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The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before. In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatt The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before. In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages. Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.” Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China. An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.


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The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before. In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatt The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before. In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages. Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.” Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China. An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.

30 review for The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    I love dinosaurs. I have an early memory of being at nursery school and always running straight for the plastic dinosaurs at playtime. I was a dinosaur hog. The Land Before Time was one of my favourite movies. I watched Jurassic Park and had a recurring nightmare about a T.Rex trying to attack our house. They are so fascinating. Unbelievably huge reptiles that roamed the entire planet. Not only that, but it's so strange that we regard them as something of a failed species. Dinosaurs were around f I love dinosaurs. I have an early memory of being at nursery school and always running straight for the plastic dinosaurs at playtime. I was a dinosaur hog. The Land Before Time was one of my favourite movies. I watched Jurassic Park and had a recurring nightmare about a T.Rex trying to attack our house. They are so fascinating. Unbelievably huge reptiles that roamed the entire planet. Not only that, but it's so strange that we regard them as something of a failed species. Dinosaurs were around for 150 million years. The homo genus is only about 2.5 million years old, and homo sapiens have been around for a measly 300,000 years. Perhaps less. You think we have another 150 million years in us? So, yeah, I love dinosaurs. Problem is, I just couldn't stand Brusatte's writing. He obviously knows his stuff about dinosaurs, but I thought he made the potentially fascinating information very dry. And that's just when he's sticking to the subject. It gets far worse when he goes on long tangents about himself, name-dropping the people he's met and worked with. Unless it's a female paleontologist, in which case: who? You mean whatsisname's wife? I usually like it when non-fiction writers put a little something of themselves into their writing. It adds some personality and pulls you along for the journey, such as in Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. But it helps if the writer isn't, um, annoying. Brusatte just comes across as a self-important nerd. There's too much about him, and it isn't enjoyable to read. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Image from the Smithsonian Hope A Tyrannosaurus Rex is a thing with feathers. ----- Emily Dickinson Steve Brusatte Wait, what? You’re kidding, right? Say it ain’t so. Well, there is some disagreement about this among paleontologists, but, according to Steve Brusatte, while they may not have matched up to Marc Bolan in a boa, and the feathers in question were maybe more like porcupine quills than the fluffy sort of plumage one might find on, say, an ostrich, those things poking out of t Image from the Smithsonian Hope A Tyrannosaurus Rex is a thing with feathers. ----- Emily Dickinson Steve Brusatte Wait, what? You’re kidding, right? Say it ain’t so. Well, there is some disagreement about this among paleontologists, but, according to Steve Brusatte, while they may not have matched up to Marc Bolan in a boa, and the feathers in question were maybe more like porcupine quills than the fluffy sort of plumage one might find on, say, an ostrich, those things poking out of the T. rex’s body were indeed feathers. And if you think the notion of a 40-foot, seven-ton eating machine, with ginormous, dagger-like, railroad-spike-size teeth bearing down on you, is scary, consider this. They travelled in packs. Sweet dreams! I have to confess that after reading this chapter, I did indeed have at least one dream that night that included multiple representatives of the T. Rex family. Not a wonderful image to induce one back to the land of Nod, after having bolted suddenly upright from REM sleep in fight-or-FLIGHT mode. Hello, lunch - Image from The Real T-Rex BBC special – this one from the Mirror But I promise, not all the revelations in The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will make you reach for some extra alcoholic or pharmaceutical sleep inducement. What we know about dinosaurs has continued to evolve, at an accelerating rate. Some revelations in the book are surprising and delightful, like the fact that new dinosaur species are being discovered at the rate of about one a week, and that this has been going on a while. There is a lot of catching up to be done since we mastered the basic few, Triceratops, T-Rex, Brontosaurus, Archaeopteryx, Stegasaurus, Dimetrodon, and the usual gang of idiots. Much bigger gang to keep track of these days. [I strongly urge you to check out Brusatte’s U of Edinburgh lecture, linked in EXTRA STUFF, for some very decisively feathered other members of the T. rex family. Fluffy indeed!] Steve Brusatte - looking for Triassic vertebrate footprints in a quarry in Poland – image from palaeocast.com (Sorry, dear. I could have sworn I dropped the engagement ring right here!) Dinosaurs had a pretty long reign as kings/queens of the hill, but they had to begin sometime. Once upon a time all the land was one, linked from north to south, called Pangea. Monster monsoons raked much of the Earth, blistering heat, deserts, jungles, except of course at the poles, which were relatively balmy. This time, from about 300 to about 250 million years ago (mya) is called The Permian Period. Then, boys and girls, the earth split a seam. All that hot material that is constantly coursing through the earth found a way out and spewed forth. Not a good time to be an earthling. It is referred to as The Permian Extinction. 90% of all life was wiped out, by lava flows, fire, global warming, airborne particles blocking the sun, and thus a dramatic, if temporary end to photosynthesis, which killed off most plant life. And the ensuing acidification of water did seriously unpleasant things to aqueous life. But, after things settled down again, which took a while, a new class of critters came to dominate, dinosaurs. Yay! From Pangea to now – image from LiveScience.com The Permian period was followed by the Triassic, from 250 to 200 mya, fifty million years of nature gone wild (I have that videotape in the attic, I think). Over the course of the Triassic, things on the land started to look like the world we know today. But the continents would have to drift for many millions of years yet before they would resemble our current landmass configuration. The first true dinos showed up around 230 to 240 mya. But they did not have the planet to themselves. There were reptiles, fish, birds, insects, even mammals, small ones, around at the time. Metoposaurus, Kermit’s g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandma, was an amphibian the size of a Buick, with a coffee-table-sized head, and, unlike those little critters you had to work with in bio lab, these pups had hundreds of very sharp teeth. It hung out by water’s edge to capture anything straying too close. Mostly fish, but watch your ankles. There is interesting material in here about what came before the dinosaurs, (dinosauromorphs, yes, really) and where the line is drawn (arbitrarily) between dino and pre-dino. You, here, you, over there. Like Middle East borders. Brusatte walks us through the timeline of the dinos, from conditions being established at the end of the Permian, their arrival in the Triassic, to their sudden farewell at the end of the Cretaceous. Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous. Go ahead, repeat that a few times. It’s the sequence of periods Brusatte covers here. The first three come in at around 50 million years each, with the Cretaceous hanging on for about 80. The last three, taken together, comprise what is known as the Mesozoic Era, aka The Age of the Dinosaurs. (Which makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t it be The Era of the Dinosaurs? Or the Mesozoic Age? It’s so confusing.) He shows what changed geologically, and how the changes allowed this or that lifeform to arise. (often by wiping out the competition). He also takes us along with him to dig sites around the planet, Scotland, Portugal, Poland, The American Southwest, South America, China, and more, and introduces us to some of the foremost scientists in the field. The characters in Brusatte’s tale are not all of the ancient sort. He populates each chapter with modern specimens notable for their diversity and sometimes colorful plumage. While they may all be brilliant scientists, many could easily be classified as Anates Impar. It would not be a huge stretch to imagine them populating a nerdish Cantina scene. Here are Brusatte’s description of three of them. There are many more. You can spot Thomas Carr, now a professor at Wisconsin’s Carthage College, from a mile away. He has the fashion sense of a 1970s preacher and some of the mannerisms of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Thomas always wears black velvet suits, usually with a black or dark red shirt underneath. He has long bushy sideburns and a mop of light hair. A silver skull ring adorns his hand. He’s easily consumed by things and has a long-running obsession with absinthe and the Doors. That and tyrannosaurs. Thomas Carr - image from his Twitter page Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felso-Szilvas…was literally an aristocrat who dug up dinosaur bones. He seems like the invention of a mad novelist, a character so outlandish, so ridiculous, that he must be a trick of fiction. But he was very real—a flamboyant dandy and a tragic genius, whose exploits hunting dinosaurs in Transylvania were brief respites from the insanity of the rest of his life…[he had] expertise in espionage, linguistics, cultural anthropology, paleontology, motorbiking, [geology, and god knows what else]. The Baron - image from Albanianphotograpy.com Jingmai [O’Connor] calls herself a Paleontologista—fitting given her fashionista style of leopard-print Lycra, piercings, and tattoos, all of which are at home in the club but stand out (in a good way) among the plaid-and-beard crowd that dominates academia…she’s also the world’s number-one expert on those first birds that broke the bounds of Earth to fly above their dinosaur ancestors. Jingmai O’Connor - image from her Twitter pageBrusatte also shamelessly namedrops every A-list paleontologist he has encountered. Of course, it sounds like those encounters were substantial, so I guess it’s ok, but… I was reminded a bit of Bill Clinton’s memoir, in which it seemed that every person he mentioned had either changed his life or was a close personal friend. In a way, the book constitutes a this-is-your-life look at Brusatte’s paleontology career (boy meets bone?), with appearances by many of the people he had learned from or worked with. (they are legion) In addition to the studies mentioned in the book, he is the author of a widely taught textbook, Dinosaur Paleobiology. He is the paleo expert in residence on Walking with Dinosaurs (so much better than the sequel, Fleeing from Dinosaurs) on the BBC. One of the things that has allowed modern paleontologists to make and continue to make ground-breaking discoveries about Earth’s former tenants is the major advance in technology at their disposal. It’s a lot easier, for example, to see inside a fossilized skull to measure the size and shape of internal cavities with the help of a CT scanner than it was before they were available. A new dinosaur, feathered, winged Zhenyuanlong from China - image from The Conversation You will learn some fascinating new information about dinos, some of it startling. This includes how sauropods managed those looooooong necks, why wild diversification happened when it did, why it took dinosaurs as long as it did to get large and take over. There is a fascinating bit on how some dinosaurs can pack an extra punch by getting air while they breathe in and out, surprising intel on how some of the critters you thought were dinosaurs aren’t, and directions on where you can look to see actual living dinosaurs today. He punctures some of the notions from the Jurassic Park movies. If trapped by a T-Rex, for instance, do not remain motionless. Rex has binocular vision and can see you perfectly well, whether you are sitting down in a port-o-san or hiding in or under a vehicle. Wave buh-bye. If you do not know what this is from you need to get out more Speaking of un-fond farewells, Brusatte take us up to and through the biggest bang of them all, on Earth anyway, 66 mya. His description of the horror that marked the end of the dinosaurs is graphic, and disturbing. It was the worst day in the history of our planet. A few hours of unimaginable violence that undid more than 150 million years of evolution and set life on a new course. T. rex was there to see it. Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Oh, shit Artwork by Donald E. Davis Brusatte has written an eminently readable pop-science history of the dinosaurs, with accessible info on geology, biology, and the work of paleontologists, who are laboring tirelessly (and maybe obsessively) to find out the answers to questions that are as old as humanity’s awareness of the erstwhile inhabitants of our planet. This is one of those books that should be in every household. You do not need to be a scientist to get a lot out of it. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, bubbling with the enthusiasm of its author, will be an enjoyable and enlightening read for homo sapiens of all ages from pre-teen through fossil. Learning more about Earth’s illustrious, impressive, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes adorable former tenants never gets old. Really, who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Review posted – April 13, 2018 Publication date – April 24, 2018 December 2018 - Dinosaurs may no longer rule the earth, but The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs rules the 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Science. Reached for comment, a spokesman for Mr. Brusatte offered the following response. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal and Twitter pages Episode 37 of Palaeocast features Steve talking about Therapods and Birds - December 1, 2014 – 44:00 A presentation by Brusatte, who is a wonderful speaker, on Tyrannosaur Discoveries, at the U of Edinburgh – Watch this, really. Great stuff. In the above, Brusatte talks about feathered dinos, among other things. Meet Yutyrannus huali, (artist’s interpretation) a feathered tyrannosaur from China (but you can call him Fluffy) – image from The Conversation A fun article from the BBC - Legendary dinosaurs that we all imagine completely wrong - By Josh Gabbatiss - 3/21/16 NY Times – April 4, 2018 - Brusatte is keeping busy, publishing, with his team, a new study about the presence of dinos in Scotland, specifically in the Isle of Skye. In Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, Signs of a Dinosaur Playground - by Nicholas St. Fleur This image of a sauropod print accompanied the above article – from the University of Edinburgh An interesting lecture (33 minutes) on how paleontologists research dinosaurian social behavior and what they have found - Social Behaviour in Dinosaurs - with David Hone Hone's delivery has a sing-song rhythm that can be a bit soporific, but the content is fascinating. Of particular interest is the basis for juvenile clustering. May, 2018 - Smithsonian Magazine - So much is going on in China, paleontologically, not all of it wonderful, as wonderful new resources are found and explored - The Great Chinese Dinosaur Boom - by Richard Conniff This cluster of dinosaur egg fossils, on display at the Tianyu Museum, dates back 70 million years to the late Cretaceous era - shot by Stefen Chow - text and image from above article It reminds me of that scene in the first Alien film when they discover the nesting site -----May 29, 2018 - Check out Ira Flatow's effervescent review in the NY Times - When the Dinosaurs Reigned -----June 2, 2018 - National Geographic - Wonderful, informative interview with Brusatte by Simon Worrall - Why Today is the Golden Age for Dinosaur Discoveries -----December 17, 2018 - Feathers and Fur Fly Over Pterosaur Fossil Finding - By Nicholas St. Fleur An artist’s rendering of a short-tailed pterosaur from above article - from Yuan Zhang/Nature Ecology & Evolution -----February 21, 2019 - NY Times - Tiny Tyrannosaur Hints at How T. Rex Became King - by Nicholas St. Fleur A new species of dinosaur, a tiny relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex, called Moros intrepidus, lived 96 million years ago and its fossils were found in central Utah. - Credit Jorge Gonzalez - image and text from above article ================================STUFFING If you are one of those for whom the reference did not bang a gong, Marc Bolan was the leader of a band named T.Rex. He was one of the progenitors of what was called Glam Rock. Anates Impar - really? You could not do a Google translate? It means Odd Ducks, ok. Sheesh. Really, don’t make me explain everything again, or I’ll have to take points off your final grade. And if you do not know what “the Cantina scene” is, look it up or don’t come back. Yes, now. Run! This flamboyantly feathered Rex image is from Deviant Art – Yeah, I doubt it looked like this too, but a fun image I wanted to share Full disclosure: - Ok, I stole the final line of the review from my illustrious book goddess. I only steal from the best. Thank you, dearest.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Another ambivalent three stars for a book that has two strands of highly varying success in my opinion. The good part of the book is the clear and vivid writing about dinosaurs. I particularly liked learning new things about dinosaur-like creatures that lived among them but happen to fall outside the classification, and reasons why dinosaurs could evolve to be absolutely gigantic (those big sauropods) or fly. I liked reading about the nomenclature of new and unusual finds (it's not all Latin anym Another ambivalent three stars for a book that has two strands of highly varying success in my opinion. The good part of the book is the clear and vivid writing about dinosaurs. I particularly liked learning new things about dinosaur-like creatures that lived among them but happen to fall outside the classification, and reasons why dinosaurs could evolve to be absolutely gigantic (those big sauropods) or fly. I liked reading about the nomenclature of new and unusual finds (it's not all Latin anymore). The section on the immediate aftermath of the asteroid strike is gripping and horrifying. ("But what fell from the sky was not water. It was beads of glass and chunks of rock, each one scalding hot.") The bad part is the writing about the author's personal experiences as he grew from an annoying, precocious teen (which he freely admits he was) into a working paleontologist. Frankly he comes off as more than a little self-satisfied--a sighting of the Jerkus brillianticus, if you will. His mentors and collaborators are uniformly amazing and brilliant and are described in a way that makes nearly all of them sound dull and interchangeable, an endless parade of brilliant bearded dudes drinking beer in exotic locales that are mainly described in terms of their nattering locals and unpleasant weather. (If you think I've used the word "brilliant" a lot in this paragraph, you won't believe this book!) Though he names several women paleontologists in these pages, he rarely seems to work with any of them, and notes with apparent enjoyment crass jokes at bars and commentary about their physiques from a speaker at an international conference. The personal recollections strike a disagreeable note that undercuts one of the goals of the book, which is to show how cool it would be to be a paleontologist. Bottom line: Read this, while holding your nose a little bit, if you're interested in dinosaurs. Review copy received from Edelweiss. Edited to add: I am going to close the comments on this, since no one seems capable of talking about dinosaurs, but the question of examples from the book was a fair one. This review was very hard to write since the review copies specifically ask you only to quote from the finished book, which did not exist yet, so I was avoiding direct quotes. However, I have patiently waited for a library copy and spot checked a few passages that I could find by searching my Kindle copy for specific terms. Two of the most objectionable parts that I would have quoted have been changed. In the midst of a favorable description of a hedonistic conference in Argentina (steak, drinking, dancing, etc.), the review copy mentions "an outrageous quip about the physical qualities of the foreign women in attendance." On page 42 of the finished book, the text now reads "an outrageous quip about some of the foreigners in attendance"--which makes the edit fairly obvious because the resulting sentence doesn't make a lot of sense. On page 346 of the final book, what had originally said "crass inside jokes" was edited to "inside jokes." (I hope the publisher will forgive the forbidden quoting here.) I'm guessing the editor jumped in here, and kudos to them for doing so, but it doesn't change my overall feeling about the book. Three stars is not one star, folks! The book had some good parts (the information about the dinosaurs) and some bad parts (where the author talks about himself). This is hardly scintillating memoir from someone who thinks that "he never lets his students pay for beer" (finished book pg. 289) makes someone a really cool and interesting person. If you think so too, you can read this book without even holding your nose as I originally suggested. If you don't, you can still read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Now that I am an expert on dinosaurs...... lol, not even close to being an expert but I did learn a lot from this book. For instance, new species of dinosaurs are still being discovered, they weren't always big, and about the big "bang/meteor" which ended their reign on earth. My interest in dinosaurs occurred the same way that most people's interest was piqued. Through museum visits and television. Land of the Lost anyone? My sister and I loved watching it on Saturday mornings - we were especiall Now that I am an expert on dinosaurs...... lol, not even close to being an expert but I did learn a lot from this book. For instance, new species of dinosaurs are still being discovered, they weren't always big, and about the big "bang/meteor" which ended their reign on earth. My interest in dinosaurs occurred the same way that most people's interest was piqued. Through museum visits and television. Land of the Lost anyone? My sister and I loved watching it on Saturday mornings - we were especially excited when the T-Rex made its appearance. Then there was Jurassic Park which knocked it out of the ballpark with the sound effects and frightening scenes of dinosaurs being well…dinosaurs...because, as Jeff Goldblum so eloquently put it "life finds a way." Life did find a way for millions of years. Brusatte writes about them in this book. He begins at the beginning literally and gives a glimpse into what their last moments might have been like. He details changes, both environmental, geographical and physiological. These prehistoric ancestors to some of our modern-day animals have intrigued man since fossils have been discovered. Many questions have been answered, while others are still out there. Theories on their demise have been around since their fossils have been discovered. This isn't just a book about dinosaurs, it is also a book about Brusatte's career, his friends, the excavations he was on, and other scientists/paleontologists he knows. Most of this I didn't mind. I love when people are excited about what they do. I interpreted most of it as him showing how he learned and who he worked with in the field. Did I need to know who went drinking with who after a fossil discovery, not really, but I didn't mind it. It was a day and a night in the life of a paleontologist. I recall how excited I was as child finding a fossil of a shell in a rock. I can only imagine how exciting it must be to actually find a dinosaur fossil - let alone a brand new one. This is a pretty meaty book as it holds a lot of information. He knows his stuff and and showcases his chapters with pictures and drawings. This is not a book someone can speed read through. But it was enlightening and entertaining at the same time. This book is full of facts but with the facts does come some conjecture. The Author is full of knowledge and shares it in a very readable manner. I found this book to be interesting and learned a lot, more than I ever did in school.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I loved the parts about dinosaurs. Fun facts, history, evidence and speculation on behavior, recent discoveries, distribution as the continents divided and spread out. It's a compact assessable update on dinosaurs large and small. Oh, just another coelophysis, no this is something new! I tuned out the sections of the author's personal experience. I wasn't interested. Based on other GR reviews, that's probably for the best.

