The Origin Of Higher Taxa: Palaeobiological, Developmental, And Ecological Perspectives

Paperback | December 16, 2015

byT. S. Kemp

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In the grand sweep of evolution, the origin of radically new kinds of organisms in the fossil record is the result of a relatively simple process: natural selection marching through the ages. Or is it? Does Darwinian evolution acting over a sufficiently long period of time really offer a complete explanation, or are unusual genetic events and particular environmental and ecological circumstances also involved? With The Origin of Higher Taxa, Tom Kemp sifts through the layers of paleobiological, genetic, and ecological evidence on a quest to answer this essential, game-changing question of biology.

Looking beyond the microevolutionary force of Darwinian natural selection, Kemp enters the realm of macroevolution, or evolution above the species level. From the origin of mammals to the radiation of flowering plants, these large-scale patterns—such as the rise of novel organismal design, adaptive radiations, and lineage extinctions—encompass the most significant trends and transformations in evolution. As macroevolution cannot be studied by direct observation and experiment, scientists have to rely on the outcome of evolution as evidence for the processes at work, in the form of patterns of species appearances and extinctions in a spotty fossil record, and through the nature of species extant today. Marshalling a wealth of new fossil and molecular evidence and increasingly sophisticated techniques for their study, Kemp here offers a timely and original reinterpretation of how higher taxa such as arthropods, mollusks, mammals, birds, and whales evolved—a bold new take on the history of life.

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In the grand sweep of evolution, the origin of radically new kinds of organisms in the fossil record is the result of a relatively simple process: natural selection marching through the ages. Or is it? Does Darwinian evolution acting over a sufficiently long period of time really offer a complete explanation, or are unusual genetic eve...

T. S. Kemp is an emeritus university lecturer and curator of the zoological collections in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. He was also a tutor in biology for St John’s College, where he now holds an emeritus research fellowship. He is the author of Mammal-Like Reptiles and the Origin of Mammals, Fossils and Evolu...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.75 × 6.35 × 0.5 inPublished:December 16, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022633595X

ISBN - 13:9780226335957

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“Kemp’s book provides much to think about, ideas and models linking palaeobiology and evo-devo genomics. He does not explore phylogenetic comparative approaches to macroevolution which have the advantage of providing numerical approaches that are available now and that can be tested. His book could be criticized for being too open-ended and hypothetical, but then such deeply considered, thoughtful syntheses can provide the materials to construct numerical models for testing. This is the role of Kemp’s book, and it has the advantage of being written lucidly and in a style any graduate student could follow.”