Synapsids, and where to learn more about them.
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    Synapsids, and where to learn more about them.

    So I've recently been delving into the history of creatures of this planet, and yes, everyone knows about dinosaurs and if you want to be good at creature design and anatomy it's good to not only look into present day creatures but also extinct species. But looking even further back into Earths past I've learnt about the precursors of dinosaurs, the Synapsids. I personally find these creatures incredibly interesting from what I've been able to find, but that's kind of the problem. They are so heavily overshadowed by Dinosaurs that any information seems to only pertain to their decline or how they're just a stepping stone of evolution, nothing showing a great deal of information about their evolution or physiology.

    I guess what I'm asking is does anyone know where to find detailed information on this incredibly large (and important) class of animals? Books? Blogs? Websites? I'd just like to learn more and it's proving difficult.

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    Two good paleontology blogs are Darren Naish's Tetrapod Zoology and Brian Switek's Laelaps. Although they both post a lot of dinosaur content (because hey, they're cool, and the marquee attraction), they also cover lots of pre- and post-mesozoic stuff as well.
    The BBC did a three-part "prequel" series to Walking With Dinosaurs called Walking With Monsters that covers life in the Cambrian through the early Triassic.

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    The Encyclopedia of Life is a good basic reference for, well, all kinds of life, past and present - there's not always a lot of images, but it's a good starting point for looking things up: http://eol.org/

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    yeah walking with monstors is ace, the cambrian stuff is amazingly alien, even though our common ancestor swam in those demon infested waters. and the giant sea reptiles are incredible. real actual god monsters!

    speaking of the cambrian explosion theres a hill near where my rentals live i had a look at it over xmas. theres a place where the rock immediately below a discontinuity is sterile and above is full of fossils. it shows the epoch life got large and complex and took over the planet in an eyeblink of geological time. its a pretty cool thing to see. the actual sand of that seabed compressed into a rock you can touch. electric.

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    For mammalian forebears, or forebears in general, you might like reading Richard Dawkins book ĎThe Ancestorís Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolutioní. I found all of itís 600+ pages one of the most imaginatively stimulating reads. SciFi has nothing on this stuff.

    Dawkins talks about Therapsids (advanced Synapsids) here starting on page 251 of the book (hopefully it links well).

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