  6. 4 out of 5

    ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪SomeBunny Reads (Phoenix)•*¨*•♫♪

    If, like me, you were a kid during the Jurassic Park era, you know that the new generations have an interest in dinosaurs which is ten hundred times less than we had in the 1990s. At the time, dinosaurs were everywhere: on TV, on our first computers, in video games, even in cereal boxes. Sometimes I can't help but being flabbergasted by the notion that today's kindergartners don't know what a dyplodocus is, or exactly how tall and heavy a brontosaurus was. Of course, my notions about dinosaurs If, like me, you were a kid during the Jurassic Park era, you know that the new generations have an interest in dinosaurs which is ten hundred times less than we had in the 1990s. At the time, dinosaurs were everywhere: on TV, on our first computers, in video games, even in cereal boxes. Sometimes I can't help but being flabbergasted by the notion that today's kindergartners don't know what a dyplodocus is, or exactly how tall and heavy a brontosaurus was. Of course, my notions about dinosaurs also stopped growing after a couple of years, with the result that the last time I updated them, little Tim was still complaining about how crazy the theory that some of them may have learned how to fly was. Brusatte literally tells us that seagulls are dinosaurs, which is cool I mean, I was so sad when they all died in that tragic accident with the meteor and mass destruction and stuff. But that is not the only reason why I am glad I read this book. Not all scientists are writers, and even less are good writers. Just because your mind literally overflows with knowledge, doesn't mean that you are also good at sharing it with others. This book, in my opinion, shows that Brusatte is not only good at his job, but also at making other people interested in what he has to say: last time a book about dinosaurs became so famous, there were only two Jurassic park movies. This book is not as much the history of dinosaurs as it is the story of how that history has been discovered: inside it, paleontologists are nothing less than detectives who use everything in their power to reconstruct events that happened hundreds of millions of years ago. I enjoyed being engrossed in this book, but two things always prevent me from liking any "pop science" book at a five star level, and I found them in this one as well. First is the idealization of the character of the scientist: in these books, professors are nothing less than real life Indiana Jones, with brains as big as a star ship and looks like Captain America. Their personalities are always charming and they have more fan girls than a rockstar. I understand that part of the reason for doing so is to keep the public interested, but part of it is genuine fanboying and blind adoration from the writer. Unfortunately, having studied and then worked in a University for almost ten years and having been in close contact with some of these superstar professors, I found out that these people are, for the majority, very different from how the public perceives them. Their flamboyant style and eccentric personality are often the result of a self-absorbed, narcissistic and sometimes borderline sociopathic personality. You can spend a couple of interesting dinners with them and being completely fascinated by their discoveries, you can listen to their speeches for hours, but don't try to marry one of them... not that I have a personal experience with that of course 😂 (jk, I totally do). The second issue is that many of these scientific writers tend to present their discoveries, and in general the state of the art in a specific field as it is today, as the ultimate science Truth that finally answered all the questions we had in the past surrounding a specific topic. In reality, within ten years we will probably read a new book on these topics that will completely change everything that is said here, and that will also be presented as Truth. Let's never forget that every scientific theory, as revolutionary and clear as it can be, is exactly what it is: a theory, and every knowledge is temporary. This book was one of the best, most interesting pieces of non-fiction I read this year. I recommend it to anyone who has or had interests in this topic, and also to anyone who wants to get started on dinosaurs! But remember guys:

