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Evolving Eden: An Illustrated Guide to the Evolution of the African Large Mammal Fauna Paperback – July 3, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0231119450 ISBN-10: 0231119453 Edition: 1st

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Evolving Eden: An Illustrated Guide to the Evolution of the African Large Mammal Fauna + Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History + The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1 edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231119453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231119450
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,497,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This is an important book.

(John Laurence Kelland American Reference Books Annual 1900-01-00)

This artistic and scholarly triumph belongs in all academic libraries...Highly recommended.

(Choice)

A fascinating read and a visual feast, this book lays the foundation for a deeper appreciation of contemporary African wildlife.

(Ethnology, Ecology & Evolution)

This book can be recommended for its illustrations alone... Add to this extensive research and explanations and you have an excellent book on the evolution of African large mammals.

(E-Streams)

Important for present-day conservationalists who want to protect this "Garden of Eden."

(Asad R. Rahmani Hornbill)

[It] fills an obvious gap in the popular scientific literature... It is a worthy addition to any fossil fan's library.

(Fossil News)

Review

Evolving Eden expansively documents, in text and singular illustrations, the context and nature of emergence, over some thirty million years, of the species-rich, distinctively African mammal fauna. It highlights its foreign and indigenous roots, innumerable species appearances and extinctions, all within the framework of often massive, far-reaching physical and environmental transformations of that vast, and ancient pan-equatorial landmass. In addition to its important illumination of natural history, past and present, of the ill-named 'dark continent,' this book clearly examines the emergence and subsequent evolution of humans. This is an exceptionally useful and stimulating volume.

(F. Clark Howell, professor emeritus of anthropology, University of California, Berkeley)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on October 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Africa, expecially as it appears to have been over time is probably the closest piece of land that might have been considered Eden.

For some 35 million years Africa has been the home of an ever widening number of animals. This beautifully illustrated work takes fossil finds, compares them with their closest living relatives and builds up what these animals probably looked like when they were alive.

The definition of animals in this book certainly includes humans and their African ancestors. More than just viewing the fossil remains, the built up people show a closer relationship to modern humans that just looking at the bare fossil.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, Prof. Alan Turner and Mauricio Anton try to synthesize our understanding of Africa's natural history from the Miocene (approximately 35 million years ago) to the present. The book is unique in focusing on the entire continent as a source of mammalian evolution, rather than a particular species or ecosystem. It produces mixed results. Sometimes it becomes just a list of extant and extinct species. However, the last chapter synthesizes the story of African evolution quite well by showing the rise and fall of certain families of mammals.

What makes this book really useful though is the pictures of the extinct African mammals. A picture can be worth a thousand words, and Anton's pictures are certainly worth quite a bit. Each illustration starts with the underlying skeleton, then builds muscle and skin onto the fossil The final result gives the reader an idea of how prehistoric mammals differed from their modern counterparts. The drawings make it much easier to visualize the Miocene landscape. There are many color insets, but I only wish there were more.

While the book claims to be accessible to both lay and scientific readers, I suspect that it will be more useful to lay readers with some background in evolution or paleontology. Because of the book's broad scope, it cannot go into detail about the scientific method or interpreting fossils. Thus, lay readers might be puzzled when the authors start classifying mammals based on the number of toes or dental cusps they possess.

Ultimately, I think this book would be really helpful for anybody casually interested in paleontology who is going or has gone to Africa. I actually picked it up in preparation for a safari to Africa later this year. I found that understanding the evolution of everybody's favorite safari mammals really helps you appreciate them more, as well as appreciate the extinct animals you won't see out in the field.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By glen keller on October 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book threads the fine line between the Laymen and the professional. Just the right amount of info without getting stuck in specialization on any one beast.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book a 5 star rating because of the way it simply and consistently helps you paint a picture in your mind of what it might have been like in Africa when large mammals lived contemporaneously with hominins that evolved there. This is not a book about solving the mystery of hominin evolution, but of setting the context. The illustrations are superb. All in all, the book serves as an excellent launching point for further enquiry into specific areas known to have been inhabited by hominins, bringing into focus large mammalian predator-prey species and the environment that supported them.
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