Forerunners of Mammals: Radiation • Histology • Biology

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Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan
Indiana University Press, Nov 18, 2011 - Science - 352 pages
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About 320 million years ago a group of reptiles known as the synapsids emerged and forever changed Earth’s ecological landscapes. This book discusses the origin and radiation of the synapsids from their sail-backed pelycosaur ancestor to their diverse descendants, the therapsids or mammal-like reptiles, that eventually gave rise to mammals. It further showcases the remarkable evolutionary history of the synapsids in the Karoo Basin of South Africa and the environments that existed at the time. By highlighting studies of synapsid bone microstructure, it offers a unique perspective of how such studies are utilized to reconstruct various aspects of biology, such as growth dynamics, biomechanical function, and the attainment of sexual and skeletal maturity. A series of chapters outline the radiation and phylogenetic relationships of major synapsid lineages and provide direct insight into how bone histological analyses have led to an appreciation of these enigmatic animals as once-living creatures. The penultimate chapter examines the early radiation of mammals from their nonmammalian cynodont ancestors, and the book concludes by engaging the intriguing question of when and where endothermy evolved among the therapsids.


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1 The Origin and Radiation of Therapsids
2 Therapsid Biodiversity Patterns and Paleoenvironments of the Karoo Basin South Africa
3 The Microstructure of Bones and Teeth of Nonmammalian Therapsids
4 The Paleobiology and Bone Microstructure of PelycosaurianGrade Synapsids
5 Dicynodont Growth Dynamics and Lifestyle Adaptations
6 Biological Inferences of the Cranial Microstructure of the Dicynodonts Oudenodon and Lystrosaurus
7 Bone and Dental Histology of Late Triassic Dicynodonts from North America
8 Bone Histology of Some Therocephalians and Gorgonopsians and Evidence of Bone Degradation by Fungi
9 The Radiation and Osteohistology of Nonmammaliaform Cynodonts
10 The Radiation Bone Histology and Biology of Early Mammals
11 The Evolution of Mammalian Endothermy

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About the author (2011)

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is a paleobiologist and global expert on fossil bone microstructure. She is Professor and Fellow of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is former director of the National History Collections, Iziko Museums of Cape Town. She is author of The Microstructure of Dinosaur Bone: Deciphering Biology through Fine Scale Analysis and Famous Dinosaurs of Africa.

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