The Evolutionary History of Nematodes

As revealed in stone, amber and mummies


Nematodes are one of the most abundant groups of invertebrates on the face of the earth. Their numbers are estimated to range from 1000 per cm2 in the sand-covered hydrogen sulphide ‘black zone’ beneath the ocean floors to 1.2 billion in a single hectare of soil. Estimates for their species diversity range from 100 000 to 10 million. The past history of nematodes is a mystery, since very few fossils have been discovered. This book establishes a solid base in palaeonematology with descriptions of 66 new fossil species and accounts of all previous fossil and subfossil nematodes from sedimentary deposits, coprolites, amber and mummies. It shows how nematode fossils can be used to establish lineages at various locations and time periods in the earth’s history and when nematodes entered into symbiotic and parasitic associations with plants and animals.
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Biographical Note

George O. Poinar Jr obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University where he specialised in insect-parasitic nematodes. He then conducted postdoctoral investigations with nematologists in England, France and The Netherlands. During his 30 years at UC Berkeley, Dr Poinar conducted research on nematode parasites of invertebrates and began investigating amber fossils. He is currently continuing these studies at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA. Dr Poinar has published extensively on nematodes as well as amber fossils and has authored or co-authored several books on the subjects. The present work is a fusion of his interest in nematodes and amber.

Review Quotes

The book is very easy reading; the author’s writing style makes the scientific text interesting and involving. All descriptions and explanations are well thought out and reasonable. […] this book could be very beneficial for planning a further detailed study of these fossils by using molecular and the finest morphological methods.
Virmantas Stunžėnas in Zoology and Ecology (2012) 22, 78.

[...] I found that the book is very well written throughout and engaging [...] I think that this is definitely an academic manuscript that will be most appealing to nematode aficionados.
David Clarke in: The Quarterly Review of Biology, (2013) 88, 130

This is a very good book. […] the author is to be congratulated for his initiative and achievement in the production of such an enjoyable book that is well written, coherent and presented in a clear and logical format useful for scientists, teachers, students, interested in paleonematology at large and in the evolutionary history of nematodes in particular.Furthermore, the extensive reference list provides the reader with an excellent starting point for further research.
Pablo Castillo in: Plant Pathology (2012) 61, 423

[...] this book is both interesting and fascinating, written in a very intelligible style presenting good and surprisingly clear photographs and, therefore, is useful for students, researchers and teachers in Nematology, Palaeontology and Ethology.
Nicola Vovlas, in: Nematol. medit. (2011), 39: 207

George Poinar has produced a true biological-paleontological masterpiece! [...].
Arthur J. Boucot, in: Palaios (2011) DOI : 10.2110/palo.2011.BR65


The book is written in a style comprehensible to students, teachers and researchers in nematology, palaeontology, parasitology, anthropology, evolution and ethology.


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