Fossils allow us to picture the forms of life that inhabited the earth aeons ago. But we long to know more: how did these animals actually behave? We are fascinated by the daily lives of our fellow creatures – how they reproduce and raise their young, how they hunt their prey or elude their predators, and more. What would it be like to see prehistoric animals as they lived and breathed?
From dinosaurs fighting to their deaths to elephant-sized burrowing ground sloths, this book takes readers on a global journey deep into the earth’s past. Locked in Time showcases fifty of the most astonishing fossils ever found, brought together in five fascinating chapters that offer an unprecedented glimpse at the real-life behaviours of prehistoric animals. Dean R. Lomax examines the extraordinary direct evidence of fossils captured in the midst of everyday action: dinosaurs sitting on their eggs like birds, Jurassic flies preserved while mating, a T. rex infected by parasites. Each fossil, he reveals, tells a unique story about prehistoric life. Many recall behaviours typical of animals familiar to us today, evoking the chain of evolution that links all living things to their distant ancestors. Locked in Time allows us to see that fossils are not just inanimate objects: they can record the life stories of creatures as fully alive as any today. Striking and scientifically rigorous illustrations by renowned palaeoartist Bob Nicholls bring these breathtaking moments to life.
Introduction: Unlocking the Prehistoric World
Ditching the “Dusty Old Fossils”
Understanding Behavior in Fossils
- Mother Fish and Sex as We Know It
- Dinosaur Sex Dance
- Life in Death: Live Birth in Pregnant “Fish-Lizards”
- Jurassic Sex: Captured Forever in the Act
- A Pregnant Plesiosaur
- When Whales Gave Birth on Land
- Sexing a Cretaceous Bird
- Shell-Shocked Mating Turtles
- Tiny Horses and Tiny Foals
2. Parental Care and Communities
- Brooding Dinosaurs
- Oldest Parental Care: Ancient Arthropods and Their Young
- Pterosaur Nesting Grounds
- Megalodon Nursery
- The Babysitter
- Dinosaur Death Trap
- A Prehistoric Pompeii: An Ecosystem Caught in Time
- Fish Trapped Inside Giant Clams
- Snowmastodon: A Refuge for Small Animals
- Giant Floating Ecosystem: A Jurassic Megaraft Crinoid Colony
3. Moving and Making Homes
- Mammal Movers: Tragedy at the River Crossing
- Follow the Leader: The Earliest Animal Migrations
- Sitting on the Jurassic Bay
- The Death March: The Final Steps of a Jurassic Horseshoe Crab
- Mass Moth Migration
- Dinosaur Death Pits
- Time to Grow When You Molt and Go
- Prehistoric Partners: The Odd Couple
- Devil’s Corkscrews
- The Dinosaur That Lived in a Burrow
- Giant Underground Sloths
4. Fighting, Biting, and Feeding
- Clash of the Mammoths
- The Fighting Dinosaurs
- Jurassic Drama: A Hunt Gone Wrong
- Terror Worm of the Primeval Sea
- Greedy Fish
- Cracking the Case of the Bone-Crushing Dogs
- To Catch a Killer: The Snake That Dined on Baby Dinosaurs
- A Dinosaur-Eating Mammal
- The Feeding Ground: “Something Interesting?”
- Hell Pig Meat Cache
- Prehistoric Dolls: Fossil Food Chains with a Twist
5. Unusual Happenings
- Parasite Rex
- Mass Mammal Strandings: An Epic Ancient Graveyard
- Soundly Sleeping Dragon
- Snap That! A Dramatic Jurassic Croc
- The Drama of a Drought?
- Eaten From the Inside Out
- Dinosaur Tumors
- Fossilized “Farts”
- Could It Be Dinosaur Pee
Dean R. Lomax is an internationally recognized palaeontologist, author, television presenter, and science communicator. He is currently a visiting scientist at the University of Manchester and is a leading authority on ichthyosaurs. His books include Dinosaurs of the British Isles (2014) and Prehistoric Pets (2020).
Bob Nicholls is a world-renowned natural history artist who specializes in the reconstruction of prehistoric animals, plants, and environments. His illustrations and models have been published in more than forty books and exhibited in over forty museums, universities, and visitor attractions around the world.
"A rousing romp through the fossil record. Dean Lomax's storytelling and Robert Nicholls' artwork reanimate the lifestyles and behaviors of long-extinct species. Revel along as old bones, teeth, and footprints tell the tale of dinosaur mating dances, fighting mammoths, and pterodactyl nurseries."
– Steve Brusatte, University of Edinburgh palaeontologist and New York Times bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
"Vividly told with stunning illustrations, Locked in Time is an essential book for any fossil fan. From the ancient steps of a horseshoe crab to courting dinosaurs, Lomax and Nicholls achieve the closest thing to time travel in bringing the prehistoric back to life."
– Riley Black, author of Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone
"When we think about the animals of the past, we're drawn to a small handful of movie dinosaurs, but in this fascinating and engaging book, Lomax brings to life incredible moments in the lives of animals from throughout prehistory, discovering the universal in the specific and offering us an insight into our sense of place on this planet. While being immersed in scientific literature, Lomax has a gift for extracting events from millions of years ago and giving them meaning for everyone today."
– Ellie Harrison, presenter of Dinosaur Britain
"A beetle within a lizard within a snake, a giant beaver that made huge corkscrew burrows 3 meters deep, the mammal that ate dinosaurs, insects caught in the act of mating, and dinosaurs with cancer [...] Dean Lomax presents an extraordinary tour through recent fossil discoveries that shed light on all aspects of the life of the past. These extraordinary scenarios are brought to life in exquisite reconstructions by Bob Nicholls. These are fossils that don’t make it into the textbooks; your appreciation of the history of life will never be the same again!"
– Michael J. Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology, University of Bristol
"A number of exceptional, spectacular fossils show – via the most direct evidence imaginable – that the extinct animals of the past were once very much alive. They preserve animals giving birth, swallowing prey, and even having sex. Others reveal cases where animals died from poisoning, choking, or even when locked in combat. Join Dr. Dean Lomax in this beautifully illustrated, thoroughly researched but accessibly written tour of animals forever locked in time."
– Darren Naish, coauthor of Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved
"Locked in Time offers an unprecedented glimpse into the real-life behaviours of prehistoric animals. It has been meticulously researched and Dr [Dean] Lomax is a most eloquent and well-informed tour guide. Renowned palaeoartist Bob Nicholls provides the sumptuous illustrations that brings Dean's narrative to life."
– Everything Dinosaur