Fossils: The Key to the Past is an accessible introduction to the study and meaning of fossils. It provides a comprehensive guide to all aspects of fossils and their use in reconstructing the history of life on Earth. This stunning new edition has been completely redesigned, updated and extended, reflecting advances in our understanding of the fossil record and the significance of new fossil finds. Palaeontologist Richard Fortey explains in easy-to-follow language what fossils are, how they form and how to identify them, and how they help us to understand Earth's geological past and the emergence of life. Drawing on all the latest research, including recent developments in molecular palaeontology, he discusses evolution and extinction, the economic uses of fossils, such as oil and coal, as well as offering practical advice for making a fossil collection. Extensively illustrated in full colour throughout, with many new photographs from the collections at the Natural History Museum, Fossils: The Key to the Past will appeal to all those with an interest in the very history of life.