padThe Ghosts of Evolution Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms

by Connie Barlow

This fascinating book suggests that we can learn much about long-extinct animals like mastodons and giant ground sloths by studying the plants they once ate, some of which still thrive. Barlow builds upon the idea posited by ecologist Dan Janzen and paleontologist Paul Martin in 1982 that these animals once dispersed the seeds of certain fruits in Central American forests. Some of these animals have been extinct for 13,000 years, yet their partner fruits, such as honey locust, avocados, and mangoes live on. Barlow considers how these anachronisms are possible and looks to new theories to explain the evolution of ecosystems.

Basic Bks, 2001, 291 p., b&w; photos/illus., hardcover

Ghosts of Evolution, The
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