I have always been a bookworm. If you are a bibliophile too, you will probably want to read further, because this is about a book that is a truly exceptional achievement.
Sixty years ago, when I was in the 7th grade, the theory of plate tectonics was unknown. An old boy scientist and adventurer named Alfred Wegener had noticed some similarities between parts of the continents and how they seemed to fit together, like parts of a great jigsaw puzzle, and he theorized that they were floating around somehow and had once actually been nestled together. It was considered a crackpot idea. Then, about 1950 scientists discovered paleomagnetism, proof of how pieces of the Earth were oriented when they were first formed. The puzzle was cracked. Now just about everybody except the Texas State Board of Education and parts of Kansas and Pennsylvania knows that Wegener was right. What a long way we have come! Knowledge about the Earth and how life got here has exploded in my lifetime.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a book that tied all the Earth sciences together with references, photographs and illustrations, documenting how the Earth formed, how the continents have drifted, how it looked at various stages, how life began and evolved, what the actual fossils look like. In short, how all the science pieces of geology, biology and anthropology fit together in a vast mosaic that all makes sense? Well, this is our lucky day. The Joplin Library has such a book, and it is so good that I am in awe of its accomplishment. Alfred Wegener would be blown away.
Published in 2009 by DK Publishing, author Douglas Palmer, et. al., Prehistoric Life is, according to its cover, “The definitive visual history of life on earth”. Wow. That’s a pretentious claim, but I believe it is accurate. This is a heavy tome.
Its summary states: “With an extensive catalog at its heart, Prehistoric Life profiles hundreds of fascinating species in incredible detail; features breathtaking, state of the art images; explores the concept of geological time; and explains the classification of species and how the evidence for their evolution is preserved and can be deciphered.” The statement does not exaggerate. If you like dinosaurs you’re really going to love this book. It even has humanoids. Uh oh. Prepare to be transported. Just ignore the drool marks. I couldn’t help it.
Please let me know if you share my enthusiasm for this publishing achievement.