For four decades I have been traveling in my imagination to and from the near-time wilderness to the prehistoric entire Earth still inhabited by ground sloths, mammoths, and other extinct beasts. Some call it the late Quaternary, the youngest of a series of glacial cycles that began 1.8 (others would say 2.3) million years ago and has yet to end.

Many fine fossil localities suitable for sampling near time or at least capturing its flavor lie within a day's drive of Tucson. Besides ranchers, land managers, and backpackers with a keen eye for the environment, my best scouts for important habitats or new fossil localities, including fossil packrat middens, have been students and colleagues conducting research of their own. They have guided me to informative fossil deposits and generously shared their insights, often at lunch on the patio of the Desert Laboratory of the University of Arizona or at fiery "potluck seminars," informal gatherings once held by dedicated students and footloose faculty from various corners of the university known as the Menudo Society. The seminars originated at the hand of former University of Arizona Professor Alan Solomon, his students, and his mentor, the late ecologist Murray Buell of Rutgers University.

For field, lab, editorial, and interpretive insights I thank a number of former students, colleagues, and visitors to the Desert Laboratory. In addition to others mentioned in the text, I thank David P. Adam; Larry Agen-broad; Wanda Agenbroad; Martha Ames; Robyn Andersen; Connie Barlow; Larry Belli; Cynthia Bennett; Peter Bennett; Julio Betancourt; George

Billingsly; Russ Boulding; Jan Bowers; Diane Boyer; Georgie Boyer; the late Jim Boyer; Bob Brumbaugh; Tony Burgess; Dave and Lida Pigott Burney; Steve Carothers; Ken Cole; Nick Czaplewski; Owen K. Davis; Russell Davis; Jared Diamond; Bill Dickinson; Steve Emslie; the late Robert Euler; George Ferguson; Stuart Fiedel; Claire Flemming; Karl Flessa; George C. Frison; Richard Gillespie; Alan Gottesfeld; Russ Graham; Harry W. Greene; Dale Guthrie; Daniel A. Guthrie; C. Vance Haynes; Gary Haynes; William B. Heed; Donna Howell; Jeff Ingram; Bonnie Fine Jacobs; Lewis Jacobs; Helen James; Roy Johnson; Charles E. Kay; Gerald Kelso; Lloyd F. Kiff; the late Fran Bartos King; Jim King; Stan Kryza-nowski; Steve Kuhn; Donna LaRocca; Cynthia Lindquist; Everett Lindsay; Ernest Lundelius; Ross MacPhee; Vera Markgraf; Andrea Martin; Andrew G. Martin; Marianne W. Martin; Neil M. Martin; Thomas C. Martin; Edgar J. McCullough; H. G. McDonald; Emily Mead; Jim I. Mead; Peter J. Mehringer; Eric Mellink; Kathy (Kik) Moore; Mary Ellen Morbeck; James E. Mosimann; Gary P. Nabhan; Phil R. Ogden; John Olsen; Storrs Olson; Mary Kay O'Rourke; the late Wes Peirce; Arthur M. Phillips III; Barbara Phillips; Greg Pregill; Vernon Proctor; Ron Pulliam; Brian Robbins; Eleanora (Norrie) Robbins; Guy Robinson; the late Ike Russell; Jean Russell; Jeff Saunders; Louis Scott; Pat Shipman; Jennifer Shopland; David W. Steadman; Mary Stiner; Todd Surovell; Chris Szuter; Jean Turner; Ray Turner; Sandra Turner; Thomas Van Devender; Nicole Waguespack; Alan Walker; Jim Walters; Peter Warren; Robert Webb; and David Western.

I am deeply grateful to Doris Kretschmer, executive editor at the University of California Press, and to Kate Warne and my peerless developmental editor, Lynn Stewart Golbetz. Without their efforts, this book might never have seen the light of day.

Attitudes toward, interest in, and fascination with nature are shaped long before adulthood. I was very fortunate to be born to farm-raised, nature-loving, college-educated parents. As a veterinarian my Dad specialized in treating dairy cattle for bovine mastitis. Various uncles and aunts farmed, and one operated a small slaughterhouse. As a teenager during World War II, I worked summers for my uncle Wayne, the last of seven generations of the Schultz family to own "Scholtop" farm in upper Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Eastern Pennsylvania provided plenty of cover for small game. We lived at the edge of the borough of West Chester. After school I hiked across lots, fields, and woods in search of water birds on the West Chester Reservoir and along Brandywine Creek, habitats that would have attracted


proboscideans, had there been any. During hunting season with relatives I shot pheasants and rabbits, and in winter we trapped a few muskrats. With members of the West Chester Bird Club I visited Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania; Cape May, New Jersey; and Bulls Island, outside Charleston, South Carolina, habitats magnetically attractive in season to birds and thus to bird-watchers.

Last and not least are unforgettable acts of kindness that after five decades remain fresh in my mind. Bill Dilger and Bob Dickerman loaded me, paralyzed, on a flight from Ithaca to Cornell's Medical Center in Manhattan. Experienced with and sensitive to such matters from his own traumatic life, David Kirk brought my distraught partner in those days into the comfort of his family circle. She and her parents and mine, and my cousin Alma, kept my spirits up through a neurological impairment represented by specialists as potentially terminal. After remission two months later, the outcome was a chronic if minor handicap, one that opened a door for explorations of near time.

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