Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Titles



1) Chiappe, Luis M. and Meng Qingjin. Birds of Stone: Chinese Avian Fossils from the Age of Dinosaurs. 2016. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 294 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: When fossils of birds from China’s Jehol region first appeared in scientific circles, the world took notice. These Mesozoic masterpieces are between 120 and 131 million years old and reveal incredible details that capture the diversity of ancient bird life. Paleontologists all over the world began to collaborate with Chinese colleagues as new and wondrous fossil-related discoveries became regular events. The pages of National Geographic and major scientific journals described the intricate views of feathers as well as food still visible in the guts of these ancient birds. Now, for the first time, a sweeping collection of the most interesting of Jehol’s avian fossils is on display in this beautiful book.
      Birds of Stone makes visible the unexpected avian diversity that blanketed the earth just a short time (geologically speaking) after a dinosaur lineage gave rise to the first birds. Our visual journey through these fossils is guided by Luis M. Chiappe, a world expert on early birds, and Meng Qingjin, a leading figure in China's natural history museum community. Together, they help us understand the "meaning" of each fossil by providing straightforward narratives that accompany the full-page photographs of the Jehol discoveries.
     Anyone interested in the history of life―from paleontologists to inquisitive birders―will find Birds of Stone an irresistible feast for the eyes and mind.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated overview of these fossils.






2) Cunfer, Geoff and Bill Waiser (editors). Bison and People on the North American Great Plains: A Deep Environmental History. 2016. Texas A&M University Press. Hardbound: 323 pages. Price: $60.00 U.S. 
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The near disappearance of the American bison in the nineteenth century is commonly understood to be the result of over-hunting, capitalist greed, and all but genocidal military policy. This interpretation remains seductive because of its simplicity; there are villains and victims in this familiar cautionary tale of the American frontier. But as this volume of groundbreaking scholarship shows, the story of the bison’s demise is actually quite nuanced. 
     Bison and People on the North American Great Plains brings together voices from several disciplines to offer new insights on the relationship between humans and animals that approached extinction. The essays here transcend the border between the United States and Canada to provide a continental context. Contributors include historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, and Native American perspectives.
     This book explores the deep past and examines the latest knowledge on bison anatomy and physiology, how bison responded to climate change (especially drought), and early bison hunters and pre-contact trade. It also focuses on the era of European contact, in particular the arrival of the horse, and some of the first known instances of over-hunting. By the nineteenth century bison reached a “tipping point” as a result of new tanning practices, an early attempt at protective legislation, and ventures to introducing cattle as a replacement stock. The book concludes with a Lakota perspective featuring new ethnohistorical research. 
     Bison and People on the North American Great Plains is a major contribution to environmental history, western history, and the growing field of transnational history.
RECOMMENDATION:For those with a serious interest in the topic.

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