An enthralling step-by-step account of Charles Willson Peale's 1801 excavation of two near-complete mastodon skeletons. Giblin (When Plague Strikes, 1995, etc.) introduces Peale and his work, with atmospheric details of the young US and the new field of paleontology. Through the immediacy of a ""you are there"" narrative, readers observe the meticulousness found on a dig, share the exhilaration of each triumph, and cringe with every disappointment. Peale's unearthing and assembling of the bones greatly affected the field of paleontology; nearly half a century before the discovery of dinosaurs, he helped prove the existence of prehistoric life, raised the mystery of extinction, and laid the foundation for the work of later scientists. This well-documented book is packed full of information about a man, his work, and an exciting, expanding period in natural history.