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Embryos in Deep Time: The Rock Record of Biological Development by Marcelo R. Sanchez.
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DESCRIPTION: Hardcover (with printed boards). Publisher: University of California (2012). Pages: 265. Size: 8¼ x 5½ inches; 1¼ pounds.. How can we bring together the study of genes, embryos and fossils? “Embryos in Deep Time” is a critical synthesis of the study of individual development in fossils. It brings together an up-to-date review of concepts from comparative anatomy, ecology and developmental genetics, and examples of different kinds of animals from diverse geological epochs and geographic areas.
Can fossil embryos demonstrate evolutionary changes in reproductive modes? How have changes in ocean chemistry in the past affected the development of marine organisms? What can the microstructure of fossil bone and teeth reveal about maturation time, longevity and changes in growth phases? This book addresses these and other issues and documents with numerous examples and illustrations how fossils provide evidence not only of adult anatomy but also of the life history of individuals at different growth stages. The central topic of Biology today—the transformations occurring during the life of an organism and the mechanisms behind them—is addressed in an integrative manner for extinct animals.
CONDITION: NEW. New hardcover (with printed boards, no dustjacket, as published). University of California (2012) 265 pages. Unblemished,unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp,unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfactionunconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments,no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING!Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. Weaccept returns for any reason within 14 days! #8402a.
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REVIEW: Can fossil embryos demonstrate evolutionary changes in reproductive modes? How have changes in ocean chemistry in the past affected the development of marine organisms? And, what can the microstructure of fossil bone and teeth reveal about maturation time, longevity and changes in growth phases? This book addresses these and other issues.
REVIEW: Table of Fossils, Ontogeny, and Phylogeny.
2. Evo-Devo, Plasticity, and Modules.
3. Fossilized Vertebrate Ontogenies.
4. Bones and Teeth under the Microscope.
5. Proportions, Growth, and Taxonomy.
6. Growth and Diversification Patterns.
7. Fossils and Developmental Genetics.
8. Missing Links and the Evolution of Development.
9. Mammalian and Human Development.
10. On Trilobites, Shells, and Bugs.
Epilogue: Is There a Moral to Developmental
REVIEW: Dr. Marcelo Sanchezis an Assistant Professor for Paleontology at the PalaontologischesInstitut und Museum der Universitat Zurich.
REVIEW: The author writes from an extensive personal knowledge of this subject, discussing his own research as well as others in this field. His brief prologue ends with an apt statement: “Ultimately, each book presents a personal take on a matter, and this is no exception.”
Embryos in Deep Time, Sanchez’ ‘personal take,’ is an in-depth summary of what the fossil record reveals about development, a synthesis of current research in the disciplines of comparative anatomy, ecology and developmental genetics, embryology and paleontology. The book is well edited, although some sentence constructions make it clear that the author’s first language is not English. This does not detract from the readability and adds to an engaging style. After the first few chapters, you are drawn into a world of long extinct creatures and long sentences do not matter anymore.
One of the book’s strengths is the use of different kinds of extinct and extant examples, from a wide range of geological epochs and geographical localities. It does not just concentrate on one group or continent and it asks an important question: can a study of fossil embryos demonstrate evolutionary changes in reproduction? The book is accessible to non-specialists, while still maintaining its appeal for paleontologists and evolutionary biologists, whether graduate students or established researchers, discussing >500 million years of evolution of life on Earth in just over 200 pages!
REVIEW: What do paleontology and developmental biology have in common? Can one of them provide insights into the other? Marcelo Sanchez explores the close but not always recognized relationship between both disciplines.
How would you build your photographic family tree? You’d probably look for photos of all the relatives that you know or have heard about. But given the opportunity, would you choose photos that showed them in their 70s or 20s – or when they were infants? Whatever you choose, it will only represent one stage of the life of the person concerned. Wouldn’t it be nicer to allow the tree to share your relatives at different ages? Then it might be easier to notice that you and your cousin were actually extremely similar at 6, or that your aunt was almost identical to your grandma when both were 30.
A similar problem happens with our tree of life, “The organisms portrayed are static entities, usually adults with the recognizable features of their species”, argues Marcelo Sanchez, Professor of paleontology at the University of Zurich. But this stationary portrait of the evolution of life is dramatically changing and today, most scientists are aware that studying different stages of living beings, from fertilization to death, can help to build a better picture of the complex puzzle that is the history of life.
So developmental biology is key for understanding evolutionary relationships. And no one would deny that paleontology, the study of fossils, also is. But have you ever wondered how they can both work together?
Going back to our analogy, even if you tried to find photos of your relatives at different ages it would surely be much easier for the younger ones. You might consider yourself lucky to find just one picture of the sister of your great grandmother. A photo of her as a baby? Impossible!
In a situation that is similar for different reasons, finding fossilized embryos is a difficult task. This is not surprising. Even without being a paleontologist, one can imagine that it must be very hard to find an embryo that existed thousands or millions of years ago. In vertebrates, for instance, the skeleton is not always completely developed at embryonic stages, making its preservation more difficult. No less complicated is, once found, telling a fetus apart from a last meal, as both can be, “a small skeleton inside a larger one”, Sanchez explains in his book. Nonetheless, he confirms that fossil embryos do exist. Dinosaurs are the best documented group in vertebrates, followed by other reptilian ones. It’s a different story for mammals: given their viviparous nature, embryos of this group are found even more rarely.
