hypothesis testing * Broad coverage of topics related to the Cambrian diversification of animals and the fossil record of that diversification; broad geographic coverage