The Origin and Evolution of Birds

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9780300064605: The Origin and Evolution of Birds
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This text is a comprehensive and illustrated discussion of the origin of birds and of avian flight. Ornithologist and evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia, author of "Age of Birds," here draws on fossil evidence and studies of the structure and biochemistry of living birds to present knowledge and data on avian evolution and propose a model of this evolutionary process. Feduccia begins with an overview of bird evolution, giving his opinions about the controversial problem in verte-brate paleontology: whether birds evolved directly from bipedal, terrestrial dinosaurs (the ground-up theory) or from the precursors of dinosaurs - perhaps small arboreal thecodonts (the trees-down theory). He then provides information about the origin of avian flight and feathers and discusses the most dramatic discoveries in avian paleontolgy of the past few decades - the "opposite birds" that were the dominant landbirds of the Mesozoic. Feduccia next offers a theory of avian evolution during the Tertiary, arguing that the evolution of birds follows a pattern similar to that of mammals, with an explosive (rather than gradual) evolution lasting only 5 to 10 million years. In the second half of the book he summarizes the evolution of all the modern orders of birds, discussing such subjects as the evolution of filter-feeding in ducks and flamingos, the evolution of flightlessness, the evolution of birds of prey and the rise of landbirds. The book also includes reconstructions of ancient fossil birds that have been prepared by bird artist John O'Neill.

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About the Author:

Alan Feduccia is S. K. Heninger Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

From Library Journal:

Feduccia (Catesby's Birds of Colonial America, LJ 10/15/85) draws from his career as a noted paleontologist to provide a comprehensive review of the current information on vertebrate evolution, explaining the rise of modern-day birds. From the earliest fossil records to the specialized forms of today (flightless birds, raptors, wading birds, and perching birds), prominent theories are evaluated through the author's scientifically conservative "facts only" perspective. The theory that hot-blooded, intelligent dinosaurs were early ancestors is debunked, and the accepted "ground-up" evolution of birds is reversed with an innovative "tree-down" hypothesis. Relationships between existing species are assessed through the principles of evolutionary convergence and adaptive radiation. This fact-filled, well-illustrated, and accurate work will enthrall serious science readers, but the technical vocabulary will put off casual browsers. Highly recommended for educated lay readers interested in ornithology, dinosaurs, or evolution.?Frank Reiser, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780300078619: The Origin and Evolution of Birds

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ISBN 10: 0300078617 ISBN 13: 9780300078619
Publisher: Yale University Press, 1999
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