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Vertebrate Life

Tenth edition

F. Harvey Pough and Christine M. Janis

Publication Date - April 2018

ISBN: 9781605356075

624 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $159.99

Widely praised for its comprehensive coverage and exceptionally clear writing style, this best-selling text explores how the anatomy, physiology, ecology, and behavior of animals interact to produce organisms that function effectively in their environments and how lineages of organisms change through evolutionary time.


Vertebrate Life, 10th Edition blends information about anatomy, physiology, ecology, and behavior to present vertebrates within an evolutionary context. Engaging and readable, the 10th edition features full color throughout with completely new photographs and line art. Important advances in vertebrate biology are highlighted, including the increasing influence of molecular phylogenies, insights provided by evo-devo, and our growing appreciation of the significance of developmental plasticity and epigenetics. Taxon-specific conservation issues are discussed in each chapter that treats extant forms.

New to this Edition

  • Full color throughout with completely new photographs and line art
  • Advances in vertebrate biology are highlighted, including the increasing influence of molecular phylogenies, evo-devo, and developmental plasticity and epigenetics


  • Each chapter includes discussion questions, and suggested answers to the questions are included in the online resources for Instructors
  • About a dozen literature citations useful for students are provided at the end of each chapter
  • Taxon-specific conservation issues are discussed in each chapter that treats extant forms
  • The website includes chapter-by-chapter bibliographies listing all of the sources the authors consulted in preparing the 10th edition

About the Author(s)

F. Harvey Pough is Professor Emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology in the USA.

Christine M. Janis is Professor Emerita at Brown University in the USA.

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1. Evolution, Diversity, and Classification of Vertebrates
    1.1. The Vertebrate Story
    Major extant groups of vertebrates
    1.2. Classification of Vertebrates
    Binominal nomenclature
    Phylogenetic systematics
    Applying phylogenetic criteria
    Morphology-based and molecular-based phylogenies
    Using phylogenetic trees
    1.3. Crown and Stem Groups
    1.4. Genetic Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change
    Phenotypes and fitness
    Developmental regulatory genes
    Intragenerational versus transgenerational phenotypic modification
    1.5. Earth History and Vertebrate Evolution

    Chapter 2. What Is a Vertebrate?
    2.1. Vertebrates in Relation to Other Animals
    2.2. Characteristics of Chordates
    Chordate origin and evolution
    Extant nonvertebrate chordates
    2.3. What Distinguishes a Vertebrate?
    2.4. Vertebrate Embryonic Development
    Development of the body
    Development of the pharyngeal region
    Development of the brain
    Unique developmental features of vertebrates
    2.5. Basic Vertebrate Structures
    Adult tissue types
    Mineralized tissues
    The skeletomuscular system
    2.6. Basic Vertebrate Systems
    The alimentary system
    The cardiovascular system
    The excretory and reproductive systems
    The sense organs

    Chapter 3. Jawless Vertebrates and the Origin of Jawed Vertebrates
    3.1. The Earliest Evidence of Vertebrates
    The origin of bone and other mineralized tissues
    The mysterious conodonts
    The environment of early vertebrate evolution
    3.2. Cyclostomes: The Extant Jawless Fishes
    Characters of cyclostomes
    Fossil cyclostomes
    Extant hagfishes: Myxiniformes
    Lampreys: Petromyzontiformes
    Cyclostomes and humans
    3.3. Ostracoderms: Extinct Jawless Fishes
    Characters of ostracoderms
    Ostracoderm evolutionary patterns
    3.4. The Basic Gnathostome Body Plan
    Gnathostome biology
    What about soft tissues?
    3.5. The Origin of Jaws
    Early hypotheses of jaw origins
    The importance of the nose
    Developmental studies of extant vertebrates
    Transitional anatomy in fossils
    The selective value of jaws
    3.6. The Origin of Paired Appendages
    The advantages of fins
    Fin development and the lateral somitic frontier
    Origin of the neck region
    3.7. Extinct Paleozoic Jawed Fishes
    Placoderms: Armored fishes
    The surviving gnathostome groups

    Chapter 4. Living in Water
    4.1. The Aquatic Environment
    Obtaining oxygen from water: Gills
    Obtaining oxygen from air: Lungs and other respiratory structures
    Adjusting buoyancy
    4.2. Water and the Sensory World of Aquatic Vertebrates
    Chemosensation: Taste and smell
    Detecting water displacement
    Electrical discharge
    Electroreception by sharks and rays
    4.3. The Internal Environment of Vertebrates
    4.4. Exchange of Water and Ions
    Nitrogen excretion
    The vertebrate kidney
    Regulation of ions and body fluids
    4.5. Vertebrates in Different Environments
    Marine vertebrates
    Freshwater vertebrates: Teleosts and amphibians
    Euryhaline vertebrates
    Terrestrial vertebrates

