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

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University of California Press, May 18, 2004 - Science - 368 pages
Mammals first evolved at about the same time as dinosaurs, and their story is perhaps the more fascinating of the two—in part because it is also our own story. In this literate and entertaining book, eminent naturalist David Rains Wallace brings the saga of ancient mammals to a general audience for the first time. Using artist Rudolph Zallinger's majestic The Age of Mammals mural at the Peabody Museum as a frame for his narrative, Wallace deftly moves over varied terrain—drawing from history, science, evolutionary theory, and art history—to present a lively account of fossil discoveries and an overview of what those discoveries have revealed about early mammals and their evolution.

In these pages we encounter towering mammoths, tiny horses, giant-clawed ground sloths, whales with legs, uintatheres, zhelestids, and other exotic extinct creatures as well as the scientists who discovered and wondered about their remains. We meet such memorable figures as Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Edward D. Cope, George Gaylord Simpson, and Stephen Jay Gould and learn of their heated disputes, from Cuvier's and Owen's fights with early evolutionists to present controversies over the Late Cretaceous mass extinction. Wallace's own lifelong interest in evolution is reflected in the book's evocative and engaging style and in the personal experiences he expertly weaves into the tale, providing an altogether expansive perspective on what Darwin described as the "grandeur" of evolution.
 

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User Review  - neurodrew - LibraryThing

This book of popular paleontology is organized around the "Age of Mammals" mural in the Peabody Museum. The topic is the discovery of the multiple strange mammals from the post-dinosaur past, and the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

Having not previously read any of this author's work, I'm particularly impressed at the way Wallace weaves together the interaction of the evolutionary theorists with our increasing understanding of ... Read full review

Contents

Pachyderms in the Catacombs
1
Doctor Jekyll and the Stonesfield Jaws
14
The Origin of Mammals
25
The Noblest Conquest
41
Terrible Horns and Heavy Feet
54
Mr Megatherium versus Professor Mylodon
70
Fire Beasts of the Antipodes
79
Titans on Parade
91
Shifting Ground
157
Dissolving Ancestries
166
Exploding Faunas
176
The Revenge of the Shell Hunters
188
Simpson Redivivus
198
Wind Thieves of the Kyzylkum
207
The Serpents Offering
216
Anthropoid Leapfrog
233

FiveToed Horses and Missing Links
104
The Invisible Dawn Man
115
A Bonaparte of Beasts
123
Love and Theory
135
Simpsons CynodonttoSmilodon Synthesis
145
CENOZOIC PARKS
249
NOTES
261
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
297
INDEX
315
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

David Rains Wallace is the author of fifteen books, including The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, California, 2003), winner of the John Burroughs Medal; The Bonehunter's Revenge: Dinosaurs, Greed, and the Greatest Scientific Feud of the Gilded Age (1999); and The Monkey's Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America (1997).

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