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The landscape of southwestern Wyoming around the ghost town of Fossil is beautiful but harsh; a dry, high mountain desert with cool nights and long, cold winters inhabited by a sparse mountain desert community. But during the early Eocene, more than fifty million years ago, it was a subtropical lake, surrounded by volcanoes and forests and teeming with life. Buried within the sun-baked limestone is spectacular evidence of the lush vegetation and plentiful fauna of the ancient past, a transitional ecosystem giving us clues to how North America recovered from a great extinction event that wiped out dinosaurs and the majority of all species on the planet.
Paleontologists have been conducting excavations at Fossil Butte for more than 150 years, and with The Lost World of Fossil Lake, one of the world's leading experts on the fossils from this spectacular locality takes readers on a fascinating journey through the history of the discovery and exploration of the site. Deftly mixing incredible color photographs of the remarkable fossils uncovered at the site with an explanation of their evolutionary significance, Grande presents an unprecedented, comprehensive portrait of the site, its treasures, and what we've learned from them. Grande presents a broad range of fossilized organisms from Fossil Lake – from single-celled algae to palm trees to crocodiles – and together they make this long-extinct community come to life in all its diversity and splendor. A field guide and atlas round out The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time, enabling readers to identify and classify the majority of the known fossils from the site.
Lavishly produced in full color, The Lost World of Fossil Lake is a stunning reminder of the intellectual and physical beauty of scientific investigation – and a breathtaking window onto our planet's long-lost past.
In the Beginning
Fossils from the FBM: History, Controversy, and Quarry Life
Exposing the Record of Past Life: Fossil Preparation
Classification of Fossils and Their Place in the Web of Life
Arthropods (Phylum Arthropoda)
Mollusks (Phylum Mollusca)
Vertebrates (Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata)
Cartilaginous Fishes (Superclass Chondrichthii)
Ray-Finned Fishes (Superclass Actinopterygii)
Abundance and Distribution of Fish Species
Tetrapods (Superclass Sarcopterygii)
Amphibians (Class Amphibia)
Non-Avian Reptiles (Class Reptilia; Superorders †Paracryptodira, Cryptodira, Squamata, and Crocodylomormha)
Birds (Class Reptilia; Superorder Aves)
Mammals (Class Mammalia)
Green Algae (Phylum Chlorophyceae)
Ferns and Horsetails (Phylum Filicopsida and Phylum Equisetopsida)
Conifers (Phylum Coniferophyta)
Non-Eudicot Flowering Plants (Phylum Angiospermophyta; Subclasses Magnoliids, Monocotyledons, and Ceratophyliids)
Eudicot Flowering Plants (Phylum Angiospermophyta; Subclass Tricolpates)
Reading the Pages of Deep History
Appendix A: Key to the Major FBM Localities
Appendix B: Summary List of FBM “Fish” Species
Appendix C: Summary List of FBM Bird Species
Appendix D: FBM Fossils That Have Been Enhanced, Restored, Inset, or Faked
Appendix E: Using This Book and Comments on Bulletin 63
Appendix F: Sources of Phylogenies Used in This Book
List of Institutional Abbreviations Used in This Book
Lance Grande has been doing fieldwork in the Fossil Butte Member of Southwestern Wyoming for more than 30 years. He is Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Collections at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago and has also been Curator in the Geology Department there since 1983. He is an award-winning author of over one hundred scientific publications, including eleven books on topics ranging from comparative anatomy, living fishes, and evolution, to fossils, gems and minerals. His book Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World (2009), published by the University of Chicago Press, won the 2009 PROSE Award in Earth Sciences, and in 2012 he received the Robert H. Gibbs Award for an Outstanding Body of Published Work in Systematic Ichthyology. He is a Lecturer at the University of Chicago, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois. At the University of Chicago he also serves on the Council of the Graham School, and on the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. He is a board member for the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, and serves on the Executive Steering Committee for The Encyclopedia of Life.
"The fossil lakes of the Green River Formation are fantastic paleontological goldmines, and Lance Grande's new book is a detailed tribute to the wonderful forms of life that thrived among those ancient habitats. From damselflies to bats, The Lost World of Fossil Lake is a comprehensive fossil catalog that fleshes out scenes of Eocene life from the lake bottom to the shore."
- Brian Switek, author of My Beloved Brontosaurus and Written in Stone
"Lance Grande's book is a tour de force celebrating the scientific value, historical background, biodiversity and sheer beauty of the exquisitely preserved fossils from the Fossil Butte localities in Wyoming. Elegantly written with lucid prose, with enjoyable stories about the human culture of fossil collecting, it is an unforgettable, must-have biography of one the world's most significant fossil sites."
- John Long, author of The Dawn of the Deed