This book is designed as an easy night's read and introduction to fossil soils and the relatively new disciplines of palaeopedology and astropedology. It includes line art and colour illustrations to visualize the topic for the informed layperson or interested colleagues. It provides comprehensive information on palaeosols, which are soils of the past providing a variety of clues to the evolution of life and climate on Earth and deals with topics such as the evolution of grassland ecosystems, mass extinction of the Late Permian and origin of life, all viewed from the perspective of the fossil record of soils.
Gregory J. Retallack is an emeritus professor at the University of Oregon best known for his research on the fossil record of soils. His efforts at detailed characterization and interpretation of paleosols are documented in more than 300 refereed publications and 12 books. His textbook Soils of the Past is now in its third edition. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America, and a recipient of the Stillwell Medal of the Geological Society of Australia and the Ingerson Award of the Geochemical Society. Three fossil species have been named in his honour: a fern, angiosperm leaf, and mouse deer.