This one-semester text is designed for an upper-level majors course. Vertebrates features a unique emphasis on function and evolution of vertebrates, complete anatomical detail, and excellent pedagogy. Vertebrate groups are organized phylogenetically, and their systems discussed within such a context.
Vertebrates: Comparative Anatomy, Function, Evolution – 6th Edition
Morphology is foremost, but the author has developed and integrated an understanding of function and evolution into the discussion of anatomy of the various systems.
Second, to unify these themes, I have again written and revised this sixth edition within the unifying framework of form, function, and evolution. The first few chapters set this up, and the subsequent chapters treat vertebrates system by system. You may notice that each of these subsequent chapters begins with a discussion of morphology, followed by a discussion of function and evolution. Each chapter is therefore self-contained—form, function, evolution.
Third, as a student you likely enter this course after some background in the sciences, perhaps expecting to equip yourself with practical knowledge useful later in professional schools or in health-related careers. Certainly this course, in part, delivers such practical information. But because vertebrate morphology is an integrative discipline, it brings together physiology, embryology, behavior, and ecology and also deploys modern methods of systematics and new finds in paleontology.
Consequently, you will move beyond memorizing facts in isolation or as an end in themselves, and instead begin to meet and understand larger concepts. What may come as a surprise is that many theories, especially evolutionary theories within vertebrate biology, are still unsettled and unresolved, inviting a new idea or fresh approach open to anyone. This is one of the reasons I have included various controversies, and support your efforts to become engaged in the thinking and scientific process.
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