The Rise and Reign of the Mammals review: how mammals found

The story of the emergence of mammals is told with elan in a clear, engaging book – with a nasty sting in the tale for us humans


8 June 2022

T7XCF5 A brown dimetrodon, a prehistoric sail-backed creature that predates the dinosaurs, stands in a sunlit permian forest bearing its sharp teeth.

A sail-backed Dimetrodon looked like a primitive dinosaur, but was a reptile-like precursor to mammals

Daniel Eskridge / Alamy Stock Photo

The Rise and Reign of the Mammals

Steve Brusatte


ANYONE writing about mammals faces a key challenge: not making it about us. Humans are mammals of course, and it is easy to present the tale of mammalian evolution as inexorably leading to our arrival. Palaeontologist Steve Brusatte deftly avoids this problem in his new history of mammals by leaving almost all mention of humans to the final pages, where we come in as, essentially, …

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