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    Unlike many people, I've never been fascinated by dinosaurs. I don't recall learning about them as a child, though perhaps I did and my interest wasn't piqued enough to remember. I think my only exposure to them was via the cartoon The Flintstones. I didn't get much of a science education as a child but as an adult, science (all areas that I've learned about) is one of my favourite subjects and my favourite type of book to read. So it's a bit odd that I didn't feel compelled to read or learn abo Unlike many people, I've never been fascinated by dinosaurs. I don't recall learning about them as a child, though perhaps I did and my interest wasn't piqued enough to remember. I think my only exposure to them was via the cartoon The Flintstones. I didn't get much of a science education as a child but as an adult, science (all areas that I've learned about) is one of my favourite subjects and my favourite type of book to read. So it's a bit odd that I didn't feel compelled to read or learn about dinosaurs -- until now. Prior to its publication whilst preparing a book order for my library and reading about it, I knew it was one I would want to read. When it arrived and I saw its cover, I was entranced and almost bumped it ahead in my TBR list. It's better to prolong the anticipation of something good though, so I waited until it came up next in my TBR list, to read it. Wow oh wow! I can see why this won the Goodreads Choice Award 2018 for Science! The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World is an utterly fascinating and absorbing read! Stephen Brusatte is a paleontologist who specializes in the evolution of dinosaurs. In this book, he brings his vast knowledge of all things dinosaur to us. With the latest research at his fingertips, he discusses how and why dinosaurs came to rule the Earth. He details the evolution and anatomy of many of the species (in my prior ignorance, I assumed there were only around 25 or so species, most notably T. Rex and Brontosaurus. I was amazed to learn that we know of over 700 different species of dinosaurs! Incredible!!) I had no clue that most dinosaurs probably had feathers, or that they came in a rainbow of colours, sometimes iridescent, and we can tell from fossils what those colours were -- even though the fossils themselves lack pigment. We learn that wings probably first evolved as a display feature to attract mates and frighten enemies, and only gradually and accidentally evolved into something that would enable flight. We learn that a teenage T. Rex would have gained on average 5 pounds a day in order to reach its vast size. I hope they weren't as weight conscious as humans teens! Mr. Brussatte doesn't just tell us about dinosaurs, but also about the world they thrived in, so very different from the earth humans have always called home. There is so much information on Pangea, its climate and eventual breaking apart that I found extremely interesting. He paints such a vivid picture of the world the dinosaurs inhabited. He tells the story of what the dinosaurs would have experienced in the moments after the asteroid or comet struck 65 million year ago, ending the Cretaceous period.... and the reign of the dinosaurs. He tells us why and how these great and diverse creatures went extinct except for birds, and why some mammals survived when the dinosaurs could not. He tells us the story of how a scientist named Walter Alvarez figured out that an asteroid or comet had struck the earth and was responsible for the dinosaurs' extinction. It was all so very captivating! These topics and so many others are discussed in this book and I think it will be of interest to many people. It's written for the lay person and one (obviously) does not need to have prior knowledge of dinosaurs in order to understand and enjoy this book. I went from no interest in and little knowledge of these creatures to now wanting to become an amateur fossil hunter! Kudos to Stephen Brusatte for writing such a brilliant book!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Steve Brusatte takes the reader deep inside his extensive research as a palaeontologist to explore the world during the time of the dinosaurs. Offering thrilling facts and great anecdotes, this is one piece sure to be talked about for years. Choosing to discuss a topic that has likely enthralled most readers at some time or another, Brusatte seeks to help the reader better understand the world at the time of dinosaurs, including how Earth changed to facilitate dinosaur emergence, the various eco Steve Brusatte takes the reader deep inside his extensive research as a palaeontologist to explore the world during the time of the dinosaurs. Offering thrilling facts and great anecdotes, this is one piece sure to be talked about for years. Choosing to discuss a topic that has likely enthralled most readers at some time or another, Brusatte seeks to help the reader better understand the world at the time of dinosaurs, including how Earth changed to facilitate dinosaur emergence, the various ecological and atmospheric happenings that helped support their existence, and some of the accepted theories about their extinction. Tackling hundreds of millions of years in this piece, Brusatte makes the journey highly informative and light-hearted, providing the reader with numerous facts about the time, as well as stories from past palaeontologists who discovered many interesting facts, based on fossils. Looking to explain some of the groupings of dinosaurs, Brusatte offers up some interesting tidbits about their connection and how they evolved over time, contrasting them with others—how and why the T-Rex differed from the brontosaurus, for example—and providing a better understanding of how they lived. With detailed discussions and an entire chapter dedicated to the most famous of all dinosaurs, Brusatte also seeks to dispel some of the myths that books and films have sought to use to their advantage. He also takes the latter part of the book to engage the reader in the evolving debate over dinosaurs as being predecessors to birds or simply distant relatives, and ends with a thrilling discussion of dinosaur extinction. The world of dinosaurs comes alive, making the journey one of constant learning and fact-based discussion, superimposed with some of his own personal experiences on the hunt for new discoveries. Those with an interest in the subject will likely find this a wonderful read, which mixes some technical discussion of the world of palaeontology and suspected means by which these creates lived millions of years ago. Recommended to those who are curious about the subject, in hopes that it will spurn discussion and further personal research. I like to think that I took an interest in dinosaurs as a child, perusing them at museums when given the opportunity. I saw some of the movies based on Michael Chritchton’s books as well, which instilled some of the fear factor as it relates to the more carnivorous reptiles. However, unlike Brusatte, I did not have the same passion he possesses, which makes my reading of this book a little more of a challenge. Those who know me and my reviews will understand that I love to learn, something that Steve Brusatte helped with repeatedly in this piece. His detailed discussion, not only of the setting but its key players of the time, brought history to life in a way I had not thought before. As the narrative progressed, layering other discoveries from an earlier era helped to add depth to this book, which spends part of its time focussed on Brusatte’s studies and personal explorations. One theme that emerges throughout is that the evolution and downfall of the dinosaurs was by no means sudden—as in, a single event, per se—or uniform, but rather part of the evolutionary process the Earth undertook over time. Biblical literalists will bemoan much of the research and discussion that denotes the millions of years this took, but Brusatte is able to support his arguments with strong facts and details from many digs throughout the world. With easy to comprehend chapters that lead the reader throughout the dinosaur process, Brusatte offers much for the reader who may be a layperson when it comes to fossils and excavation. Brilliant in its delivery, it is one piece that should not be missed by anyone with an interest in the subject. Kudos, Mr. Brusatte, for pulling me in from the opening chapters and helping me to appreciate more of the world’s early inhabitants. I would love to delve into some of your other published work! This book fulfils the July 2019 requirement of the Mind the Bookshelf Gap Reading Group. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    5/5 for the informational sections about dinosaurs. 1/5 for the autobiographical sections about the author’s academic/research career in which he comes off as a sexist narcissist. Gross. Overall, read the sections about the dinosaurs and skip the parts about his personal experiences. I listened to the audiobook so I couldn’t skim the awful, masturbatory memoir stuff, which I found unfortunate. Every time he mentions a scientist, he turns it into a self-congratulating name drop. I wish the author 5/5 for the informational sections about dinosaurs. 1/5 for the autobiographical sections about the author’s academic/research career in which he comes off as a sexist narcissist. Gross. Overall, read the sections about the dinosaurs and skip the parts about his personal experiences. I listened to the audiobook so I couldn’t skim the awful, masturbatory memoir stuff, which I found unfortunate. Every time he mentions a scientist, he turns it into a self-congratulating name drop. I wish the author had focused on the dinosaurs because that was the most interesting part and what I picked the book up to learn.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    I was a dinosaur obsessed kid. I watched the entire Land Before Time series, many many times, and would rewatch BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs so often that I can still quote large segments of it verbatim despite not having watched it for over a decade. I didn't know about this book until it won the Goodreads Choice Award for best non-fiction in 2018, and I knew I had to read it. Even though my obsession with Dinosaurs has faded, I still find the humongous animals that roamed the earth we stand on I was a dinosaur obsessed kid. I watched the entire Land Before Time series, many many times, and would rewatch BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs so often that I can still quote large segments of it verbatim despite not having watched it for over a decade. I didn't know about this book until it won the Goodreads Choice Award for best non-fiction in 2018, and I knew I had to read it. Even though my obsession with Dinosaurs has faded, I still find the humongous animals that roamed the earth we stand on right now so freakin fascinating. They seem so alien and out of this world, its hard to really fully process they very much were alive and thriving 150 million years ago. The information in this book was definitely interesting - when it related to the Dinosaurs. Research indicating Dinosaurs had feathers, information on new species such as a bad winged Dinosaur, crucial to understanding how Dinosaurs evolved into todays birds, explanations of how we know what colours Dinosaurs are, and conclusive proof that it was an asteroid that wiped out the Dinosaurs for good. But that was kind of outweighed by the author - who was often incredibly annoying and injected his own story and relationships into the story way too often. He's like that guy in your class who is absolutely desperate for everyone to know he is, in fact, the smartest person in the room. The way he name dropped colleagues was not only annoying, but also confusing, as all the names got jumbled into one (and I was expected to remember them despite only being mentioned once 500 pages ago). The sexism also was a bit off-putting, especially one section that made me actually cringe - where the author gleefully recounts a palaeontologist event where the speaker spent his time talking about the bodies of female palaeontologists and talking about how many he had slept with. It reeked of the awkward nerdy boy in high school who said awful things about women to try and sound cooler but just ended up sounding like a dick everyone hated. If you want to know about Dinosaurs, including so much emerging research you definitely would not have heard about before I do recommend this - but go into it with a huge grain of salt because the author was A Lot in my opinion. I couldn't skip his personal stories on the audiobook, but I would do that if you're reading physically. Now, enjoy this picture of T-Rex drawn with the feathers they absolutely had

  11. 4 out of 5

    WILLIAM2

    Fun 🦖 dinosaur 🦕 hunting tales old and new told in a light and airy style. A decent explanation of the shaky advent of dinosaurs in the early Triassic, which I didn’t know. Then around 220 million years ago, we move into the splitting up of Pangea and the long season of volcanic activity, say, 20,000,000 years, during which many non-dino species were wiped out. This was the big opportunity dinosaurs had been waiting for. What the book provides is the long chronology of dinosaurs and their appear Fun 🦖 dinosaur 🦕 hunting tales old and new told in a light and airy style. A decent explanation of the shaky advent of dinosaurs in the early Triassic, which I didn’t know. Then around 220 million years ago, we move into the splitting up of Pangea and the long season of volcanic activity, say, 20,000,000 years, during which many non-dino species were wiped out. This was the big opportunity dinosaurs had been waiting for. What the book provides is the long chronology of dinosaurs and their appearance and development over 240 million years. A number of vexing questions are addressed, like how could the largest of the dinosaurs have managed life at such titanic size? The brontosaurus for instance? One key reason was their exceedingly long necks which permitted them to reach higher into trees; Brusatte says it permitted them to eat the “huge meals necessary to put on excessive weight.” Second, was their astonishing ability to grow from “guinea-pig size hatchlings to airplane-size adults in only about 30 or 40 years.” The third feature was the development of a special new kind of lung. This unidirectional lung, seen today only in birds, was able to inhale air, yes, but also to save a little air and pass it back across the lung again on exhalation. This extra breathing efficiency made it possible for the animals to keep their large body masses cool. As part of the lungs the dinosaurs had a system of air sacs throughout their bodies. We know this because “...many bones of the chest cavity have big openings, called pneumatic fenestrae, where the air sacs extend deep inside. They are exactly the same structures in modern birds, and they can only be made with air sacs. The air sacs also have the added benefit of lightening the skeleton “when they invade bone. In fact they hollow out the bone, so that it still has a strong outer shell but is much more light weight... The vertebra were so engulfed by air sacs that they were little more than honeycombs, featherweight but still strong. And that’s advantage four: The air sacs allowed sauropods to have a skeleton that was both sturdy and the light enough to move around.” A fascinating if brief picture of dino-era predation is also given, which shows all the mechanisms of selection working superbly hundreds of millions of years before Charles Darwin came along to articulate them. They vanished after the Cretatious extinction event 66 million years ago when a meteor impact made the 112-mile wide Chicxulub crater (see Walter Álvarez) in the Gulf of Mexico. This might be the right guy to serve us in the stead of Stephen Jay Gould. There’s no one even remotely like SJG but Mr. Brusatte might be a viable substitute. If he’s going to fill those shoes though, he’s going to have to read widely in areas of interest that have nothing to do with paleontology; this as a means of developing his own inimitable encyclopedic style—which should remain light and airy. (Why can’t all my male authors look as nice as this one?)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tina Haigler

