What if U.S.
history began in 1963, and everything that happened before that year was shrouded in mystery? There would be plenty of events to study, but we wouldn't have a complete picture of the country's past.
This is the analogy that paleomicrobiologist J.
William Schopf uses to describe the long-missing 85 percent of earth's early fossil record (the puzzle of the missing fossils was known as Darwin's Dilemma).
Not until the 1960s did paleobiologists using pickaxes and microscopes find evidence that life began much earlier than previously theorized and that microorganisms were the planet's only inhabitants for most of its existence.
And Schopf himself discovered the oldest Precambrian fossils known to science in 1993.
Why did it take so long to find these critters? Though the puzzle of the "missing" early fossil record lived on for more than a hundred years, its solution is now so obvious as to be mundane.
For more information about the title Cradle of Life: The Discovery of Earth's Earliest Fossils, read the full description at Amazon.com, or see the following related books:
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