ISBN is

978-1-56331-829-0 / 1563318296

Atlas of the Prehistoric World

by Palmer, Douglas

Publisher:Random House, Inc.

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

The earth is not the spring chicken it was 4.6 billion years ago. With the passing of the millennia, earth's face, weathered by heat and ice and subject to tectonic friction, has erupted, wrinkled, and sagged, as do all our faces ultimately, only more so. Continents have shifted, merged, and split apart. Seas have turned to land and land has been submerged by seas. And microorganisms have evolved into the vast diversity of flora and fauna that exists today. Douglas Palmer's Atlas is a digest of what is known so far about the history of the earth, enhanced with brilliant maps, photographs, and illustrations, and explained in lucid, enjoyable prose.

The Atlas starts off with "The Changing Globe," 36 beautiful pages of maps that chart the changing face of the earth from Vendian Times some 620 million years ago, when land was massed in two continents called Northern and Southern Gondwana. Flipping through the vivid pages, one sees how Siberia, during Early Cambrian Times, began to move north from its South Pole location, how in Odovician Times (460 million years ago) the Iapetus Ocean was beginning to close while the Rheic Ocean was starting to open, and how a volcano in what's now Virginia spewed volcanic ash as far away as what's now Minnesota, while in Carboniferous Times (a mere 354 million years ago), there were swampy forests in Nova Scotia that are the coal fields of today.

"Ancient Worlds," the next section of the atlas, charts life, from the aquatic microbes formed 3.5 billion years ago and the multicelled organisms of the Vendian Period, the early-Cambrian brachiopods and the Silurian spiny trilobites, on through to the Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs, the Tertiary mammals, and the entrance of hominids just 5 million years ago. The extinction of the dinosaurs is explained, the Ice Age is described, and, in the "Earth Fact File," 200 years of scientific discovery are chronicled.

Douglas Palmer, a professor of natural and earth sciences at Cambridge University, also writes science articles for Science and New Scientist, and is the author of many books on paleontology. His Atlas is an excellent layperson's reference for families and students, rendering a vast amount of history and science in a highly accessible, entertaining format. --Stephanie Gold

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