    "A FEW HOURS BEFORE LIGHT broke on a cold November morning in 2014, I got out of a taxi and pushed my way into Beijing's central railway station." I had no idea how little I actually knew about dinosaurs, until I read this. I was obsessed as a kid. I would read anything and everything dinosaur related I could get my hands on. As an adult though, I've been seriously slacking, which became all too apparent when I picked up this book. This book covers from the period of Earth's history, before the fi "A FEW HOURS BEFORE LIGHT broke on a cold November morning in 2014, I got out of a taxi and pushed my way into Beijing's central railway station." I had no idea how little I actually knew about dinosaurs, until I read this. I was obsessed as a kid. I would read anything and everything dinosaur related I could get my hands on. As an adult though, I've been seriously slacking, which became all too apparent when I picked up this book. This book covers from the period of Earth's history, before the first true dinosaurs came into play, all the way up to their extinction. It's absolutely fascinating! I have truly learned so much. You learn about plant life, Pangaea, how the world changed, about animals that lived among the dinosaurs, what the weather was like, the different environments, and so much more. It also contains first person accounts from the author's life, about his adventures fossil hunting around the globe with colleagues and teachers, as well as him studying and cataloging fossils with other scientists. I've read a lot of reviews that claim the author is sexist, but I didn't find this to be the case at all. Sure, he mentions more men then women, but the women he does mention, are praised for their knowledge and skill. Where others saw a misogynist, I saw a man who highly respects his female colleagues. Also some people didn't enjoy reading about his personal adventures. I found that the stories of fossil hunting and groundbreaking discoveries broke up the monotony of the cut and dry scientific information, and that without it, the book would've been rather dull. After all, my brain can only soak up so much at once. So if you love memoirs, dinosaurs, paleontology, geology, or any of the other related sciences that go along with fossils, this is a must read. However, if memoirs, dinosaurs, or science bore you, this simply isn't the book for you. Personally, I'll probably read this book more than once. "If it could happen to the dinosaurs, could it also happen to us?"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Many thanks to William Morrow for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review I never liked dinosaurs. There I said it. As a young boy, I hated anything that could be associated with "boys", "men" or "masculinity". Not in a sexist way. I just had undiagnosed gender dysphoria. But that's not what I am here to talk about today. Even though I don't have much interest in dinosaurs, I still enjoyed this book. Mind you, that isn't because I understood a single word of what he was saying but becau Many thanks to William Morrow for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review I never liked dinosaurs. There I said it. As a young boy, I hated anything that could be associated with "boys", "men" or "masculinity". Not in a sexist way. I just had undiagnosed gender dysphoria. But that's not what I am here to talk about today. Even though I don't have much interest in dinosaurs, I still enjoyed this book. Mind you, that isn't because I understood a single word of what he was saying but because I could feel the pure joy and passion. It was almost like the author was sitting across from me, trying to explain to me the wonders of his world, smiling and stumbling over his words as one does when they are ecstatic. That said, I was disappointed that I really didn't learn much because I couldn't understand what he was saying. Maybe it was me. Maybe not. I almost felt like I was missing something. Like, I had missed a class or seminar or previous book. Even so, I loved his writing style. He was funny, light-hearted and used creative metaphors and clever wording. | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jaya

    Dinosaurs! For me that word is enough to at least flip through the pages of a book. Brusatte's work can be easily considered as a layman's guide to dinosaurs. Really enjoyed the almost casual and anecdotal narrative by the author, made me feel less dumb for not knowing anything "scientific" about the species. Quite remarkable how fast I finished reading this one, considering that I take lot more time reading non-fics. It was definitely a hard-to-put-down/away kind of a book. I liked how the autho Dinosaurs! For me that word is enough to at least flip through the pages of a book. Brusatte's work can be easily considered as a layman's guide to dinosaurs. Really enjoyed the almost casual and anecdotal narrative by the author, made me feel less dumb for not knowing anything "scientific" about the species. Quite remarkable how fast I finished reading this one, considering that I take lot more time reading non-fics. It was definitely a hard-to-put-down/away kind of a book. I liked how the author busted a few myths about dinosaurs as have been portrayed in popular culture by stating reasons and explanations carried out through research done in the recent past. Extra points for the numerous illustrations and images of the locations and species that were mentioned. All this mention of dinos made me reminiscent of a day I spent last year with these species :D That's a T-rex btw :) And adding this place as a definite MUST-VISIT for my next trip... Bottom image is of the Yale Peabody Museum, courtesy Google

