"Even the wide interval between birds and reptiles has been shown by the naturalist to be partially bridged over in the most unexpected manner, on the one hand, by the ostrich and extinct Archeopteryx, and on the other hand, by the Compsognathus, one of the Dinosaurians". - Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species, 1872.
When Darwin penned these words the recognition by Thomas Huxley of a transitional fossil appeared to confirm a remarkable, but straightforward evolutionary story; that modern birds evolved from ancient dinosaurs. Yet in the centuries following this discovery the rise of modern birds remains greatly debated and now, in their new title Living Dinosaurs: The Evolutionary History of Modern Birds , researchers Gareth Dyke and Gary Kaiser set out to unite ornithologists and paleontologists to form a modern understanding of the evolution of birds at the beginning of the 21st century.
"When Huxley discovered what was believed to be a 140-million-year-old fossil, bridging the gap between dinosaurs and birds, it was hailed as one of the great triumphs of early evolutionary history," said Dyke. "Nothing in biology is that straight forward and since the 1920's this consensus has been challenged causing a debate of such length and intensity that students studying fossil organisms have been largely isolated from those studying living organisms."
Living Dinosaurs: The Evolutionary History of Modern Birds , aims to bring the two fields of ornithology and paleontology together to present the current understanding of avian evolution. Each chapter presents a current point of view, placed into context with discussion of the direction of future research.
The books focuses on evolutionary aspects of function and ecology, rather than technical descriptions of fossils and begins with a review of the early ancestry of birds and the conditions under which they diversified in the Cretaceous era. The book continues by providing ornithol
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