Theoretical morphology--which seeks to sketch the range of forms that biological entities could take, with the ultimate goal of discovering why certain forms exist but others do not--is among paleontology's most significant contributions to the understanding of evolution. Today, with the aid of computers in developing conceivable morphologies, the discipline has been able to advance into a remarkable tool for the study of evolution. Yet despite these advances, the field remains largely untapped and ripe with research potential. In this volume, paleontologist George McGhee presents the first complete overview of the field, its advancements in recent years, and the challenges ahead.
Theoretical Morphology provides readers with the background they need to launch their own research. McGhee describes the steps involved in defining the geometric parameters (theoretical morphospaces) for an organic form in order to generate a spectrum of other possible forms that have never actually appeared. He also addresses the simulation of actual processes of morphogenesis, with the goal of attaining a more nuanced comprehension of how evolutionary processes work.
Theoretical Morphology takes readers through a variety of theoretical morphospaces including those for univalved, bivalved, discrete, and branching growth systems. With a glossary of terms and a comprehensive list of references on the subject, this is an excellent handbook for graduate students or professional scientists interested in employing these cutting-edge techniques in their own research.