But contrary to what the title of the book initially might suggest, we are not just talking about fossil embryos. Throughout the book, Sanchez argues that there are many ways of learning about development through the study of fossils. In one of the chapters, he gives a convincing example regarding the number of vertebrae and how they are distributed in the bodies of different animals. This number and its distribution are known to be determined by two important factors: a segmentation clock during embryogenesis, which results into the formation of blocks called somites; and the expression of the famous Hox genes. Given the vast fossil record of vertebrates, looking at the number of vertebrae in different regions of the body can show what was going on during the development of the fossils studied, including how fast the segmentation clock was ticking and the regulatory behavior of the Hox genes in those days. This is a clear example where, without having access to ancient embryos, one can actually ask and answer questions about the development of extinct animals.
The ideas and concepts discussed are definitely influenced by Sanchez’s own research, the integrative study of the evolution of vertebrate skeletons being one of his main focuses. But the book is not limited to this. It offers a well-documented diversity of examples, also including invertebrates, which are so difficult to find in the fossil record. Overall, the bibliographic and scientific research behind the book is appreciated. And so is his style. The book can easily be followed by readers with a basic knowledge of biology.
Finding ancient embryos in the field might be more difficult than digging out photos of your ancestors as babies. But the link between paleontology and developmental biology comes in many other flavors. Snchez, in his book, has shown that there is much more to explore and benefit from in this relationship.
REVIEW: The author gives a concise and accessible account of the information that fossils provide on development from embryo to adult in different groups ofextinct animals. Sanchez takes a very broad view of development: his treatment goes far beyond the “Embryos in Deep Time” of the title. Genes do not fossilize, and sequence data from ancient DNA and proteins do not survive for millions of years. But fossil evidence of ontogenies and growth, even if rarely preserved and sometimes only revealed by special preparation techniques, provide clues to evolutionary processes. Evolution acts on all stages of development, not just the adult, and juvenile characters can be useful in determining relationships.
The emphasis of the book is on vertebrates, reflecting Sanchez’s research interest in mammals, but invertebrate examples are also mentioned. Studies of variation in segment number in trilobites, for example, suggest greater developmental flexibility during the Cambrian explosion than later in the history of life. Sanchez writes for a general scientific audience, but the book provides an excellent introduction for biologists who might labor under the misapprehension that fossils have nothing to say about developmental evolution and genetics. The study of evolutionary development, or Evo-Devo, aims to identify the genetic controls on morphology, particularly on those large changes that can be effectedby switching on or off developmental genes.
Such mechanisms offer an explanation for the profound and rapid shifts in morphology that occur, for example, during evolutionary radiations. The fossil record reveals the time scale and the order in which features appeared—a fossil from the Triassic of China, for example, shows that the ventral shell of turtles evolved before the dorsal. The author reviews many examples of development in fossil vertebrates. Ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs are known preserving fetuses, providing direct evidence of viviparity. Dinosaur eggs may preserve embryos, and there is evidence that certain dinosaurs brooded their eggs like birds today. Bone histology may reveal growth rates in dinosaurs, showing how they reached enormous sizes relatively quickly. Recognizing change in form during maturation (allometry) is important in taxonomy—to avoid assigning juvenile and adult to different species as has happened in the case of ground sloths, for example.
The impact of evolution on growth patterns is dramatically illustrated by the appearance of dwarf forms, such as elephants and mammoths, on islands. Some of the most exciting interactions of evolutionary development and paleontology involve identifying genetic mechanisms to explain major evolutionary changes revealed by fossils. Sanchez explains how the wings of bats, for example, may have evolved rapidly under the control of genes that promote the growth of skin between digits, and the reduction of the hind limb in dolphins and whales may reflect non-expression or loss of particular genes. As highlighted in Sanchez’s individual synthesis, fossils provide the only record of changes that took place in the past, while developmental genetics may provide a mechanism for fundamental evolutionary transformations. [Derek E. G. Briggs, Geology & Geophysics and Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut].
REVIEW: One of the few remaining frontiers in evolutionary biology is the integration of the fossil record with our newly gained understanding of developmental evolution. Few have the boldness to seriously venture into this poorly mapped scientific landscape. With this book, Marcelo Sanchez is setting up a camp there for coming generations of students who shall be able to explore the wilderness of this unsettled and unsettling intellectual territory. [Günter P. Wagner, Yale University].
REVIEW: With feet firmly planted in the fossil record, paleontologist Marcelo Sanchez asks what can be learned about the development of fossils, and development in general, from the paleontological record. This wide-ranging book is ideal for those curious about fossils, evolution, and development. [Charles R. Marshall, University of California Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley].
REVIEW: A comprehensive summary of cutting-edge evolutionary research in an academically rigorous but refreshingly accessible manner. [Developmental Dynamics].
REVIEW: Sachez explains complex ideas simply and vividly, but also professionally and with no shortcuts...Enriching and stimulating. [Dmitry A. Ruban, Rostov am Don 'Palaontologie allgemein'].
REVIEW: A captivating account of what the fossil record can say about development. [Trends In Ecology & Evolution].
REVIEW: A light-hearted...narrative integrating some of the treasures of paleontology. [Evolution & Development].
REVIEW: An original thinker, who can put it all together. [Acta Zoologica].REVIEW: Highly recommended. [Choice].
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