Huge mastodons and mammoths roamed through southern Michigan only 13,000 years ago. Whales, walruses, and giant rodents swam in the deep lakes, and shaggy musk oxen grazed in the woodlands. Their extinction is still not entirely explained, although it coincides with the earliest appearance of foraging humans and major climatic shifts in the Americas.
Ancient Life of the Great Lakes Basin: Precambrian to Pleistocene
By J. Alan Holman, PhD
University of Michigan Press, 1995
Paperback, 295 pages
Holman’s book begins with a brief review of biological and geological principles, then offers a framework for the study of the fossils found in the Great Lakes region. (Click on the book image to see details.)
Among the most interesting illustrations in the book are Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen’s conceptions of what the fossilized creatures may have looked like when they lived. Van Frankenhuyzen’s color illustrations depict spectacular scenes of ancient life in the Great Lakes area. Detailed illustrations help identify many of the fossilized organisms that can be found today. Methods of collection, preservation, and maintenance of fossils are also presented.
Ancient Life is written for the layperson as well as the professional with biological or geological interest in the Great Lakes region.
Holman, who died in 2006, was curator of vertebrate paleontology in the Michigan State University Museum, and professor of geological sciences at MSU. He is the author of In Quest of Great Lakes Ice Age Vertebrates (MSU Press, 2011), which details Ice Age fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals in the states and provinces surrounding the Great Lakes.
If you find this history fascinating, you might also enjoy American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene, by Gary Haynes (Springer, 2009).