Prehistoric animals often feel only slightly more real than mythical beasts. Known only from bones darkened by time and flattened to rocks, it’s hard to imagine them as living animals. How did the animal move? How it behaved? What color was it?
During the last decade or two, more and more wonderfully preserved fossils of dinosaurs have been found. Researchers have even learned to look for traces of their coloration in life. But still, the most vivid window to life in the past is that presented by the megafauna of steppe grasslands, which was skillfully immortalized by our own ancestors as cave paintings. (Painting from Chauvet Cave, France, photographed by Thomas T.)