Researchers have used fossils to understand much about the prehistoric world, but this work shows how a passionate woman with a curious mind studies them to understand how early peoples devised their myths and legends.
Mayor’s family heritage includes both a knack for storytelling and an interest in the natural world. She developed a love for the myths and legends of Greece and Rome, and her curiosity about the origins of the legendary part-lion, part-eagle griffin led her to seek answers. “[W]hat creature with four legs and a beak like a bird could have been so real to Greeks thousands of years ago?” Her search for fossils that could have inspired such an image led her to sites throughout Greece, ancient texts and even CIA maps of Central Asia. By following a series of clues, Mayor was able to connect the griffin image to fossil remnants of Protoceratops, making the case that ancient civilizations based their stories and legends on what they observed in the natural world. Supporting his text with Muller’s illustrations and copious photographs, Aronson reveals Mayor’s story as she searches for answers, demonstrating how one woman’s curiosity and determination provided a new view of the origins of some of our oldest stories. The excellent list of suggestions for further reading will encourage readers to dig deeper on their own.
Readers interested in mythology and paleontology will be intrigued. (glossary/index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)