Giant Beasts of Pleistocene South America
Published by: Indiana University Press
More than 10,000 years ago spectacularly large mammals roamed the pampas and jungles of South America. This book tells the story of these great beasts during and just after the Pleistocene, the geological epoch marked by the great ice ages. Megafauna describes the history and way of life of these animals, their comings and goings, and what befell them at the beginning of the modern era and the arrival of humans. It places these giants within the context of the other mammals then alive, describing their paleobiology—how they walked; how much they weighed; their diets, behavior, biomechanics; and the interactions among them and with their environment. It also tells the stories of the scientists who contributed to our discovery and knowledge of these transcendent creatures and the environment they inhabited. The episode known as the Great American Biotic Interchange, perhaps the most important of all natural history "experiments," is also an important theme of the book, tracing the biotic events of both North and South America that led to the fauna and the ecosystems discussed in this book.
1. Paleontology and Science: What is Science?
2. Distinguished Paleomammalogists
3. Geologic and Ecological History of South America During the Cenozoic Era
4. North American Late Cenozoic Faunas
5. The Great American Biotic Interchange and Pleistocene Habitats in South America
7. Physics of the Giants
8. General Paleoecology
Appendix 1: A Primer on Skeletal Anatomy
Appendix 2: Skeletal Anatomy of Xenarthrans
Appendix 3: Equations Used to Estimate Body Masses Based on Dental and Skeletal Measurements and Their Respective Sources.
Appendix 4: Calculations
Overall, [this] is an enjoyable read that provides a substantial amount of detail on the biology, ecology, and distribution of these fantastic animals. . . . Highly recommended.~Choice
Collectively, this book brings attention to the discovery and natural history of ancient beasts in South America while providing a broader temporal and geographic background that allows readers to understand their evolution and potential immigration to South America.~Quarterly Review of Biology
The conversational tone in this volume makes it a pleasure to read. I recommend this book for anyone interested in paleontology, students new to the subject, graduate students, and researchers who want to become well grounded in late Neogene paleontology of both Americas.~Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
"This is an excellent volume. Its structure is complex, serving well the multitude of topics the authors managed to treat in a reader-friendly, yet rigorous manner that will satisfy both specialists and general paleontologists and the educated reader. . . This book is likely to facilitate progress in the understanding of fossil mammals from the Americas."~Priscum
These bizarre beasts are wonderful exemplars of parallel evolution, controversial in their implications for competition/extinction . . . and just plain intriguing!~Donald Prothero
The history of the South American megafauna is a fascinating topic. For much of the Cenozoic Era South America was an island continent in which the carnivores were all marsupials and the herbivores were primitive ungulates that evolved into forms functionally similar to unrelated animals found elsewhere in the world. [They] were a unique blend of indigenous and immigrant animals that had apparently reached equilibrium in the wake of the Great American Interchange. When and why many of them subsequently went extinct has yet to be fully resolved.~John Harris, Chief Curator of the George Page Natural History Museum