  15. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Overall: A brilliant combination of paleontology, research, and evolution detailing the rise and fall of the dinosaurs told by a dinosaur expert. Enthusiastic, fact-filled, and wonderfully written, anyone will learn and be captivated by this book 7.5/10 Summary: Dr. Brusatte is an American paleontologist that now is a professor and consultant in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh and one of the most world-renowned dinosaur experts. 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs were wiped from the face Overall: A brilliant combination of paleontology, research, and evolution detailing the rise and fall of the dinosaurs told by a dinosaur expert. Enthusiastic, fact-filled, and wonderfully written, anyone will learn and be captivated by this book 7.5/10 Summary: Dr. Brusatte is an American paleontologist that now is a professor and consultant in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh and one of the most world-renowned dinosaur experts. 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. In this novel, Brusatte gives a detailed and exciting account of the evolution of the dinosaurs up until the mass extinction at the beginning of the Triassic period. Additionally, the book is filled with interesting stories from around the world as he progresses through his career as a paleontologist. The Good: “Somewhere around the world,” Brusatte writes, “a new species of dinosaur is currently being found, on average, once a week. Let that sink in: a new dinosaur every … single … week.” If that doesn’t get you excited, then maybe some of these facts will: • Tyrannosaurus rex was strong enough to bite through a car • Morocco and New York used to be connected during pangea • Some of the dinosaurs could reach sizes of up to 50 tons! • 10,000 species of dinosaurs still exist While we talk about the fall of the dinosaurs, tens of thousands of species of dinosaurs are still among us. We call them birds. You may not believe it, but “birds are just a weird group of dinosaurs that evolved wings and learned to fly. The realization that birds are dinosaurs is probably the single most important fact ever discovered by dinosaur paleontologists.” This book is awesome and the author absolutely brilliant. I loved the detail and research seeping through every sentence of this book. I mean, it literally oozes enthusiasm and I couldn’t help but get excited. Anything about dinosaurs is difficult to not be interested in, but this book really does take it to a new level. The writing is exceptional and he does a fantastic job at presenting the entire history and evolution of dinosaurs while also weaving in his journey as a paleontologist and recent discoveries that have been made. Highly recommend! The Bad: I do not have much to say here. I wish there was a bit more time given to the theories around why early dinosaurs survived the hell of the Triassic extinction, leaving them free of competitors and thus able to multiply and dominate? There is so much literature and discussion (not in this book I am talking in general) devoted to the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago and this is the first thing I have read that highlights their over 150 million year reign. Brusatte states “Far from being failures, they were evolutionary success stories.” Their fossilized remains can be found just about everywhere on earth and I do wish a bit more was devoted to theories as well as specifics, like anatomy and physiology, that helped them become so successful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    This is a fun look at the development and world of the dinosaurs. Stephen Brusatte stated the interesting recent finds regarding dinosaurs and speculated, from the evidence, what their world could have been like. The section of what happened when the asteroid hit Earth was frightening. Those poor beasts. There is some name dropping and a bit of "patting one self on the back" at one's brilliancy but then the top Scientists of all disciplines are brilliant, so perhaps that's an understood fact. No This is a fun look at the development and world of the dinosaurs. Stephen Brusatte stated the interesting recent finds regarding dinosaurs and speculated, from the evidence, what their world could have been like. The section of what happened when the asteroid hit Earth was frightening. Those poor beasts. There is some name dropping and a bit of "patting one self on the back" at one's brilliancy but then the top Scientists of all disciplines are brilliant, so perhaps that's an understood fact. Not annoying but noticeable throughout the book. All in all, I recommend this book if interested in the world that was at the time of dinosaurs. Lots of interesting information, told in an enjoyable, understandable way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This book not only provides an overview of the current state of dinosaur research but also a history of paleontology and the characters who have worked in the field. It is a rapidly expanding field. Right now is the golden age of dinosaur research. Somebody, somewhere around the world, is finding a new species of dinosaur now, on average, once a week. So that’s 50-some new species a year, and that’s not a new bone or a new skeleton, that’s a totally new type of dinosaur that we never knew existe This book not only provides an overview of the current state of dinosaur research but also a history of paleontology and the characters who have worked in the field. It is a rapidly expanding field. Right now is the golden age of dinosaur research. Somebody, somewhere around the world, is finding a new species of dinosaur now, on average, once a week. So that’s 50-some new species a year, and that’s not a new bone or a new skeleton, that’s a totally new type of dinosaur that we never knew existed before.Prior to listening to this book, my knowledge of dinosaurs was based primarily on a smattering of news reports. Thus I previously had the impression that the bird-dinosaur relationship was a debatable hypothesis. But evidence now available seems quite convincing.The Liaoning fossils sealed the deal by verifying how many features are shared uniquely by birds and other theropods, not just feathers but also wishbones, three fingered hands that can fold against the body, and hundreds of other aspects of the skeleton. There are no other groups of animals, living or extinct, that share these things with birds or theropods. This must mean that birds came from theropods. Any other conclusion requires a whole lot of special pleading.Among the unique features shared by birds and dinosaurs is a respiratory system that provides highly efficient and light weight oxygen transfer system. No other species alive today has a respiratory system like this. To me this is the definitive proof of the relationship. Its amazing what can be deduced about dinosaurs by modern science. For example, dinosaurs had color. Through the use of melanosomes it has been inferred that feathered dinosaurs had a variety of colors which leads to the possibility that the feathers were developed for display purposes—peacock like—and subsequently turned into flying equipment through the evolutionary process. The author Brusatte leads the reader through the various stages of dinosaur evolution, beginning with the Triassic Period when their presence was not dominate. However a mass extinction caused by large and continuing volcanic eruptions cleared the way for dinosaurs to dominate during the following Jurassic Period. Brusatte devotes a whole chapter to the subject of T. Rex, the perfect “killing machine.” It is pointed out that their maximum life span was thirty years, and by the age of thirty they had a physic that would not allow them to run fast. Brusatte speculates that this may indicate that they hunted in packs because the T. Rex adolescents were lean and capable of running fast. The youth in the pack could catch the prey and the giant adults could move in for the kill. Measurements of the brain cavity show that, "Rex was roughly as smart as a chimp and more intelligent than dogs and cats.” From the skeletal structure around the brain paleontologist are able to determine that the Tyrannosaurus possessed heightened sensory abilities and relatively rapid and coordinated eye and head movements. This included an enhanced sense of smell. It also had an enhanced ability to sense low frequency sounds that would allow tyrannosaurs to track prey movements from long distances. The book provides an imagined description of what it would have been like to be alive on earth 66 million years ago at the time of the crash of the mighty meteor that ended the Jurassic Period killing off the dinosaurs except for birds. It appears that species that burrowed, had the freedom to fly, and could scavenge on dead organic material for several years after the meteor were the only ones that survived. No mammals at the time were larger than a modern badger. From this description I am convinced that if a similar sized meteor struck the earth now that it's highly questionable whether any humans could survive. The following is a link to an excerpt from this book: https://mailchi.mp/delanceyplace.com/...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Like so many people, I went through a dinosaur phase as a child. It was almost inevitable. Growing up on the Upper West Side, I could visit the Museum of Natural History nearly every week. Natural selection has overcome many engineering problems—flight, sight, growth, digestion—and it has certainly not failed in its ability to awe little boys. I picked up this book to finally learn something about these ancient beasts. Any fair evaluation of this book must conclude that it does its job: it summar Like so many people, I went through a dinosaur phase as a child. It was almost inevitable. Growing up on the Upper West Side, I could visit the Museum of Natural History nearly every week. Natural selection has overcome many engineering problems—flight, sight, growth, digestion—and it has certainly not failed in its ability to awe little boys. I picked up this book to finally learn something about these ancient beasts. Any fair evaluation of this book must conclude that it does its job: it summarizes new discoveries about dinosaurs in accessible prose. Brusatte goes through the entire chronology of the group, from their beginnings as unremarkable reptiles which emerged after the great Permian-Triassic Extinction, to their gradual rise, growth, spread, and diversification, and finally to their eventual end—wiped out by an asteroid. There are many interesting tidbits along the way. Dinosaurs had the efficient lungs we find in modern birds, which are able to extract oxygen during the inhale and exhale. They also had primitive feathers, which looked more like hairs. Indeed, modern birds are dinosaurs in the strict sense of the word. I was particularly surprised to learn that Tyrannosaurus Rex lived and hunted in groups; and that they achieved their massive size extremely quickly—growing several pounds a day for years on end. I also appreciated Brusatte’s descriptions of the methods that paleontologists use—new statistical techniques for analyzing fossils, or piecing together ancient ecosystems, or determining rates of evolutionary change. Nowadays paleontologists to not merely look for old bones, but they study living animals to make hypotheses about the speed, strength, and size of these extinct creatures. One researcher even studied fossils under a microscope to deduce the color of the feathers from the indentations. Brusatte also covers some of the history of dinosaur research, which is surprisingly colorful—especially the tragic life of the Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás. So the book undoubtedly accomplishes its goal. My only complaint is the style. When Brusatte sticks to the science, he is clear and engaging. But whenever he chooses to embellish the story—which is rather too often—the prose becomes strained and grating. Here is a description of a seagull that opens his chapter on birds: When the sun breaks through for a moment, I catch a glint reflected in its beady eyes, which start to dance back and forth. No doubt this is a creature of keen senses and high intelligence, and it’s onto something. Maybe it can tell that I’m watching. Then, without warning, it yawns open its mouth and emits a high-pitched screech—an alarm to its compatriots, perhaps, or a mating call. Or maybe it’s a threat directed my way. In fairness, I did enjoy his description of what the dinosaurs would have experienced in the first few minutes after the asteroid impact. More irksome, however, were the thumbnail sketches of his colleagues, which are interspersed throughout the book. I would have understood the necessity of these passages if Brusatte were introducing a researcher who would play an important role in the book. Yet inevitably these researchers were introduced with fanfare only to be immediately dropped. What is more, Brusatte always focuses on the quirkiest aspects of these researchers, in a superficial attempt at coolness; and he also makes sure to tell us that he is one of their best friends. In one particularly aggravating example, Brusatte describes one researcher’s fashion (“leopard-print Lycra, piercings, and tattoos”), ethnicity (“half-Irish, half-Chinese”), hobbies (“raving and even occasionally DJ-ing in the trendy clubs of China’s suddenly hip capital”), and conversation style (“delivering caustic one-liners one moment, speaking in eloquent paragraphs about politics the next”). Does this add anything of value to the book? These stylistic irritations mar what is otherwise an excellent popular book about dinosaurs. And since these offending passages do not add anything to the substance of the book, my advice is just to skip on until he gets back on the subject of dinosaurs—a topic which brings out the best in Brusatte.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bfisher

    The actual pop science part of this book is OK - a reasonably readable account of recent developments and discoveries in the sciences bearing of the history of the dinosaurs. If it had been edited to that level, it could have been a solid 3 stars. Unfortunately, there is a peculiar injection of personalities into this book, and unpleasant personalities at that - imagine a cross of Animal House with Raiders of the Lost Arc. I finished reading this book because of my interest in the science, but I The actual pop science part of this book is OK - a reasonably readable account of recent developments and discoveries in the sciences bearing of the history of the dinosaurs. If it had been edited to that level, it could have been a solid 3 stars. Unfortunately, there is a peculiar injection of personalities into this book, and unpleasant personalities at that - imagine a cross of Animal House with Raiders of the Lost Arc. I finished reading this book because of my interest in the science, but I had to grit my teeth frequently.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Curie

    I love dinosaurs. How insane is it to think that millions ago, those creates roamed the same lands we inhabit today? It is an idea that has fascinated me as a kid watching Disney's Dinosaur and (of course) Jurassic Park as much as it does today as an adult, getting excited about books by paleontologists like Steve Brusatte. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is an absolute joy to read and now possibly my favorite book on the subject. Brusatte specialized in the anatomy and evolution of dinosaurs I love dinosaurs. How insane is it to think that millions ago, those creates roamed the same lands we inhabit today? It is an idea that has fascinated me as a kid watching Disney's Dinosaur and (of course) Jurassic Park as much as it does today as an adult, getting excited about books by paleontologists like Steve Brusatte. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is an absolute joy to read and now possibly my favorite book on the subject. Brusatte specialized in the anatomy and evolution of dinosaurs and uses this book to retell the story of those ancient creatures: from their first appearance in the Triassic era to them becoming dominant during the Jurassic Era only to eventually die out when an asteroid or comet hit the Earth. It is an approachable read and Brusatte is able to form a narrative that is both engaging and informative. This book particularly focusses on their evolutionary development, which I appreciated. We all know about evolution and how it operates, but I felt like reading this gave me a completely new understanding of how crucial and all-encompassing evolution is to all life on Earth. Even a tyrannosaurus rex didn't just pop up one day and decided to take the golden place at the top of the food chain, but could only become who he was after thousands of years' worth of development. Brusatte loosens the narrative up by adding personal stories, which are delightful if you are interested in paleontology as an academic field. He talks about various encounters with peers and his own heroes, their works and discoveries and thereby manages to evoke a vivid picture of what the world of paleontologists is like - including which questions of nature are yet to be answered. He also comes clean with some misconceptions we have about dinosaurs (yes, birds are dinosaurs, so technically they are not extinct and no, that iconic scene from Jurassic Park in which a T. rex chases the escaping jeep would certainly not have played out like that). This book is exciting. It made me realize how it is not just the stories we make up that are exciting. It is our own, real and breathing world that is.