    Chapter 5. Geography and Ecology of the Paleozoic Era
    5.1. Shifting Continents and Changing Climates
    5.2. Continental Geography of the Paleozoic
    5.3. Paleozoic Climates
    5.4. Paleozoic Ecosystems
    Aquatic life
    Terrestrial floral ecosystems
    Terrestrial faunal ecosystems
    5.5. Paleozoic Extinctions

    Chapter 6. Radiation and Diversification of Chondrichthyes
    6.1. Chondrichthyes: The Cartilaginous Fishes
    Distinctive characters of chondrichthyans
    6.2. Evolutionary Diversification of Chondrichthyes
    Paleozoic chondrichthyan radiations
    The Mesozoic chondrichthyan radiation
    Paleozoic and Mesozoic chondrichthyan paleobiology

    Chapter 7. Extant Chondrichthyans
    7.1. Morphology of Extant Chondrichthyans
    7.2. Sharks (Selachii)
    Sensory systems and prey detection
    Ecology of sharks
    7.3. Skates and Rays (Batoidea)
    Courtship and reproduction
    7.4. Chimaeras (Holocephali)
    7.5. Declining Shark Populations: An Ecological Crisis

    Chapter 8. Radiation and Diversity of Osteichthyes
    8.1. The Origin of Bony Fishes
    Earliest osteichthyans and the major groups of bony fishes
    8.2. Evolution of Actinopterygii
    Basal actinopterygians
    Evolution of jaw protrusion
    Pharyngeal jaws
    Specializations of fins
    8.3. Evolution of Sarcopterygii

    Chapter 9. Extant Bony Fishes
    9.1. Actinopterygians: Ray-Finned Fishes
    9.2. Swimming
    Minimizing drag
    Steering, stopping, and staying in place
    9.3. Actinopterygian Reproduction
    9.4. The Sex Lives of Teleosts
    All-female species
    9.5. Teleosts in Different Environments
    Deep-sea fishes
    Coral reef fishes
    9.6. Heterothermal Fishes
    Warm muscles
    Hot eyes
    9.7. Sarcopterygians:Lobe-Finned Fishes
    Actinistians: Coelacanths
    Dipnoans: Lungfishes
    9.8. Pollution, Overfishing, and Fish Farming
    Freshwater fishes
    Marine fishes

    Chapter 10. Origin and Radiation of Tetrapods
    10.1. Tetrapod Origins
    Tetrapodomorph fishes
    Earliest tetrapods of the Late Devonian
    10.2. Moving onto Land
    Terrestrial and walking fishes today
    How are fins made into limbs?
    Body support and locomotion
    Lung ventilation and dermal bone
    10.3. Radiation and Diversity of Non-Amniote Tetrapods
    10.4. Amniotes
    Derived features of amniotes
    The amniotic egg
    Patterns of amniote temporal fenestration

    Chapter 11. Extant Amphibians
    11.1. Diversity of Lissamphibians
    11.2. Life Histories of Amphibians
    The ecology of tadpoles
    11.3. Amphibian Metamorphosis
    11.4. Exchange of Water and Gases
    Cutaneous respiration
    Blood flow in larvae and adults
    Cutaneous permeability to water
    Behavioral control of evaporative water loss
    Uptake and storage of water
    11.5. Toxins, Venoms, and Other Defense Mechanisms
    Skin glands
    Toxicity and diet
    Venomous amphibians
    11.6. Why Are Amphibians Vanishing?

    Chapter 12. Living on Land
    12.1. Support and Locomotion on Land
    The skeleton
    The cranial skeleton
    The axial skeleton: Vertebrae and ribs
    Axial muscles
    The appendicular skeleton: limbs and limb girdles
    Size and scaling
    12.2. Eating on Land
    12.3. Breathing Air
    12.4. Pumping Blood Uphill
    12.5. Sensory Systems in Air
    12.6. Conserving Water in a Dry Environment
    12.7. Controlling Body Temperature in a Changing Environment
    Ectothermy, endothermy, and heterothermy

    Chapter 13. Geography and Ecology of the Mesozoic Era
    13.1. Continental Geography of the Mesozoic
    13.2. Mesozoic Climates
    13.3. Mesozoic Aquatic Life
    13.4. Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems
    The Triassic
    The Jurassic
    The Cretaceous
    13.5. Mesozoic Extinctions

