Review Of "The Rise Of Birds: 225 Million Years Of Evolution" By S. Chatterjee

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The field of paleontology is beset by controversy, and few areas are as contentious as the evolution of birds. This important book should stand beside Alan Feduccia's The Origin and Evolution of Birds (CH, Feb'97), found in most undergraduate- and graduate-level libraries. Both books are well produced and written in clear English (Chatterjee uses less technical language). Both review the complex and often confusing history of avian evolution, including a discussion of Archeopteryx and possible dinosaur forebears. The principal difference is that Chatterjee puts his controversial discovery, Protoavis, as the centerpiece of the field while Feduccia is more skeptical although not dismissive. The Rise of Birds includes much other material, however, and is not simply a polemic for Protoavis. There are a thorough analysis of the origin of flight, the importance of the great K-T extinction that ended the age of dinosaurs and ushered in the age of birds and mammals, the evolution of more recent birds, and a chapter on the past and present impact of humans on birds. The figures are clear and well thought out. Good bibliography (smaller than Feduccia's). Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.


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