Prehistoric life is the archive of evolution preserved in the fossil record. This book focuses on the meaning and significance of that archive and is designed for introductory college science students, including non-science majors, enrolled in survey courses emphasizing paleontology, geology and biology. From the origins of animals to the evolution of rap music, from ancient mass extinctions to the current biodiversity crisis, and from the Snowball Earth to present day climate change this book covers it, with an eye towards showing how past life on Earth puts the modern world into its proper context. The history of life and the patterns and processes of evolution are especially emphasized, as are the interconnections between our planet, its climate system, and its varied life forms. The book does not just describe the history of life, but uses actual examples from life's history to illustrate important concepts and theories.