We used to think of fossils as being composed of nothing but rock and minerals, all molecular traces of life having vanished long ago. We were wrong. Remnants of Ancient Life reveals how the new science of ancient biomolecules – pigments, proteins, and DNA that once functioned in living organisms tens of millions of years ago – is opening a new window onto the evolution of life on Earth.
Paleobiologists are now uncovering these ancient remnants in the fossil record with increasing frequency, shedding vital new light on long-extinct creatures and the lost world they inhabited. Dale Greenwalt is your guide to these astonishing breakthroughs. He explains how ancient biomolecules hold the secrets to how mammoths dealt with the bitter cold, what colours dinosaurs exhibited in mating displays, how ancient viruses evolved to become more dangerous, and much more. Each chapter discusses different types of biomolecules and the insights they provide about the physiology, behaviour, and evolution of extinct organisms, many of which existed long before the age of dinosaurs.
A marvellous adventure of discovery, Remnants of Ancient Life offers an unparalleled look at an emerging science that is transforming our picture of the remote past. You will never think of fossils in the same way again.
Dale E. Greenwalt is a Resident Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where he curates the Kishenehn Formation fossil insect collection.