  21. 4 out of 5

    ~The Bookish Redhead~

    I love learning about dinosaurs. They fascinated me when I was in attendance at school, and as an adult, I find them even more so. What definitely doesn't fascinate me, is Steve Brusatte's writing, and the terribly irritating way he injects his own personal life story into this. Granted, he certainly knows his stuff, but I wanted to know specifically about dinosaurs, not what Steve Brusatte ate for breakfast approximately seven years ago. I'm not ashamed to admit, that as a child, Jurassic Park w I love learning about dinosaurs. They fascinated me when I was in attendance at school, and as an adult, I find them even more so. What definitely doesn't fascinate me, is Steve Brusatte's writing, and the terribly irritating way he injects his own personal life story into this. Granted, he certainly knows his stuff, but I wanted to know specifically about dinosaurs, not what Steve Brusatte ate for breakfast approximately seven years ago. I'm not ashamed to admit, that as a child, Jurassic Park was one of my favourite films. It is tongue in cheek, but that car scene outside of the Tyrannosaurus paddock, I'll never forget it. There was some interesting information in here, but for the majority of the time, the way in which it was presented to the reader, made for tedious reading. I will definitely be searching for more books on the dinosaurs, but preferably some where the author isn't in love with the sound of his own voice.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I found the information presented in this book to be fascinating. This is an absorbing scientific study which presents up to date discoveries and knowledge about dinosaurs and the facts should be accessible to any interested reader. I admired Stephen Brusatte’s writing style and his brilliant description of three eras of the earth; the Triassic, Jurassic and the Cretaceous. He describes shifting geological patterns, the landscapes, climate, and types of animal life during each stage. He writes I found the information presented in this book to be fascinating. This is an absorbing scientific study which presents up to date discoveries and knowledge about dinosaurs and the facts should be accessible to any interested reader. I admired Stephen Brusatte’s writing style and his brilliant description of three eras of the earth; the Triassic, Jurassic and the Cretaceous. He describes shifting geological patterns, the landscapes, climate, and types of animal life during each stage. He writes vivid scenes of the plant life and the dinosaurs roaming the earth or small creatures hiding away in burrows. He draws a terrifying picture of a series of cataclysmic events at the close of the Cretaceous era which lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs. I still have the book The Dinosaur Heresies published in 1986. Dr.Robert Bakker presented a new way of thinking about dinosaurs. His speculations were in collaboration with some paleontologists but stirred up a lot of controversy among others. He considered dinosaurs to be not the slow, lumbering, cold-blooded beasts, but warm-blooded, quick and intelligent. Far from a failure, they dominated the earth for 150 million years and suppressed the development of mammals. The theory presented was that birds are the direct descendants of small carnivorous dinosaurs. These dinosaurs had an advanced heart/lung system like modern birds and the theory was they were warm-blooded. Previously dinosaurs had been classified as reptiles, but scientific thought removes them from that category. The writer gives us some interesting bits about being a geeky boy obsessed with dinosaurs and later as a student of paleontology. He describes his travels in pursuit of a greater understanding of dinosaurs, and to excavation sites where new types of dinosaurs were being discovered. He has been criticized for name-dropping about his encounters and works with other leading paleontologists, but I found he wrote about them with respect, praising them highly and giving them credit for their theories and discoveries. I was impressed by how much the leading scientists in the field cooperate with one another. He relates his travels to China in the 1990s when the first small raptor dinosaur fossils were discovered with feathers, and with bone and lung structures which indicate they are the direct ancestors of birds. Further study has revealed that their feathers were brightly coloured and iridescent. They had not evolved for flight as yet. I saw a coloured illustration in the Smithsonian Magazine which showed a crow-sized dinosaur with a rainbow of shiny feathers. Its fossilized remains were found in China and the artistic reconstruction is quite beautiful. Recommended for readers interested in the history of the earth and past living creatures.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    An absolutely fascinating story of dinosaur life beginning at the end of the Permian and carrying through to modern day. This book was a pleasure to read and introduces a range of fantastic creatures, including dinosaurs so large their vertebrae were the size of bathtubs. It was incredible to immerse myself in a world of such size and breadth and to reflect on the resilience of the earth as it moves from the Permian to the present.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    What a fascinating and enlightening book. Well written, easy to read, and well, the characters are huge stars of the show. To me everyday is real important. What I eat, what I wear gets top priority. But let’s face it. In the scheme of time we are but a blip. I am in awe of the history the author tells. To put things in perspective, dinosaurs appeared and ruled the earth for over 250 mission years and their reign ended abruptly about 60 million years ago. Man walked erect 6 million years ago and What a fascinating and enlightening book. Well written, easy to read, and well, the characters are huge stars of the show. To me everyday is real important. What I eat, what I wear gets top priority. But let’s face it. In the scheme of time we are but a blip. I am in awe of the history the author tells. To put things in perspective, dinosaurs appeared and ruled the earth for over 250 mission years and their reign ended abruptly about 60 million years ago. Man walked erect 6 million years ago and the written word is about 5000 years old. The United States is only 243 years old. The author takes the reader around the world to remote locations to find dinosaur skeletons and geological manifestations that help to tell the history of of our environment. He works with leading scientists from China, Brazil, Scotland and the US to bring us the latest theories and facts about dinosaurs. For instance, they have discovered that some dinosaurs had colored hair like feathers that may have provided camouflage and that a T. Rex weighed about 12 tons, was as big as a city bus, consumed 500 lbs. of meat a day and traveled/hunted in packs. Did you know some birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs? I gave this book 5 stars and I highly recommend it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    The sheer enthusiasm and passion that this man has for his profession radiates off every page, and for that alone, I really enjoyed spending time with Brusatte's pet subject. He brings a lot of verve to what is a fairly specialized field of knowledge (I should say that this book assumes a certain amount of familiarity with various paleontological terminology, but I think it does a good job providing enough context for you to pick up what he's talking about as you go), and somehow makes prominent The sheer enthusiasm and passion that this man has for his profession radiates off every page, and for that alone, I really enjoyed spending time with Brusatte's pet subject. He brings a lot of verve to what is a fairly specialized field of knowledge (I should say that this book assumes a certain amount of familiarity with various paleontological terminology, but I think it does a good job providing enough context for you to pick up what he's talking about as you go), and somehow makes prominent paleontologists read like celebrities. I really enjoyed my time with this book, though it does get bogged down in some areas in a way that I think the very best popular science non-fiction does not. This also works well as a bunch of case studies for those interested in evolutionary biology, and I was very engaged by his discussion of how scientists figure out the evolutionary history of very species using comparisons to modern animals and good old deductive reasoning. All in all, definitely recommend!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    This book was great! It does exactly what the title promises and tells the entire history of the dinosaurs, all 200 million years of it, from the evolution of dinosauromorphs all the way through the asteroid impact that killed most of the dinosaurs off. It uses geology and taxonomy to show how dinos evolved on Pangaea, spread out, then slowly got separated and diverged as the continents split apart. It also introduces the reader to an amazing cast of people who study dinos, some from the past an This book was great! It does exactly what the title promises and tells the entire history of the dinosaurs, all 200 million years of it, from the evolution of dinosauromorphs all the way through the asteroid impact that killed most of the dinosaurs off. It uses geology and taxonomy to show how dinos evolved on Pangaea, spread out, then slowly got separated and diverged as the continents split apart. It also introduces the reader to an amazing cast of people who study dinos, some from the past and some that the author works with right now. I’ve always taken a sort of cursory interest in dinosaurs, as I love geology and evolution; when I travel I make a point to go to the local natural history museum, and always come home with some rocks. And yet my mental dino narrative went, “one day there were dinosaurs all over the Earth, just like boom,” or something to that effect. This book filled in all the gaps in my mental timeline. It also vividly portrayed the dinosaurs as living, breathing animals, part of many varied ecosystems, not just seemingly mythical creatures. And that vividness made me really, really sad when I got to the end. Even though I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing this review had that asteroid not hit, I mourned the loss of these amazing creatures. At least we still have one branch of them around as modern birds. Stephen Brusatte has a great voice and a terrific ability to describe things in nerdy yet completely accessible detail. If you have any interest in dinosaurs at all, I recommend this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    This book made me wish I was still a teacher. I could have built an entire unit around the information found in these chapters for all age groups. It can be simplified or really diversified for all abilities. I was especially taken with the relationship between birds and dinosaurs. I knew this was the case, but the arguments of evolution were so sound I don’t see how it could be debated. It was also immensely enjoyable to read about both old school Dinos like T Rex as well as new discoveries tha This book made me wish I was still a teacher. I could have built an entire unit around the information found in these chapters for all age groups. It can be simplified or really diversified for all abilities. I was especially taken with the relationship between birds and dinosaurs. I knew this was the case, but the arguments of evolution were so sound I don’t see how it could be debated. It was also immensely enjoyable to read about both old school Dinos like T Rex as well as new discoveries that I’m not even going to try to spell.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zachary F.

