This book first appeared in German under the title Versteinerte Urkunden - Die Paliiontologie als Wissenschaft vom Leben in der Vorzeit in Springer-Verlag's series, Verstiindliche Wissenschaft, in 1963. The text has been slightly expanded and brought up to date for the English edition. Prof. D. E. Dacque's Das Fossile Lebewesen - Eine Einfuhrung in die Versteinerungskunde, which was published in the same s.eries in 1928, had been out of print for years. Moreover, there have been important advances in paleontology and related sciences in the last several decades; thus, a new popular presentation of this fascinating field of knowledge seemed necessary. This volume is not a systematic, chronologically arranged survey of paleontological records; it is, rather, an attempt to give the general reader some idea of the importance, the working methods and the aims, not to mention the limitations, of paleontological research. If I succeed in making it clear to the layman that paleontology is no dry museum science, I shall have achieved what I set out to do. For paleontology, as will be shown in this book, not only plays a very important role in practical geology, through micropaleontology and palynology, but it is also of even more vital importance to the life sciences in helping to settle fundamental questions concerning evo lution."