Fossil Legends of the First Americans

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9780691130491: Fossil Legends of the First Americans

The burnt-red badlands of Montana's Hell Creek are a vast graveyard of the Cretaceous dinosaurs that lived 68 million years ago. Those hills were, much later, also home to the Sioux, the Crows, and the Blackfeet, the first people to encounter the dinosaur fossils exposed by the elements. What did Native Americans make of these stone skeletons, and how did they explain the teeth and claws of gargantuan animals no one had seen alive? Did they speculate about their deaths? Did they collect fossils?


Beginning in the East, with its Ice Age monsters, and ending in the West, where dinosaurs lived and died, this richly illustrated and elegantly written book examines the discoveries of enormous bones and uses of fossils for medicine, hunting magic, and spells. Well before Columbus, Native Americans observed the mysterious petrified remains of extinct creatures and sought to understand their transformation to stone. In perceptive creation stories, they visualized the remains of extinct mammoths, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine creatures as Monster Bears, Giant Lizards, Thunder Birds, and Water Monsters. Their insights, some so sophisticated that they anticipate modern scientific theories, were passed down in oral histories over many centuries.


Drawing on historical sources, archaeology, traditional accounts, and extensive personal interviews, Adrienne Mayor takes us from Aztec and Inca fossil tales to the traditions of the Iroquois, Navajos, Apaches, Cheyennes, and Pawnees. Fossil Legends of the First Americans represents a major step forward in our understanding of how humans made sense of fossils before evolutionary theory developed.

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"Engaging, enlightening, and most of all, educationally entertaining. We have precious few examples of Native American interpretation of prehistoric events as they have been passed down through the generations, and in this book Adrienne Mayor unveils several. In so doing, she opens up a new world."--Jack Horner, coauthor of Digging Dinosaurs, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University

"Adrienne Mayor has absolutely done it again. In Fossil Legends of the First Americans she has taken up exactly where she left off last time with The First Fossil Hunters. She has done a superb job of researching her topic and making it interesting. Just a wonderful job all around."--Peter Dodson, author of The Horned Dinosaurs

"Adrienne Mayor is a wonderfully independent-minded scholar and a fine writer who works the edge lines between disciplines, where others don't go. She's a brilliant researcher but never forgets about character and story. Give her a fossil or a legend, and she'll supply flesh, blood, narrative, cultural context, and a smile. In this book she also delivers an important sense of justice."--David Quammen, author of Monster of God and Song of the Dodo

"A brilliant and well-researched book that creates a new field of inquiry. Mayor opens a wide landscape in which native knowledge and use of fossils becomes an integral part of the academic and popular interest. Undoubtedly a landmark in American thought."--Vine Deloria, Jr., author of Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths, former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians

"This is a surprising, convincing, and most interesting book, which I read with pleasure. It is an intelligent book, one that continues to map out a new field of scholarship of which Mayor is the prime exponent. It is a novel book, because of its unique content and its unusual and yet valuable insight that all 'scientific' knowledge does not and need not follow the modern Western tradition."--Pat Shipman, author of The Wisdom of Bones and The Evolution of Racism

About the Author:

Adrienne Mayor, an independent scholar of natural history folklore and the early history of science, is the author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times (Princeton) and Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs (Overlook).

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The burnt-red badlands of Montana s Hell Creek are a vast graveyard of the Cretaceous dinosaurs that lived 68 million years ago. Those hills were, much later, also home to the Sioux, the Crows, and the Blackfeet, the first people to encounter the dinosaur fossils exposed by the elements. What did Native Americans make of these stone skeletons, and how did they explain the teeth and claws of gargantuan animals no one had seen alive? Did they speculate about their deaths? Did they collect fossils? Beginning in the East, with its Ice Age monsters, and ending in the West, where dinosaurs lived and died, this richly illustrated and elegantly written book examines the discoveries of enormous bones and uses of fossils for medicine, hunting magic, and spells. Well before Columbus, Native Americans observed the mysterious petrified remains of extinct creatures and sought to understand their transformation to stone. In perceptive creation stories, they visualized the remains of extinct mammoths, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine creatures as Monster Bears, Giant Lizards, Thunder Birds, and Water Monsters. Their insights, some so sophisticated that they anticipate modern scientific theories, were passed down in oral histories over many centuries. Drawing on historical sources, archaeology, traditional accounts, and extensive personal interviews, Adrienne Mayor takes us from Aztec and Inca fossil tales to the traditions of the Iroquois, Navajos, Apaches, Cheyennes, and Pawnees. Fossil Legends of the First Americans represents a major step forward in our understanding of how humans made sense of fossils before evolutionary theory developed. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780691130491

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The burnt-red badlands of Montana s Hell Creek are a vast graveyard of the Cretaceous dinosaurs that lived 68 million years ago. Those hills were, much later, also home to the Sioux, the Crows, and the Blackfeet, the first people to encounter the dinosaur fossils exposed by the elements. What did Native Americans make of these stone skeletons, and how did they explain the teeth and claws of gargantuan animals no one had seen alive? Did they speculate about their deaths? Did they collect fossils? Beginning in the East, with its Ice Age monsters, and ending in the West, where dinosaurs lived and died, this richly illustrated and elegantly written book examines the discoveries of enormous bones and uses of fossils for medicine, hunting magic, and spells. Well before Columbus, Native Americans observed the mysterious petrified remains of extinct creatures and sought to understand their transformation to stone. In perceptive creation stories, they visualized the remains of extinct mammoths, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine creatures as Monster Bears, Giant Lizards, Thunder Birds, and Water Monsters. Their insights, some so sophisticated that they anticipate modern scientific theories, were passed down in oral histories over many centuries. Drawing on historical sources, archaeology, traditional accounts, and extensive personal interviews, Adrienne Mayor takes us from Aztec and Inca fossil tales to the traditions of the Iroquois, Navajos, Apaches, Cheyennes, and Pawnees. Fossil Legends of the First Americans represents a major step forward in our understanding of how humans made sense of fossils before evolutionary theory developed. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780691130491

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Book Description Princeton University Press, 2007. Book Condition: New. Beginning in the East, with its Ice Age monsters, and ending in the West, where dinosaurs lived and died, this book examines the discoveries of enormous bones and uses of fossils for medicine, hunting magic, and spells. It represents a major step forward in our understanding of how humans made sense of fossils before evolutionary theory developed. Num Pages: 488 pages, 98 halftones. 2 line illus. 1 table. 6 maps. BIC Classification: 1KB; PDZ; RBX. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 235 x 158 x 29. Weight in Grams: 810. . 2007. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780691130491

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Book Description Princeton University Press. Book Condition: New. Beginning in the East, with its Ice Age monsters, and ending in the West, where dinosaurs lived and died, this book examines the discoveries of enormous bones and uses of fossils for medicine, hunting magic, and spells. It represents a major step forward in our understanding of how humans made sense of fossils before evolutionary theory developed. Num Pages: 488 pages, 98 halftones. 2 line illus. 1 table. 6 maps. BIC Classification: 1KB; PDZ; RBX. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 235 x 158 x 29. Weight in Grams: 810. . 2007. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780691130491

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