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Traces life's first foothold on earth and the explosion of creation in the Cambrian era, through the reigning years of the largest animals to ever walk the planet - the dinosaurs of the Mesozoic - to the emergence of Homo sapiens two hundred thousand years ago. This illustrated volume reports on extraordinary fossil finds and currently vying theories of evolution. Included are the most pivotal discoveries of paleontology: the unearthing of Australophithecus in Ethiopia, the treasure trove of fossils in the Gobi desert, and the startling discovery that Neanderthals lived in Europe only thirty thousand years ago.