Living amniotes - including all mammals, birds, crocodilians, snakes, and turtles - comprise an extraordinarily varied array of more than 21,000 species. Found in every major habitat on earth, they possess a truly remarkable range of morphological, ecological, and behavioral adaptations. The fossil record of amniotes extends back three hundred million years and reveals much about modern biological diversity of form and function. A collaborative effort of twenty-four researchers, "Amniote Paleobiology" presents thirteen new and important scientific perspectives on the evolution and biology of this familiar group. It includes new discoveries of dinosaurs and primitive relatives of mammals; studies of mammalian chewing and locomotion; and examinations of the evolutionary process in plesiosaurs, mammals, and dinosaurs. Emphasizing the rich variety of analytical techniques available to vertebrate paleontologists - from traditional description to multivariate morphometrics and complex three-dimensional kinematics - "Amniote Paleobiology" seeks to understand how species are related to each other and what these relationships reveal about changes in anatomy and function over time.
A timely synthesis of modern contributions to the field of evolutionary studies, "Amniote Paleobiology" furthers our understanding of this diverse group.
Matthew Carrano is curator of dinosaurs in the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution. Timothy Gaudin is associate professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Richard Blob is assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University. John Wible is curator of mammals at the Carnegic Museum of Natural History.