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MEMORIES OF MILLENNIUMS PAST WRITTEN IN STONE LOST WORLDS: ALABAMA'S ANCIENT LIFE AND LANDSCAPES

By THOMAS SPENCER 
Birmingham News 
staff writer

December 27, 2000 

Trace the slanting rock layers of the Elton B. Stephens Expressway cutthrough skyward, far into the distant past, and imagine the mountain that might have stood here 300 million years ago, part of a chain of mountains as tall as the Alps.
Today's downtown skyscrapers sit on rock layers that would have been buried two miles beneath that mountain's peak.
Picture ocean waves crashing against a shoreline forested by tropical jungle near present-day Prattville 80 million years ago. In the sky above, giant flying reptiles, pterosaurs, glide over the seas that covered today's cotton fields and Capitol dome.
Look at the black coal dug from West Alabama mines and see the remains of a prehistoric tropical swamp, crawling with huge amphibians, giant cockroaches and dragonflies with 3-foot wingspans.
A new book, Lost Worlds in…