Prehistoric mammals are always amazing to me, and I think the reason why is because we never learned about them in school. The only prehistoric animals I remember ever studying—however briefly—were dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers, and perhaps mammoths. Honestly, I think much of this “studying” was autodidactic from my own library or the Science Center and had nothing to do with school anyway, but it still never really included many mammals.
So when I learned about the giant tree sloth and the enormous rhinoceros who used to inhabit the earth, you can bet I was both stunned and riveted. If you want to check out a really cool guide to such creatures and dozens of others, check out National Geographic Prehistoric Mammals. This full-color guide presents an exciting peek into the world as it was once known—by humanoids and non-humanoid creatures!
You’ll find stunning renditions of what we assume creatures looked like according to their fossils and other clues, but you’ll also get to see actual bones and complete skeletons, as well as photos of these creatures’ descendants and relatives. This is particularly interesting to children as it provides a connection between this ancient world and their own.
Other amazing sections in the book include the evolutionary family tree of humans—which my daughter was fascinated by—and a few pages about some reptiles who were mammal-like, and became the direct ancestors of some of the mammals that we know today. How did these creatures cross classes? Of the mammals that exist today, which once had reptilian DNA? And besides the mammoth, what other elephant-like beasts roamed the earth—and which was the biggest? You’ll have to check out this book to find out!
In addition to individual profile pages of dozens of interesting creatures, you will find full two-page spreads of full color illustrations of how these creatures might have interacted with one another. For example, one spread depicts a pig-like animal growling ferociously at a pair of fox-like dogs; Another shows Macrauchenia (which look like horses or camels with elephant seal-like noses) fleeing from Smilodon (tiger-like predators). These are my daughter’s favorite pages of the book overall.
If you have animal, dinosaur, or history lovers in the house, this book is a must-have for your library. If not for reports and research, you’ll definitely return to it just for the fun of it over and over again.