This post is also available in audio form: https://anchor.fm/makayla-palm/episodes/Locked-in-Time–Animal-Behavior-Unearthed-in-50-Extraordinary-Fossils-e1g0pan
Author: Dean R. Lomax
Illustrator: Bob Nicholls
Publication Date: 2021, Columbia University Press
Rating description: introduces technical terms, but mainly uses common language. Smooth read. (Rating system runs from 1 being least technical to 10 being most technical.) A note for American readers: all of the measurements used in the book are given in the metric system.
Reading Relics: The use of X-ray imaging and other strong scanners have allowed paleontologists to examine fossils in a non-invasive way without damaging the specimens. This is especially helpful with crushed or extremely fragile pieces. Several of the specimens described in Locked in Time were able to be studied because of these scanners.
Fun Fact: A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope.
Summary: Locked in Time takes the reader on a journey through a gallery of 50 fossil specimens to show us how these creatures fought, fed, reproduced, and lived everyday life. This book focuses on fossils of all types – from insects in amber, vertebrate animals locked in battle, and even trace fossils of bodily functions. Just a few examples are fighting mammoths, evidence of cancer in a hadrosaur jaw, and a babysitting Psittacosaurus. There are trace fossils hypothesized to be pee spots, fossilized farts, and fish with their last meal still in their stomachs! The wide variety of fauna represented is amazing, and to think this only represents a fraction of the world before us!
Locked in Time is categorized by the behavior the fossils demonstrate; there are five main categories with ten fossil “articles” in each. This organization makes the book easy to pick up and put down without losing the flow of the story-not that you’d want to stop reading it in the first place. These articles would make good bedtime stories for young paleo-enthusiasts (with mom or dad to read) or a quick read for your lunch break at work. As a reader, you can hear Lomax’s passion for paleontology and the creatures he studies, which makes reading this book even more engaging.
At the end of each article, a full-page illustration puts flesh to bone, giving life to the fossil being described. This makes the picture even clearer for each of these prehistoric stories. I enjoyed seeing these reconstructions because they incorporated the elements of the ecosystem the fossil was from but also made sure to include as many accurate details as possible, rather than pure speculation.
Published works/projects: Lomax is a well-known science communicator in the UK. He has a TED talk, co-hosts a podcast called On the FOSSIL Record, and is a host on the TV show Dinosaur Britain. If you are interested in these other projects, follow the link to Lomax’s website: https://www.deanrlomax.co.uk/