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The Rise of Amphibians

365 Million Years of Evolution

by (author) Robert Carroll

Johns Hopkins University Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2009
General, Paleontology, Evolution, Reptiles & Amphibians
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2009
    List Price

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2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

Honorable Mention, Biological and Life Sciences, 2009 PROSE Awards, Professional and Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers

For nearly 100 million years, amphibians and their ancestors dominated the terrestrial and shallow water environments of the earth. Archaic animals with an amphibious way of life gave rise not only to modern frogs, salamanders, and caecilians but also to the ancestors of reptiles, birds, and mammals. In this landmark publication, one of the leading paleontologists of our time explores a pivotal moment in vertebrate evolution, the rise of amphibians.

Synthesizing findings from the rich and highly diverse fossil record of amphibians, Robert Carroll traces their origin back 365 million years, when particular species of fish traveled down an evolutionary pathway of fin modification that gave rise to legs. This period of dramatic radiation was followed by a cataclysmic extinction 250 million years ago. After a long gap, modern amphibian groups gradually emerged. Now the number of amphibian species and individuals throughout the tropical and temperate regions of the earth exceeds that of mammals.

The Rise of Amphibians is documented with more than two hundred illustrations of fossil amphibians and sixteen exquisite color plates depicting amphibians in their natural habitats throughout their long existence. The most comprehensive examination of amphibian evolution ever produced, The Rise of Amphibians is an essential resource for paleontologists, herpetologists, geologists, and evolutionary biologists.

About the author

Robert Carroll, professor emeritus at McGill University, was the long-time director of the Redpath Museum and chairman of the Department of Biology and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is among the world’s most highly regarded experts on the evolution of amphibians and reptiles. Carroll is the author of several books, including Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution.

Robert Carroll's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"A useful reference catalog for the professional or well-read amateur."

American Paleontologist

"Bob Carroll is telling us, in a modern and very readable style, the history of the amphibians, with an osteological precision nobody else has. In fact, with this new book, he shows us he stays the same, our 'Master Yoda of the amphibians.'"

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

"Provides a wealth of valuable information about this fascinating history in a clear, easily readable style."

Quarterly Review of Biology

"This is the landmark work on the evolution of amphibians, and will be enjoyed and used for many years to come."


"The Rise of Amphibians should be on the bookshelf of anyone involved in vertebrate evolution... an excellent source of information... It is a first-choice reference book that stimulates further studies and research."

Systematic Biology

"A high-quality production, with finely illustrated drawings of skulls, vertebrae, ribs, teeth, and long bones of more amphibians, past and present, than most of us imagined even existed."

Tuscaloosa News

"Carroll has excelled himself by putting together such a magnificent piece of work, with information that is balanced efficiently."

Herpetological Bulletin

"I enjoyed reading this fascinating book. It will become a landmark and standard reference in early amphibian evolution for years to come."


"I highly recommend The Rise of Amphibians to anyone interested not only in amphibians but also in the evolutionary history of vertebrates in general."

Integrative and Comparative Biology