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By John G. Maisey

Fishes have a distinct evolutionary historical past that stretches again in time greater than 450 million years. they're quite ancient-older than the dinosaurs-and comprise the ancestors of all limbed vertebrates dwelling on land, even humans.In getting to know Fossil Fishes, John Maisey strains the evolution of fishes over the process approximately part one thousand million years, describing the invention in their outstanding fossil continues to be and explaining what those historic animals let us know approximately our personal position within the heritage of lifestyles. Combining present clinical details with pleasing stories approximately old and modern fieldwork, Maisey brings to lifestyles the advance of armored fishes, monster sharks, and fishes with palms as he unearths the subtleties of evolution's maximum good fortune story.More plentiful and extra assorted than their air-breathing cousins, fishes at the present time dominate the seas and freshwaters of Earth. via impressive full-color pictures in their fossils and of fossil reconstructions via artists David Miller and Ivy Rutzky, besides informative photos, charts, diagrams, and drawings, we find a surprising half-billion-year background within which lies our personal watery origins.

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Gray’s ambivalence about competition reflected increasing doubts about Darwinism toward the nineteenth century’s end. Natural selection seemed too random and cumbersome to have produced living organ­ isms’ exquisite adaptations, especially after 1866, when the leading English physicist William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, “proved,” from the rate at which the earth’s molten center was thought to be cooling, that the planet could not be much more than a hundred million years old. Given such a restricted time frame, many naturalists looked with renewed interest on the idea of Enlightenment savants like Lamarck that environment might have direct effects in changing organisms.

They were much too busy using more impressive fossils to promote their clashing agendas. Cope applied his ideas about omnivores quickly evolving into herbivores not to lizards but to mam­ mals. He thought they had been largely arboreal when the dinosaurs ruled (he and Marsh were the first to discern the basic outlines of dino­ saur evolution), and then had descended from the trees and evolved into large ungulate herbivores after the dinosaurs’ extinction.  H. Huxley, who furthered their agenda by finding and publicizing important “missing links” between groups of organisms.

His reference to “modern savants” suggests that he was acquainted with Enlightenment thought, perhaps with the French naturalist Buffon’s idea that a bad climate might have caused New World animals like tapirs to degenerate from 15 A Cactus H er esy larger Old World ones like elephants. He may have heard of the ideas associated with another French naturalist, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, that organisms may change in response to their environment and pass on such changes to their offspring. This is unlikely, since Lamarck didn’t publish his theories until some years later.

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