REVIEW: Locked in Time by Dean R. Lomax
Fossils allow us to picture the forms of life that inhabited the earth eons 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 behaviors 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 behaviors 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 paleoartist Bob Nicholls bring these breathtaking moments to life.
All living things, from their bodies to their behavior, have evolved. “Locked in Time” seeks to show fossil evidence of this. Author Dean Lomax (who sold his Star Wars collection to fund his first trip to the US to study in Wyoming) chose 50 fossil examples to examine how dinosaurs, insects, birds, land living whales, turtles, and parasites (among others) developed and showed behaviors that helped them survive the cutthroat competition to get their genes into the next generation. And these aren’t just “here is the animal and what it looked like” or speculations about what these animals were doing at the moment of death and subsequent fossilization. By carefully studying the fossils and comparing them to modern animals and their behavior, Lomax shows that these fossils are early (in some cases half a billion years old) evidence that prove fish sex, that ichthosaurs gave birth to live “icklets” (as Lomax dubs them), or that SUE and other T Rexes suffered from similar jawbone infestations of parasites as modern birds, among other things.
The chapters are divided into broad categories such as reproduction; parental care and den building; migration and travel; hunting, eating and fighting; and a catch-all of weird stuff. Some fossils displaying these behaviors are 500+ millions of years old while others are as recent as just a few million years. Most of these examples are illustrated by (usually) multiple photos of the actual fossils as well as lovely artistic drawings. From fighting to mating, birthing to sleeping, and farting to peeing these amazing fossil finds prove that stuff we and other living beings do everyday began eons ago. Rather than being dry and academic, the writing style is immediate and accessible. This is truly amazing and fascinating stuff. B+