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At the Foot of the Himalayas

Paleontology and Ecosystem Dynamics of the Siwalik Record

This authoritative volume brings together decades of insights from one of the longest terrestrial fossil records on the planet.

The fabled Himalayas have isolated and sheltered the Indian subcontinent for millions of years. The Siwalik sequence of sediments at their feet has been a treasure trove of visions into the past for generations of paleontologists, preserving an immense 20 million years of terrestrial ecosystems' fossil record. The Siwalik sequence reveals a unique forest wonderland of diverse animal species: from huge elephant relatives, great rhinos, and sabertooth cats, to mongooses, swamp rats, crocodiles, and catfish. Regional climate change eventually caused this forest ecosystem to unravel, as grasslands replaced the forests and established the habitats and animals of the modern ecosystems of the Indus and Ganges rivers.

In At the Foot of the Himalayas, celebrated paleontologists Catherine Badgley, Michèle Morgan, and David Pilbeam bring together a collection of world-renowned scholars to present an interdisciplinary approach to documenting and interpreting this fossil record. By investigating changes in landscape, climate, and vertebrate species diversity, their analysis reveals insights into a central question about biodiversity: which evolutionary developments were influenced by changes in climate, and which were caused by interactions among the species themselves? This groundbreaking book illuminates for the first time a mysterious and vibrant paleontological past, bringing together more than 40 years of exciting international collaborative studies that forge invaluable knowledge pathways for the ecologists, evolutionary scientists, and paleontologists of the future, and pose important questions about our fragile ecosystems in the present day.

About the Authors

Catherine Badgley is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Residential College at the University of Michigan. Michèle Morgan is the Curator of Osteology and Paleoanthropology at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. David Pilbeam is a professor emeritus in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and longtime curator of paleoanthropology at the Peabody Museum.

Johns Hopkins University Press
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