Paleontology: Fossil Finder

Complex life emerged with a bang 540 million years ago. Andrew Knoll wants to know why

As a high school student, Andy Knoll was an avid fossil collector, but it never occurred to him that he would someday become a paleontologist. Where he came from, a small town near Reading, Pa., bright teenagers aspired to careers in medicine, law and, in Knoll's case, engineering. But one day while sitting in his dorm room at Lehigh University, Knoll realized that he hated engineering and loved biology and geology. That's when it hit him: as a paleontologist he could indulge his passion for both.

That revelation marked the beginning of Knoll's lifelong fascination with one of the most mysterious...

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