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Shaking the Tree

Readings from Nature in the History of Life

Nature has published news about the history of life ever since its first issue in 1869, in which T. H. Huxley ("Darwin’s bulldog") wrote about Triassic dinosaurs. In recent years, the field has enjoyed a tremendous flowering due to new investigative techniques drawn from cladistics (a revolutionary method for charting evolutionary relationships) and molecular biology.

Shaking the Tree brings together nineteen review articles written for Nature over the past decade by many of the major figures in paleontology and evolution, from Stephen Jay Gould to Simon Conway Morris. Each article is brief, accessible, and opinionated, providing "shoot from the hip" accounts of the latest news and debates. Topics covered include major extinction events, homeotic genes and body plans, the origin and evolution of the primates, and reconstructions of phylogenetic trees for a wide variety of groups. The editor, Henry Gee, gives new commentary and updated references.

Shaking the Tree is a one-stop resource for engaging overviews of the latest research in the history of life on Earth.

Color versions of thirteen illustrations that appear only in black-and-white in the text.


418 pages | 107 illustrations | 6 x 9 | © 2000

Biological Sciences: Evolutionary Biology

Earth Sciences: Paleontology

Table of Contents

Introduction: Shaken and Stirred—Henry Gee
Part 1: Shaping the Tree: How to Create a Tree of Life
"Punctuated Equilibrium Comes of Age"—Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge
"The Major Evolutionary Transitions"—Eörs Szathmáry and John Maynard Smith
"The Powers and Pitfalls of Parsimony"—Caro-Beth Stewart
Part 2: Geoffroy’s Legacy: Development, Evolution and Paleontology
"Homeotic Genes and the Evolution of Arthropods and Chordates"—Sean B. Carroll
"A Common Plan for Dorsoventral Patterning in Bilateria"—E. M. De Robertis and Yoshiki Sasai
"Fossils, Genes and the Evolution of Animal Limbs"—Neil H. Shubin, Cliff Tabin and Sean Carroll
"The Fossil Record and the Early Evolution of the Metazoa"—S. Conway Morris
Part 3: Seeing the Tree for the Woods: The Global Context
"Latest Proterozoic Stratigraphy and Earth History"—Andrew H. Knoll and Malcolm R. Walter
"The Early Development of Terrestrial Ecosystems"—William A. Shear
"The Permo-Triassic Extinction"—Douglas H. Erwin
Part 4: Shaking the Tree: Case Histories in Phylogeny
"The Origin and Early Evolution of Plants on Land"—Paul Kenrick and Peter Crane
"The Origin and Early Diversification of Angiosperms"—Peter R. Crane, Else Marie Friis and Kaj Raunsgaard Pedersen
"Agnathans and the Origin of Jawed Vertebrates"—Peter Forey and Philippe Janvier
"The Origin and Early Diversification of Tetrapods"—Per E. Ahlberg and Andrew R. Milner
"The First 85 Million Years of Avian Evolution"—Luis M. Chiappe
"Mammalian Phylogeny: Shaking the Tree"—Michael J. Novacek
Part 5: Climbing Down: The History of Primates
"Primate Origins: Plugging the Gaps"—Robert D. Martin
"Evolution and Environment in the Hominoidea"—Peter Andrews
"Origin and Evolution of the Genus Homo"—Bernard Wood
Afterword—Henry Gee
Index

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