In this Book

Princeton University Press
summary

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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. CONTENTS
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. pp. ix-xiv
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  1. Geological Time Scale
  2. pp. xv-xvi
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xvii-xx
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xxi-xl
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  1. INTRODUCTION: Marsh Monsters of Big Bone Lick
  2. pp. 1-31
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  1. CHAPTER 1: The Northeast: Giants, Great Bears, and Grandfather of the Buffalo
  2. pp. 32-72
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  1. CHAPTER 2: New Spain: Bones of Fear and Birds of Terror
  2. pp. 73-105
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  1. CHAPTER 3: The Southwest: Fossil Fetishes and Monster Slayers
  2. pp. 106-167
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  1. CHAPTER 4: The Prairies: Fossil Medicine and Spirit Animals
  2. pp. 168-219
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  1. CHAPTER 5: The High Plains: Thunder Birds, Water Monsters, and Buffalo-Calling Stones
  2. pp. 220-295
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  1. Conclusion: Common Ground
  2. pp. 296-331
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  1. APPENDIX: Fossil Frauds and Specious Legends
  2. pp. 332-346
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 347-406
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 407-428
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 429-448
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400849314
Print ISBN
9780691130491
MARC Record
OCLC
880236638
Pages
488
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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