Mammal Evolution: An Illustrated Guide

Mammal Evolution: An Illustrated Guide
by   R. J. G. Savage

(Illus. by M. R. Long)
Facts On File, Inc.
Glossary; Index
YA, C, GA **


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Savage, a widely respected mammalian paleontologist, aims this book at "a level that we hope will inform all but the specialists." He succeeds with a very well illustrated volume that could be used as a primary or supplementary textbook in advanced high school or undergraduate college courses and also as an entertaining book for the adult reader. The author departs from the standard systematic (Linnaean) organization of most books on vertebrates and, instead, organizes his text by function. The chapter on insectivores includes all insect eaters, not just members of the order Insectivora. This means that he discusses members of 12 orders of living mammals, both marsupials and placentals. Other chapters take a similar approach with carnivores, paddlers and swimmers, gliders and fliers, gnawers; early rooters and browsers, hoofed herbivores, and, lastly, men and monkeys. The approach is eclectic, with more space given the evolution of some groups--elephants and horses, for instance--than others. But this goes well in this book, for the principles enunciated or implied in the detailed discussions can be applied to other organisms. It would be helpful, especially at the high school level, for teachers to supplement this book with a standard systematic approach so that the student can keep the Linnaean classification in mind.

--Reviewed by Frank C. Whitmore in Science Books and Films, 22/4 (March/April 1987), pp. 232-3.