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The Rise of Animals

Evolution and Diversification of the Kingdom Animalia

by (author) Mikhail A. Fedonkin, James G. Gehling, Kathleen Grey, Guy M. Narbonne & Patricia Vickers-Rich

foreword by Arthur C. Clarke

Johns Hopkins University Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2008
General, Paleontology, Evolution
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2008
    List Price

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Winner, 2009 Victorian Premier's Literary Prize for Science Writing

Among the major events in evolutionary history, few rival in importance the appearance of animals. The Rise of Animals—a significant reference providing a comprehensive synthesis of the early radiation of the animal kingdom—fully captures this moment in geologic time.

Five of the world's leading paleontologists take us on a journey to the most important fossil sites that serve as unique windows to the earliest animal life—including the Ediacara Hills of Australia, the Russian taiga and tundra, the deserts of southwest Africa, and the rugged coasts of Newfoundland. Each of these places holds a rich fossil record that reveals how the animal form came into existence and why some groups succeeded while others failed. The authors describe the diversification of the Kingdom Animalia into the familiar body plans of today: from simple animals such as sponges to complex groups like mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, and chordates that appear explosively in the Cambrian.

This exquisitely illustrated book reveals the early moments of an evolutionary process that eventually resulted in our own species. An essential resource for paleontologists, biologists, geologists, and teachers, The Rise of Animals is the best single reference on one of earth’s most significant events.

About the authors

Mikhail A. Fedonkin is the head of the Precambrian Laboratory at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Mikhail A. Fedonkin's profile page

James G. Gehling is the senior curator at the South Australian Museum.

James G. Gehling's profile page

Kathleen Grey is the chief paleontologist at the Geological Survey of Western Australia.

Kathleen Grey's profile page

Guy M. Narbonne is a professor and Queen's Research Chair at Queens University, Canada.

Guy M. Narbonne's profile page

Patricia Vickers-Rich holds a personal chair of paleontology and is founding director of the Monash Science Centre at Monash University in Australia.

Patricia Vickers-Rich's profile page

Arthur C. Clarke's profile page


  • Winner, Victorian Premier's Literary Prize for Science Writing

Editorial Reviews

"Recommended. Informed general readers; researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners."


"It's a beautiful book and the definitive account of the period... I love it and expect it to become a classic."

New Scientist

"A one-stop shop for up-to-date information about this puzzling meagerie... non-professionals will likewise find that it is a fine-looking book that captures the excitement of scientific discovery."


"The Rise of Animals offers a much-needed avenue to communicate to the general public the past decade's exciting discoveries of Ediacaran fossils."