    Chapter 14. Synapsids and Sauropsids
    14.1. The Conflict between Locomotion and Respiration
    Locomotion and lung ventilation of synapsids
    Locomotion and lung ventilation of sauropsids
    14.2. Limb-Powered Locomotion
    The basal amniote ankle joint
    The sauropsid ankle joint
    The synapsid ankle joint
    14.3. Increasing Gas Exchange
    Synapsid lungs
    Sauropsid lungs
    The respiratory system of birds
    Why are synapsid and sauropsid lungs so different?
    14.4. Transporting Oxygen to the Muscles: The Heart
    14.5. The Evolution of Endothermy
    How did endothermy evolve?
    Evaluating the models
    When did endothermy evolve?
    14.6. Getting Rid of Wastes: The Kidneys
    Nitrogen excretion by synapsids: The mammalian kidney
    Nitrogen excretion by sauropsids: Renal and extrarenal routes
    14.7. Sensing and Making Sense of the World
    Chemosensation: Gustation and olfaction

    Chapter 15. Ectothermy: A Low-Energy Approach to Life
    15.1. Vertebrates and Their Environments
    15.2. Dealing with Dryness: Ectotherms in Deserts
    Desert tortoises
    The chuckwalla
    Desert amphibians
    15.3. Coping with Cold: Ectotherms in Subzero Conditions
    Frigid fishes
    Frozen frogs
    15.4. Energetics of Ectotherms and Endotherms
    Body size
    Body shape
    15.5. The Role of Ectotherms in Terrestrial Ecosystems
    Conversion efficiency

    Chapter 16. Turtles
    16.1. Everyone Recognizes a Turtle
    Shell and skeleton
    Families of extant turtles 285
    16.2. Turtle Structure and Function
    Lung ventilation
    The heart
    Patterns of circulation and respiration
    Body size and temperature regulation
    16.3. Reproductive Biology of Turtles
    Moisture and egg development
    Temperature-dependent sex determination
    Parental care
    Hatching and the behavior of baby turtles
    16.4. Social Behavior, Communication, and Courtship
    16.5. Navigation and Migrations
    Navigation by adult turtles
    Navigation by hatchling and juvenile sea turtles
    16.6. The Fateful Life-History Characteristics of Turtles

    Chapter 17. Lepidosaurs
    17.1. Rhynchocephalians and the Biology of Tuatara
    17.2. Radiation of Squamates
    17.3. Foraging Modes
    Correlates of foraging mode
    17.4. Skull Kinesis
    17.5. Feeding Specializations of Snakes
    Venom and fangs
    Hearts and stomachs
    17.6. Predator Avoidance and Defense
    Venomous and poisonous snakes
    17.7. Social Behavior
    17.8. Reproductive Modes
    Sex determination
    Oviparity and viviparity
    Parental care
    17.9. Thermal Ecology
    Organismal performance and temperature
    17.10. Lepidosaurs and Climate Change

    Chapter 18. Crocodylians
    18.1. Diversity of Extant Crocodylians
    18.2. The Crocodylomorph Lineage
    18.3. Predatory Behavior and Diet of Extant Crocodylians
    18.4. Communication and Social Behavior
    18.5. Reproduction and Parental Care
    Temperature-dependent sex determination
    Parental care
    18.6. The Skin Trade

    Chapter 19. Mesozoic Diapsids: Dinosaurs and Others
    19.1. Characteristics of Diapsids
    19.2. Diversity of Mesozoic Diapsids
    19.3. Lepidosauromorphs: Marine Diapsids
    Terrestrial lepidosauromorphs
    Marine lepidosauromorphs
    19.4. Metriorhynchid Crocodylomorphs
    19.5. Pterosaurs: The First Flying Vertebrates
    The structure of pterosaurs
    Reproduction, eggs, and parental care
    Did the evolution of birds doom the pterosaurs?
    19.6. Triassic Faunal Turnover
    19.7. The Structure and Function of Dinosaurs
    Hips and legs
    Dinosaur lineages
    19.8. Ornithischian Dinosaurs
    Social behavior of ornithischian dinosaurs
    Nesting and parental care by ornithischians
    19.9. Herbivorous Saurischians
    The structure of sauropods
    Social behavior of sauropods
    Nesting and parental care by sauropods
    19.10. Carnivorous Saurischians
    Social behavior of theropods
    Nesting and parental care by theropods
    19.11. Gigantothermy and the Body Temperature of Dinosaurs

    Chapter 20. Endothermy: A High-Energy Approach to Life
    20.1. Balancing Heat Production with Heat Loss
    Whole-body metabolism
    Shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis
    Evaporative cooling
    20.2. Endotherms in the Cold
    Avoiding cold and sharing heat
    20.3. Facultative Hypothermia
    Seasonal hypothermia
    Rest-phase hypothermia
    20.4. Endotherms in the Heat
    Temperature stress and scarcity of water
    Strategies for desert survival
    Relaxation of homeostasis by hyperthermia
    Hypothermia in the desert

