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Atlas of the Prehistoric World
Douglas Palmer, 1999, Discovery Books, N.Y.
From Booklist

atlas of the prehistoric world.This beautiful book is organized into three sections. "The Changing Globe" features Earth maps of periods from Vendian (approximately 620 million years ago) to Quaternary (from 1.8 million years ago to the present) times. For each era, representations of the globe show the shifting of land mass and climactic changes, such as when Antarctica froze over. These changes are noted by brief descriptions of numbered areas on each globe.

The second section, "Ancient Worlds," narrates the geological and biological history of the last four and a half billion years, period by period. The illustrations in this section are stimulating--what student won't be further driven to search for fossils by viewing actual fragments of a carboniferous fern frond or the rugose horn coral? On each succeeding page depicting complex animal life, excitement builds--even before the dinosaurs appear. Adding interest are descriptions of how scientists have been unraveling Earth's mysteries over the last 200 years.

"Earth Fact File," the third section, explores the history of Earth sciences and looks at rock formation, plate tectonics, and fossil classification. It also offers brief biographies of women and men who have made important discoveries. Two pages devote attention to places all over the world where one can visit to see fossils of prehistoric creatures or can virtually visit through Web pages. (However, three of these sites couldn't be accessed through the given URLs.)

Teachers might want to include in the same classroom library The Historical Atlas of the Earth: A Visual Exploration of the Earth's Physical Past, edited by Roger Osborne and Donald Tarling (Holt, 1996). It is interesting to compare and contrast information that each source covers to demonstrate how our knowledge is constantly evolving. Earth's history is constantly being reexamined with each scientific discovery, and an attractive resource like Atlas of the Prehistoric World will help young people see that there is a place for them in this adventure. It is recommended for school and public libraries. end of story.


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