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کتاب زندگی و تکامل فسیل ماقبل تاریخ
نویسنده :Bruce S. Lieberman and Roger Kaesler
Prehistoric life is the archive of evolution preserved in the fossil record. This book focuses on the meaning and significance of that archive and is designed for introductory college science students, including non-science majors, enrolled in survey courses emphasizing paleontology, geology and biology. From the origins of animals to the evolution of rap music, from ancient mass extinctions to the current biodiversity crisis, and from the Snowball Earth to present day climate change this book covers it, with an eye towards showing how past life on Earth puts the modern world into its proper context. The history of life and the patterns and processes of evolution are especially emphasized, as are the interconnections between our planet, its climate system, and its varied life forms. The book does not just describe the history of life, but uses actual examples from life’s history to illustrate important concepts and theories.
Samuel Clemens, in the form of Huckleberry Finn, remarked that “if I’d a know’d
what a trouble it was to make (this) book I never would a tackled it.” Although I
would not go quite that far, aspects of this sentiment ring true because I signed on
to do this project with my colleague and mentor, Roger Kaesler. However, not too
far into the project Roger became deathly ill with the disease that ultimately took his
life. In spite of the fact that he passed away in 2006, certainly his stamp is present
throughout the book. For instance, in addition to the contributions he made before
he passed away, I endeavored to follow the topics and styling’s that I think (and
hope) he would have most preferred. In any event, the book’s genesis was based on
a class that both he and I taught (and I continue to teach) at the University of
Kansas, the eponymous Prehistoric Life.
The fossil record represents a remarkable pageant of life: what historian of science
Peter Bowler, paraphrasing the famous paleontologist William Diller Matthew,
referred to as “Life’s splendid drama.” It also provides a unique window on the
patterns and processes of evolution. This book focuses on both the patterns and the
processes of evolution and how the history of life is intertwined with the geological
and climatic history of this planet. Ultimately, what ﬁrst inspired me to become a
paleontologist was a trip via New York City subway to the American Museum of
Natural History (AMNH) when I was three years old. There, accompanied by my
parents, I saw the spectacular skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex. My parents were my
ﬁrst teachers: they instilled in me the wonder of scientiﬁc discovery. Later teachers,
especially Stephen Jay Gould, my undergraduate advisor at Harvard College, and
Niles Eldredge, my PhD advisor at Columbia University and the AMNH,
continued to inspire my interest in paleontology and the history of life. This book is
dedicated to these four teachers.
My source of professional inspiration today is no longer solely based on dramatic
ancient life forms (although I still ﬁnd these fascinating) but also on how we can use
the study of that life to comprehend evolution. Certainly people of all ages continue
to be fascinated by spectacular examples of the life that has evolved on this planet,
including dinosaurs. We as paleontologists in general, and book authors in
particular, enjoy capitalizing on this phenomenon, and aspire to transfer that
fascination to a broader understanding of evolutionary and geological processes.
The particular audience aimed at here is college students taking an introductory
course in the history of life.
There are several individuals who assisted with the completion of this project.
First, I am especially grateful to my editor, Ian Francis, for his support. He helped
shepherd this project not only through the good times but also through various
travails big and small. Delia Sanford helped in many important ways, including
coordinating the project. Camille Poire also assisted in this area, especially in 2009.
Rosie Hayden and Harry Langford skillfully helped move the project into
production. I am also very grateful to Tony Martin, Emory University, and several
anonymous reviewers, who generously gave their time and advice by providing
useful comments on earlier versions of this book. Finally, several individuals
provided images used in the book. This was of signiﬁcant assistance, and they are
acknowledged in the relevant image captions.
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