Examining in detail at least one amazing fossil site in every state, Albert Dickas clearly explains the critters preserved in the rocks, from sharks and rhinoceroses to trilobites and horn corals. At some sites, you can sift through the shale in search of fossils to keep; at other sites, you can watch professionals excavate museum-quality specimens.
The entertaining introduction discusses the history of paleontology, including nineteenth-century arguments about the age of Earth. Dickas also provides a short history of life on Earth, from microbes in 3-billion-year-old chert to massive mammals of the Pleistocene ice ages. Contained within the last 541 million years are the Cambrian explosion, the age of crinoids, and five mass extinctions, including the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.