    Chapter 21. The Origin and Radiation of Birds
    21.1. Avian Characters in Nonavian Theropods
    Skeletal characters
    Reproduction and parental care
    Body size
    21.2. The Mosaic Evolution of Birds
    How-and why-birds got off the ground
    The appearance of powered avian flight
    21.3. Early Birds
    21.4. The Mesozoic Radiations of Birds

    Chapter 22. Extant Birds
    22.1. The Structure of Birds: Specialization for Flight
    Streamlining and weight reduction
    22.2. Wings and Flight
    Wing muscles
    Wing shape and flight characteristics
    22.3. Feet
    Hopping, walking, and running
    22.4. Feeding and Digestion
    Beaks, skulls, and tongues
    The digestive system
    22.5. Sensory Systems
    22.6. Social Behavior
    Plumage colors and patterns
    Vocalization, sonation, and visual displays
    22.7. Oviparity
    Egg biology
    Sex determination
    Maternal control of sex of offspring
    22.8. Monogamy: Social and Genetic
    22.9. Nests and Parental Care
    Parental care
    Brood parasitism
    22.10. Orientation and Navigation
    22.11. Migration
    Migratory movements
    Costs and benefits of migration
    22.12. Birds and Urbanization
    Success in the city
    Noise pollution
    Not so sexy in the city

    Chapter 23. Geography and Ecology of the Cenozoic Era
    23.1. Continental Geography of the Cenozoic
    23.2. Cenozoic Climates
    Paleogene and Neogene climates
    The Pleistocene ice ages
    23.3. Cenozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems
    23.4. Biogeography of Cenozoic Mammals
    The isolation of Australian mammals
    The isolation of mammals on other continents
    23.5. Cenozoic Extinctions

    Chapter 24. Synapsida and the Evolution of Mammals
    24.1. The Origin of Synapsids
    24.2. The Diversity of Non-Mammalian Synapsids
    Pelycosaurs: Basal non-mammalian synapsids
    Therapsids: More derived non-mammalian synapsids
    Therapsid diversity
    24.3. Evolutionary Trends in Synapsids
    Evolution of the diaphragm
    Evolution of a double occipital condyle
    Evolution of jaws and ears
    24.4. The First Mammals
    Metabolic and growth rates
    Skeletomuscular system
    Feeding and mastication
    Brain, senses, and behavior
    The integument: Epidermis and glands
    Lactation and suckling
    Food processing and swallowing
    Facial musculature
    Internal anatomy
    24.5. Mesozoic Mammals
    Dual radiations of Mesozoic mammals

    Chapter 25. Extant Mammals
    25.1. Major Lineages of Mammals
    25.2. Differences between Therians and Non-Therians
    Craniodental features
    Postcranial skeletal features
    Gait and locomotion
    Information from the genes
    Sex determination and sex chromosomes
    25.3. Differences between Marsupials and Placentals
    25.4. Mammalian Reproduction
    Mammalian urogenital tracts
    Reproductive mode of monotremes: Matrotrophic oviparity
    Reproductive mode of therians: Matrotrophic viviparity
    The earliest therian condition, and the discredited notion of placental superiority
    25.5. Specializations for Feeding: Teeth and Jaws
    Mammalian teeth
    Differences between carnivorous and herbivorous mammals
    Rodents: Specialized feeders
    25.6. Specializations for Locomotion
    Cursorial limb morphology
    Fossorial limb morphology
    25.7. The Evolution of Aquatic Mammals
    Morphological adaptations for life in water
    The evolution of cetaceans
    25.8. Trophy Hunting
    Endangering the endangered: The effect of perceived rarity
    The extinction vortex

    Chapter 26. Primate Evolution and the Emergence of Humans, by Sergi Lopez-Torres
    26.1. Primate Origins and Diversification
    Evolutionary trends and diversity in primates
    26.2. Origin and Evolution of Hominoidea
    Diversity and social behavior of extant apes
    Relationships within Hominoidea
    Diversity of fossil hominoids
    26.3. Origin and Evolution of Humans
    Early hominins
    Ecological and biogeographic aspects of early hominin evolution
    26.4. Derived Hominins: The Genus Homo
    Homo erectus and Homo ergaster
    The Dmanisi hominins
    Homo floresiensis
    Homo naledi
    Precursors of Homo sapiens
    The Neandertals
    The Denisovans
    Origins of modern humans
    What happened to the humans who were already there?
    26.5. Evolution of Human Characteristics
    Large brains
    Speech and language
    Loss of body hair and development of skin pigmentation
    Human technology and culture
    26.6 Why Is Homo sapiens the Only Surviving Hominin Species?
    Hybridization among species of Homo
    26.7 Humans and Other Vertebrates
    Humans as superpredators and environmental disruptors
    Megafaunal extinctions
    Is this the Anthropocene?

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