After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals

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Indiana University Press, Jul 13, 2006 - Science - 384 pages
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Perhaps nudged over the evolutionary cliff by a giant boloid striking the earth, the incredible and fascinating group of animals called dinosaurs became extinct some 65 million years ago (except for their feathered descendants). In their place evolved an enormous variety of land creatures, especially the mammals, which in their way were every bit as remarkable as their Mesozoic cousins.

The Age of Mammals, the Cenozoic Era, has never had its Jurassic Park, but it was an amazing time in earth’s history, populated by a wonderful assortment of bizarre animals. The rapid evolution of thousands of species of mammals brought forth gigantic hornless rhinos, sabertooth cats, mastodonts and mammoths, and many other creatures—including our own ancestors.

Their story is part of a larger story of a world emerging from the greenhouse conditions of the Mesozoic, warming up dramatically about 55 million years ago, and then cooling rapidly so that 33 million years ago the glacial ice returned. The earth’s vegetation went through equally dramatic changes, from tropical jungles in Montana and forests at the poles, to grasslands and savannas across the entire world. Life in the sea also underwent striking evolution reflecting global climate change, including the emergence of such creatures as giant sharks, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales.

After the Dinosaurs is a book for everyone who has an abiding fascination with the remarkable life of the past.

 

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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

If I could give a book a rating of 3.75, that would be about right. As others have noted this is so much of a survey that it becomes less a history of the evolution of mammals and more of an ... Read full review

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 The End of the Dinosaurs?
23
The Paleocene
45
The Eocene
83
The Oligocene
141
The Miocene
181
The Pliocene
233
The Pleistocene
259
The Holocene
299
Bibliography
315
Index
349
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Page 338 - ZACHOS, JC, BREZA, JR and WISE, SW, 1992. Early Oligocene ice-sheet expansion on Antarctica. Stable isotope and sedimentological evidence from Kerguelen Plateau, southern Indian Ocean. Geology, 20: 569-573.
Page xiii - We are grateful to the National Science Foundation and the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society for support of this research.
Page 1 - Fossil hunting is far the most fascinating of all sports. I speak for myself, although I do not see how any true sportsman could fail to agree with me if he had tried bone digging. It has some danger, enough to give it zest and probably about as much as in the average modern engineered big-game hunt, and the danger is wholly to the hunter. It has uncertainty and excitement and all the thrills of gambling with none of its vicious features. The hunter never knows what his bag may be, perhaps nothing,...

About the author (2006)

Recipient of the 2013 James Shea Award of the National Association of Geology Teachers for outstanding writing and editing in the geosciences.

Donald R. Prothero is Emeritus Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He has published 32 books, including Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (IU Press, 2013); Rhinoceros Giants: The Paleobiology of Indricotheres; Earth: Portrait of a Planet; The Evolution of Earth; Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters; Catastrophes!; and After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals (IU Press, 2006).

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