In 1849, a crew building a railroad through Charlotte, Vermont, dug up strange and beautiful bones in a farmer’s field. A local naturalist asked Louis Agassiz to help identify them, and the famous scientist concluded that the bones belonged to a beluga whale. But how could a whale’s skeleton have been buried so far from the ocean? The answer—that Lake Champlain had once been an arm of the sea—encouraged radical new thinking about geological time scales and animal evolution.
Charlotte’s Bones is a haunting, science-based reconstruction of how Charlotte died 11,000 years ago in a tidal marsh, how the marsh became a field, how Charlotte found a second life as the Vermont state fossil, and what messages her bones whisper to us now about the fragility of life and our changing Earth.