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November 2015 Vol. 53 No. 3

Johns Hopkins University Press

The following review appeared in the November 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Science & Technology
Biology - Zoology

Chatterjee, Sankar. The rise of birds: 225 million years of evolution. 2nd ed. Johns Hopkins, 2015. 370p bibl index afp ISBN 9781421415901, $59.95; ISBN 9781421416144 ebook, $59.95.

Over 10,000 species of birds live in today’s world, ranging from penny-sized hummingbirds to ostriches.  Some can fly at altitudes of 30,000 feet over the Himalayas, others can glide through the water, and some don’t fly at all.  How did this incredible diversity come to be?  That question is tackled by Sankar Chatterjee’s academic tome The Rise of Birds (CH, Mar'98, 35-3862), a 1997 classic that nearly two decades later has been updated in a second edition.  Chatterjee ( Texas Tech Univ.) is a paleontologist who has spent his career digging up fossil birds and other ancient treasures.  In his book he recounts one of the greatest stories in evolution: how birds evolved from fierce theropod dinosaurs like Velociraptor.  Using personal stories of fieldwork and copious illustrations, Chatterjee places birds in the family tree of dinosaurs and explains how classic bird features such as feathers and flight evolved.  This volume is a tour de force for more advanced readers but suffers at times from Chatterjee’s iconoclastic views on early bird evolution.  Still, it belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the natural history of birds, particularly researchers.  Recommended for advanced readers, students, and researchers.

--S. L. Brusatte, American Museum of Natural History

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers/faculty, and professionals/practitioners.