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Early Flowers and Angiosperm Evolution

Early Flowers and Angiosperm Evolution
Else Marie Friis, Peter R. Crane, and Kaj Raunsgaard Pedersen
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: 

decorated boards, 585 pp., $160.00

This book presents a comprehensive and detailed examination of the origin and diversification of the flowering plants (angiosperms) based on their rich Cretaceous fossil record. The book begins with several useful background chapters on topics such as an introduction to angiosperms, environmental context for early angiosperm evolution, fossil locality descriptions, overview of seed plant relationships and fossil record, discussion of the age and origin of angiosperms, and evolutionary relationships within the flowering plants. The introductory chapters are followed by a systematically organized treatment of the diversity of angiosperms together with information on the Cretaceous fossil record of each of these groups. The text is richly complemented by photographs and illustrations of the fossils. These chapters present information on all types of available fossil evidence, but the bulk of the Cretaceous angiosperm record, and the great strength of this book, is the compilation of information on the abundant and diverse “mesofossils” (small fossil flowers, fruits, and seeds) that have been described by Friis, Crane, and Pederson (and several other authors) over the past 30 years or so. These fossil reproductive structures are usually three-dimensionally preserved and have been essential in the progress that has been made in understanding the early evolutionary history of flowering plants. The book concludes with synthesis of various aspects of the angiosperm fossil record. It includes an extensive bibliography and index.

This book will be very useful as a textbook for university courses. It may also be of interest to the dedicated amateur botanist or paleontologist, and it will be an essential reference for researchers working in angiosperm systematics and evolution.

— Patrick S. Herendeen, co-director, division of plant science and conservation, Chicago Botanic Garden