The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
5.6 X 8.7 X 1.1 inches | 1.15 pounds

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About the Author

Donald R. Prothero is a Research Associate in Vertebrate Paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He has taught college geology and paleontology for 40 years at institutions such as Columbia University, Vassar College, Knox College, and Pierce College, and currently at Cal Poly Pomona. For 27 years, he was Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University. He is the author of over 300 scientific papers published in leading journals and over 30 titles in geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology.


Donald R. Prothero is one of the most talented science writers of his generation--as a paleontological writer, he has no peer. This is an engaging, attractive book!--David J. Bottjer, University of Southern California
There is no other book that brings together such diverse fossils and tells their unique stories in a way that is both accurate and approachable.--Xiaoming Wang, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Story of Life in 25 Fossils shows the reader the joys of paleontological discovery as well as the stories behind some of the most important fossils. I loved reading it, and I suspect that most paleontologists, and many members of the general public, will feel the same way--the text is lucid, extremely easy to read, and highly informative. Anyone interested in ancient life-forms and the fossil record would be well served to buy this book.--Bruce S. Lieberman, University of Kansas
Prothero, an outstanding paleontologist and skilled communicator, has written the best up-to-date account of the history of life as revealed by the fossil record that I have ever had the pleasure to read. His lucid prose brings these long-dead organisms back to life, while painting a picture of how all life has been interconnected through evolution. I was especially struck by the inclusion of field outcrops, as well as museums, where one can go to see these fossils. I will keep Prothero's book handy as a core reference for years to come!--Niles Eldredge, author of Eternal Ephemera: Adaptation and the Origin of Species from the Nineteenth Century Through Punctuated Equilibria and Beyond
Prothero's careful description of 25 fossils... offer[s] an overview of the progression of plants and animals in the last 3.5 billion years.--Ashley Yeager "Sciece News "
[Prothero] pays attention not just to the fossils themselves but to the continuing quest to uncover and understand how life has been changing since it first came into existence on Earth. Sure, The Story of Life in 25 Fossils includes snakes with legs, giant dinosaurs, walking whales and extinct primates whose existence confirms that our own species is a variety of modified ape. But most chapters also introduce us to the researchers who labored to pull back the curtain on lost worlds.--Brian Switek "Wall Street Journal "
Ideal for all who love prehistoric landscapes and delight in the history of science, this book makes a treasured addition to any bookshelf, stoking curiosity in the evolution of life on Earth.--Ian Paulsen "The Birdbooker Report "
Prothero brings erudition and expert perspective to the material, but animates it in an entertaining and accessible manner. It reads like a fun conversation with a learned friend.--Nathan H. Lents "The Human Evolution Blog "
Written with bright enthusiasm... [The Story of Life in 25 Fossils] is a wonderful primer.--Rob Hardy "The Commercial Dispatch "
A thoroughly enjoyable, highly readable, and entertaining book. Prothero is a masterful communicator of science and a lover of paleontology, and these traits have combined to produce one of the best books on the history of life I have read. If you want an introduction to the history of life on Earth, get this book.--Jason S. Anderson "BioScience "
A great introduction to the history of life on the planet Earth... A solid primer on why evolution is true.... A fun read with lots of tales of paleontological adventure and derring-do.... I recommend this book without hesitation.--John Dupuis "Confessions of a Science Librarian "
A guide to museums where the original fossils or high-quality reproductions are housed and more than 150 illustrations accompany Prothero's lively account of the science and politics that shaped the rich history of these discoveries.--Kirkus Reviews
Engaging and accessible.... Ideal for anyone interested in the origins of life on earth.--Library Journal (starred review)
An accessible, well-done book that will better enable general readers to understand the fossil record and how paleontologists interpret it.--Publishers Weekly
Chock full of excellent and interesting illustrations.... [Prothero] writes excellent, readable prose, and vigorously makes connections between evolutionary questions and evolutionary data.--Greg Laden's Blog
A magnificent journey through life's story told in such loving detail.... Highly recommended.--Choice
[The book], written with bright enthusiasm and describing clearly how the fossil record shows evolution to have occured, is a wonderful primer about what paleontologists do.--The Dispatch