Fires of Life Endothermy in Birds and Mammals Barry Gordon Lovegrove, Roger S Seymour

Publication date:
13 Aug 2019
Yale University Press
384 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm
60 b-w illus.
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A groundbreaking argument on how endothermy—arguably the most important innovation in vertebrate evolution—developed in birds and mammals

“Vividly narrated and illustrated. . . . Provocative and fascinating for specialists and lay readers alike.”—Southeastern Naturalist 

This pioneering work investigates why endothermy, or “warm-bloodedness,” evolved in birds and mammals, despite its enormous energetic costs. Arguing that single-cause hypotheses to explain the origins of endothermy have stalled research since the 1970s, Barry Gordon Lovegrove advances a novel conceptual framework that considers multiple potential causes and integrates data from the southern as well as the northern hemisphere. Drawing on paleontological data; research on extant species in places like the Karoo, Namaqualand, Madagascar, and Borneo; and novel physiological models, Lovegrove builds a compelling new explanation for the evolution of endothermy. Vividly narrated and illustrated, this book stages a groundbreaking argument that should prove provocative and fascinating for specialists and lay readers alike.

Barry Gordon Lovegrove is professor emeritus in the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the author of The Living Deserts of Southern Africa, winner of the 1995 University of Natal Book Prize, and co-editor of Hypometabolism in Animals.

“[T]here are ideas here that palaeontologists and physiologists disagree with. That is all part and parcel of doing science and Lovegrove is familiar with the many debates. Fires of Life, meanwhile, makes physiology incredibly fascinating and ranks very high on my list of favourite books on evolution this year.”— Leon Vlieger, Natural History Book Service

"In my view Barry Gordon Lovegrove is probably the best person alive to tackle this subject in the round."—Andrew Clarke, Emeritus Fellow, British Antarctic Survey, author of Principles of Thermal Ecology

"This book was quite impossible to put down. Barry Gordon Lovegrove has spent his life working on issues related to the question he poses, and his thoughts and ideas are well worth considering."—Mark Brigham, University of Regina and Rhodes University

"Barry Lovegrove has a history of tackling key macroevolutionary questions from the perspective of evolutionary physiology. In this must-read, he elucidates the evolution of endothermy in mammals and in the ancestors of birds and dinosaurs."—Theodore Garland, Jr., University of California, Riverside

“The evolutionary journey of endothermy in vertebrates: a lot older and hotter than you think.”—Fritz Geiser, University of New England