    Like many kids, I went through a major dinosaur phase. My bedroom was dinosaur-themed, I memorized a whole slew of lengthy Latinate species names with their corresponding attributes, and I toted around a humongous book of dinosaurs (entitled The Humongous Book of Dinosaurs ) until it was tattered and dog-eared. I'm not so obsessed now, but I still get excited when I imagine the fantastical menagerie of creatures that used to populate our planet, and I think it's kind of weird and sad that suc Like many kids, I went through a major dinosaur phase. My bedroom was dinosaur-themed, I memorized a whole slew of lengthy Latinate species names with their corresponding attributes, and I toted around a humongous book of dinosaurs (entitled The Humongous Book of Dinosaurs ) until it was tattered and dog-eared. I'm not so obsessed now, but I still get excited when I imagine the fantastical menagerie of creatures that used to populate our planet, and I think it's kind of weird and sad that such a rich topic is considered by most adults to be kids' stuff—as if anything which isn't directly relevant to human life today isn't worth thinking about at all. Naturally, when I saw this beautiful new book (for adults!) at the library where I work, I had to pick it up. It ended up being kind of an odd read, because, while the subject matter was consistently fascinating enough to keep me turning pages all the way through, I found the voice and personality of the author to be just as consistently grating. The result was a strange sort of cognitive dissonance which I guess is similar to what people mean when they talk about their "guilty pleasures": at no point did I feel like it was a waste of time or want to stop reading, but I also spent the whole thing half-annoyed and acutely aware of the stuff I didn't like. Let's cover the positives first. As an overview of 150 million years or more of dinosaur evolution, from their earliest emergence to their eventual extinction (or rather near-extinction, since, as Brusatte is at pains to point out, modern birds are the dinos' direct descendants), the book does exactly what it's supposed to. Once-hazy (for me) details about the prehistoric timeline, the evolutionary family tree, and the mechanics of extinction came into clearer focus, and there were a lot of great factoids and details I never learned (and which, for that matter, probably weren't even known yet) during my childhood dino phase. *** A few facts that stuck with me : 1) Brontosaurus is back to being a real dinosaur again (when I was a kid the consensus was that it wasn't), and there's little doubt now that a meteor/asteroid caused the Cretaceous extinction. (Back then you still heard that it was anyone's guess.) - 2) In addition to the many dinosaurs which we now know had feathered appendages, there was at least one which actually had membranous wings like a bat. A feathered, lizardlike creature with bat wings? Sounds like a dragon if ever there was one. (Even if it was only the size of a pigeon.) - 3) The dinosaurs first evolved when the supercontinent Pangea was more or less still in one piece, but by the time they died out tens of millions of years later the landmasses had drifted to almost their current positions. The geographically vague picture I think many of us have of the dinosaur age, with all the species living together in pretty much the same ecosystem, was basically reality in those early days, but later on when iconic dinos like T. Rex and triceratops were doing their thing there was just as much regional variation as with our modern animals. Those two species I just named actually lived exclusively in what's now western North America—in other words, even our conception of prehistoric megafauna has a serious U.S.-centric slant. (That's my own inference; Brusatte never delves into the sociopolitical implications.) In Europe, which during the Cretaceous was little more than a series of islands, there were actually miniature versions of all the bigger dinos running around instead! *** So for that kind of info, this book is great. Brusatte even frames each chapter with a discussion of the major fossil discoveries and paleontological work that allow us to know such things without having been there, which I think is almost essential when writing about animals who are understood exclusively from their fossilized bones and byproducts. But it's also in these sections where Brusatte's more irritating characteristics are on full display, so with that I'll pivot to the negative. There's this trend I've noticed in pop science books where the author will try to draw the reader in and "humanize" the subject matter with personal anecdotes: "Here's an interesting experience I had that was related to the science thing I'm about to talk about, so now you have a reason to care about it too." Brusatte does this constantly, but the simple truth is that most people picking up a book called The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs probably don't need a dull story about that time you looked at some cool rocks in Poland or the total rager of a paleontology conference (his enthusiasm, not mine) you attended in Brazil a decade ago in order to be interested in the giant, flesh-eating, bird/reptile hybrids you've promised to describe to us. It just distracts from the real meat of the book. Even worse, Brusatte is a chronic name-dropper. It's not enough simply to shout out his influential colleagues, he's got to delineate exactly what professional relationship he shares with each of them, how well they get along (spoiler: he's best friends with everyone in the field), and more often than not the critical role he himself played in shaping their major discoveries. He wants very much to paint paleontologists as a cool and quirky bunch, with a word about everyone's fashion sense and personal hobbies and a frat boy fascination with their drinking habits, but the unfortunate result is that most of these apparently-brilliant scientific professionals end up coming off as the sort of try-hard "characters" you'd do your best to avoid at a party. And that's just the men. Women, on the rare occasion they're mentioned at all, are glossed over almost without a remark, and never receive the same hagiography as their male colleagues. Brusatte certainly isn’t solely responsible for the exclusion of women from the sciences, but for someone so eager to position himself as a major voice for his field, he sure doesn’t seem to mind the disparity much. (And that's not even getting into the cringey racial/nationalistic comments, e.g. ". . . he seemed to be a little darker than most of the Poles I knew. Tanned, almost. There was something vaguely sinister about him. . .") Even when dealing with the dinos themselves, Brusatte's writing leaves something to be desired. He's definitely readable and competent at the sentence level, but his tone throughout the book is so breezy and so full of high-powered adjectives that at times I wondered if he wasn't sacrificing accuracy for cheap excitement. Probably the most overt example of this is when he describes a particular fossilized creature two different times as "mule-sized," only to include a photo which makes it clear the thing was hardly as big as a golden retriever. Maybe an innocent mistake, but a worrying one in a book that purports to be laying down hard scientific fact. What's more, he absolutely loves all that old-timey, imperialism-tinged language about the dinos conquering and colonizing and ruling over their domain, which reaches its zenith in the eye-rollingly effusive chapter about T. Rex ("What feast befits the King?" "Like so many monarchs, Rex was a glutton.") I know he's trying to appeal to a popular audience here, but it's still jarring to see that kind of lens applied so earnestly and uncritically in 2018. In the end, Brusatte puts me in a weird position. Given the dearth of up-to-date dinosaur writing for the adult layperson, I'm glad someone stepped up to fill the niche. I just wish the someone in question had been, you know, anyone other than the guy who ended up doing it. My hope is that the success of this book will inspire a wave of new releases on prehistoric life. Until then I'll recommend Brusatte’s, but only with a long list of caveats.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Stewart

    It’s not easy to put scientists’ current understanding of the whole dinosaur world into perspective, but this book accomplishes that feat beautifully. The narrative writing style is so friendly and accessible that readers can sit back and enjoy the ride as Brusatte takes us on a captivating chronological tour of the Mesozoic—the Age of Reptiles—beginning about 250 million years ago and ending 66 million years ago with the famous asteroid (or comet) impact that wiped out all the dinosaurs except It’s not easy to put scientists’ current understanding of the whole dinosaur world into perspective, but this book accomplishes that feat beautifully. The narrative writing style is so friendly and accessible that readers can sit back and enjoy the ride as Brusatte takes us on a captivating chronological tour of the Mesozoic—the Age of Reptiles—beginning about 250 million years ago and ending 66 million years ago with the famous asteroid (or comet) impact that wiped out all the dinosaurs except birds. I enjoyed learning about the dinosauromorphs—dinosaur-like reptiles that lived at the same time as early dinosaurs but are not considered part of the group. At one time, scientists used a half dozen anatomical traits to differentiate the two groups, but recent fossil finds suggest that the line between the two groups is extremely blurry. I was also interested in the discussion of carcharodontosaurs—ferocious carnivorous dinosaurs that had their heyday before tyrannosaurs rose to power. Not surprisingly, my favorite chapter focused on the mighty T. rex. It began with a dramatic narrative hunting scene and then highlighted how the work of scientists—men and women—from around the world has contributed to our understanding the mighty beast. The descriptions of recent cutting-edge techniques were especially vibrant and fascinating. The chapter about how the world changed following the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs (except birds) really puts the reader in the middle of the action. The carefully crafted you-are-there scene setting gave me a strong sense of what Earth was like and how horrible it would have been to experience it. I also enjoyed reading what we know about the transition from dinosaurs to modern day birds. Throughout the text, Brusatte includes engaging personal anecdotes that give readers a flavor of what life as a paleontologist is like. My favorites described some of the discoveries he and his colleagues have made in the field, such as recognizing a sauropod trackway on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and unearthing a trio of Triceratops (playfully named Homer, Bart, and Lisa after the “Simpsons” characters) at Hell Creek in Montana. Traditionally, paleontology has been a white, male world, and this book accurately represents that. But I was glad to see that Brusatte balances those sections by repeatedly drawing attention to the important work of female colleagues as well as the contributions of a diverse array of scientists from around the world. Finally, I appreciated Brusatte’s ability to poke fun at himself. One of my favorite narrative sections recounts how, as a teenager, he had the audacity to cold call Walter Alvarez—one of the world’s leading paleontologists. Amazingly, Alvarez took the call! Many years later, when Brusatte met his idol, Alvarez remembered speaking with him. Scenes like this helped me connect with the author and understand (and admire) the depth of his passion and enthusiasm for dinosaurs.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    And easily accessible but deeply informative book about how the Dinosaurs rose to prominence, why they stayed there for so long, and why they vanished (well, "vanished", since birds are still around). along the way I learned a ton about the sort of cutting edge technology and techniques modern paleontologists use to deepen our understanding of these amazing creatures. It intersperses history nicely to give context for how this field developed and some of our earlier misunderstandings about dinos And easily accessible but deeply informative book about how the Dinosaurs rose to prominence, why they stayed there for so long, and why they vanished (well, "vanished", since birds are still around). along the way I learned a ton about the sort of cutting edge technology and techniques modern paleontologists use to deepen our understanding of these amazing creatures. It intersperses history nicely to give context for how this field developed and some of our earlier misunderstandings about dinosaurs. Great for a dino lover or someone just looking to learn more.

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