The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals

The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals

Book - 2017
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The ultimate illustrated guide to the lost world of prehistoric mammals

After the mass extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, mammals became the dominant terrestrial life form on our planet. Roaming the earth were spectacular beasts such as saber-toothed cats, giant mastodonts, immense ground sloths, and gigantic giraffe-like rhinoceroses. Here is the ultimate illustrated field guide to the lost world of these weird and wonderful prehistoric creatures.

A woolly mammoth probably won't come thundering through your vegetable garden any time soon. But if one did, this would be the book to keep on your windowsill next to the binoculars. It covers all the main groups of fossil mammals, discussing taxonomy and evolutionary history, and providing concise accounts of the better-known genera and species as well as an up-to-date family tree for each group. No other book presents such a wealth of new information about these animals--what they looked like, how they behaved, and how they were interrelated. In addition, this unique guide is stunningly illustrated throughout with full-color reconstructions of these beasts--many never before depicted--along with photographs of amazing fossils from around the world.

Provides an up-to-date guidebook to hundreds of extinct species, from saber-toothed cats to giant mammoths Features a wealth of color illustrations, including new reconstructions of many animals never before depicted Demonstrates evolution in action--such as how whales evolved from hoofed mammals and how giraffes evolved from creatures with short necks Explains how mass extinctions and climate change affected mammals, including why some mammals grew so huge
Publisher: Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780691156828
Characteristics: 240 pages : illustrations (chiefly colour) ; 29 cm
Additional Contributors: Williams, Mary Persis


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Mar 23, 2021

The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals is a very good book. Mammals, unfortunately, don’t tend to get much attention compared to the dinosaurs. This book aims to bring them into the spotlight in a comprehensive guide. Listing species from the well known Mammuthus primigenius to the obscure ones like the “unicorn pig” Kubanochoerus gigas, this book covers many of the beasts that the clade Mammalia has to offer. It has lots of information about ancient mammals, as its predecessor The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs had about dinosaurs. Unlike the previous book, however, this book aims to be a guide to mammals instead of a full encyclopedic listing. It goes more in-depth into mammal evolution and mammal families, with few skeletal diagrams and more family trees and life reconstructions. It summarizes each group of mammal with some key genera, as well as some generalized information about the time periods and lifestyles that all of them lived in. Another nice touch is that every time a new group of mammal is introduced, a size comparison of some well-known members is shown next to a human, giving the reader a sense of scale that cannot be expressed in a few words.

Being a relatively recent book, the images in The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals are almost entirely accurate. The lack of anatomical diagrams is compensated for by photographs of museum mounts of mammal skeletons, which reduces the clarity of the anatomy but also gives the animals a good amount of depth. The book’s writing style also differentiates it from its predecessor, being more like a series of articles, not a full database. This cannot really be compared to the previous book, because they both aim to do different things, but The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals’s format allows it to refer to the discoveries of the species featured, as well as being able to generalize the traits and evolution of a group. This book is very good for the layman, because its terminology, while scientific, is still understandable to most people. It’s best for finding information about individual mammal clades, and makes for a long, informative read that will almost certainly teach you something along the way.

The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals does suffer a bit by being more general and not as specific to the species level, but ultimately it does a very good job at conveying information about the wondrous beasts that once walked, flew, and swam around the globe. It is the best guide to long-gone mammals, and no other book has matched it just yet.

I give it a four out of five stars.

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