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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How a kid archoleogist found a fossil estimated to be two million years old

Berger, Lee R.; Aronson, Marc (2012)  The Skull in the Rock:  How a scientist, a boy, and Google Earth opened a new window on human origins.  Washington D. C.: National Geographic.

So this kid, Matthew Berger, is out hunting fossils with his dad one day in 2008 and he sees this tiny fossil of a human clavicle sticking out of a rock and he calls to his paleontologist dad and finds out he has not only found a fossil that might be 2 million years old, but he has also made a really important discovery for that field of study. 

This book looks at three things:  first, the life's story of that kid's father, Lee, and how his childhood interest in saving the gopher tortoise led to an interest in science, which led to a lifelong interest in fossil hunting.  The second part of the book is the story of this one particular expedition and what tools and evidence led Lee and his son Matthew to be in the right place to find the human skull that Mathew's find led to.  The third part de3als with what scientists have been able to learn from Lee and Matthew's find.  What is excellent about this book for young readers is that the connection to kids draws them in and before they know it, they are reading about how science gets done. 

The pictures, as in all National Geographic books, are illustrative, intriguing and utterly beautiful.  They get you inside of the hole in the rock where Lee found the rest of Matthew's ancient skeleton. They let you see what it was in the Google Earth pictures that led Lee back to that site. 

My fourth grade daughter is not exactly a science nut, but she found the book interesting and intriguing (I think the pictures helped draw her in).   I would say for third through middle school, this is a good one (though the picture book format may be off-putting to older readers.

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