Recent Books of Interest

  • Published 2004 in Journal of Mammalian Evolution


This volume is the result of a symposium on proboscidean evolution and paleoecology, held in Rome, Italy, during the Fifth International Theriological Congress. Papers and posters presented at the symposium were expanded and updated, and additional contributions were invited to broaden the scope of topics related to diverse aspects of proboscidean evolutionary biology. The gestation period of the book far exceeds that of the two extant species of elephants, who hold the record for gestational length among mammals (about 22 months). The book is offered as an overview of the major aspects of proboscidean evolution that have come to light since the publication of H. F. Osborn's classic two-volume monograph on the subject in 1936 and 1942. The book is subdivided into seven parts: Introduction; Proboscidean Relatives; The First Radiation: Early Proboscideans; The Second Radiation: Gomphotheres and Stegodontids; The Third Radiation: Elephantidae; Palaeoecology, Taphonomy, Extinction, and Conservation; and Summary and Conclusions. The major emphasis of the volume is on the fossil history of the order Proboscidea; only minimal attention is devoted to the biology of the two extant species, and only a single paper, that of Lowenstein and Shoshani, deals with molecular (immunological) data. As emphasized by the editors, the two extant species of proboscideans are endangered and provide only limited insight into the evolutionary success and radiation of a speciose order once found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. Their 1995 assessment of the fossil diversity of Proboscidea recognizes 162 species, grouped into at least 38 genera and 8 or 9 families. P. Tassy presents a useful overview and character analysis of 138 cranial, postcranial, and dental attributes in the major groups of fossil and extant proboscideans. He also includes a brief discussion of the possible role of the Eocene Indo-Pakistani genus Anthracobune as the likely sister group of Proboscidea, whereas some other contributors, including H. Shoshani, consider this genus to be the most plesiomorphous and basal proboscidean. Given that data are missing for about half of the characters analyzed by Tassy for Anthracobune, his conservative assessment seems to be the soundest at present. Following all the detailed contributions to the volume, the editors provide a valuable summary and conclusions chapter, highlighting many of the valuable contributions to the volume and pointing the way for future studies on extant and fossil proboscideans.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1027370230185

Cite this paper

@article{2004RecentBO, title={Recent Books of Interest}, author={}, journal={Journal of Mammalian Evolution}, year={2004}, volume={4}, pages={145-146} }