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The Rise of Birds: 225 Million Years of Evolution Hardcover – September 23, 1997

4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Among the Dockum fossil beds of West Texas in 1983, paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee made a momentous discovery: the fossilized remains of a curious creature subsequently dubbed Protoavis, or primordial bird. In The Rise of Birds, Chatterjee writes that Protoavis predates Archaeopteryx, previously known as the "first bird" by some 75 million years, and that it is more closely related to the modern bird than its Johnny-come-lately rival. But Protoavis is only the starting point for this sweeping, detailed, and beautifully illustrated history of bird evolution. Chatterjee examines the many recent discoveries of bird fossils all over the world and comes to some fascinating and often surprising conclusions: the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs, for instance, or their near-extinction (along with the dinosaurs) when large meteors fell to earth almost 65 million years ago. From the distinguishing characteristics of avian anatomy to theories about the first avian flight, Chatterjee's book is a thoughtful and accessible look at one of the most flourishing products of evolution.

From Library Journal

Even as the fossil record of birds is becoming better known, heated debate remains. Are birds really living dinosaurs? Did flight evolve from the "ground up" or the "trees down"? Here, Chatterjee (paleontology, Texas Tech Univ.) argues that a controversial fossil he discovered and named Protoavis, or "first bird," is indeed the earliest known bird, 75 million years older than Archaeopteryx. He also presents his theories of the ancestors of birds and the origins of flight. His interpretations of avian origins differ from those presented by Alan Feduccia in his recent Origin and Evolution of Birds (LJ 9/15/96), but Chatterjee's arguments are persuasive. His extensive skeletal descriptions will probably deter all but the most devoted enthusiasts, however. While the book is a bit advanced for most general collections, it is essential for academic libraries and paleontology buffs.?Bruce D. Neville, Univ. of New Mexico Lib., Albuquerque
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (September 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801856159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801856150
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,887,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although this book is much about the finding of Protoavis, it is also much more than that. The Jurassic, Cretaceous and Tertiary birds are all treated, a superb argument for the evolution of flight from tree-dwelling dromaeosaurs is made, an important contribution to the understanding of the End-Cretaceous extinction is presented and the too-often neglected subject of heterochrony is discussed, too. The figures are excellent and very useful to help understand the text, which is sometime loaded with anatomical jargon. The book ends with a wise review of the modern extinction caused by spead of humanity to every corner of the planet.
I also think that the recent discoveries made in China can be well integrated in the frame set by Chatterjee, so the book is not out of date at all.
All in all, a formidable book for undergraduates and professionnals.
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Format: Hardcover
Chatterjee does a great job in presenting his case for Protoavis, a bird that may very well precede the famous Archaeopteryx of the Jurassic. Though a bit technical at times, it has a good overview of bird evolution and of fossil birds throughout the Mesozoic and throughout the Cenozoic, with excellent coverage of many Tertiary species, especially at Green River(from the Eocene of Wyoming) and Messel (from the Eocene of Central Europe). Their relationship to dinosaurs is well covered, and some time is spent on the K/T event that ended much Mesozoic life. Numerous diagrams and illustrations and a thorough bibliography. While not all may agree with his take on Protoavis, this remains a worthwhile on avian evolution and fossil bird speciesA good book.
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Format: Hardcover
Most scientests doubt that Protoavis could be a bird, and many of them suspect that the Protoavis skeleton may be a mixture of multiple species from different orders. Though this debate is still in progress, and though the view of this book about avian history is interesting, it was far from the mainstream of the academic world even when it was written, and is much farther now. The readers should be aware of it.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a good book, with useful text and drawings. Chatterjee discusses his *Protoavis* quite well, and tells us about his ideas. It is also very interesting in that it is more than the simple "*Archaeopteryx* is incredible because it is the first bird" type books. Chatterjee talks about an hypothesis (his hypothesis) that is not the one that everybody sees in popular journals and on TV.
If he is right about *Protoavis* as being a Triassic bird, his discovery is truly marvelous. However, *Protoavis* is incomplete, and most paleontologists tend to challenge Chatterjee's view. So maybe the book is a bit one-sided. Chatterjee uses the book to prove that *Protoavis* could well have exist, but I think should have examined other fossil birds in further detail. There is another problem: there have been many very important discoveries recently, notably in China, relating to origin of birds. When Chatterjee wrote his book, none of these fossils had yet been discovered, and the book lacks them a lot.
Although *The Rise of Birds* is a quite recent publication, it is already out of date, and it is its worst problem.
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