Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds

John Pickrell. Columbia Univ, $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-231-17178-6
Science journalist Pickrell gathers up the multiple strands of evidence that show how birds are the evolutionary descendants of extinct dinosaurs, laying out the facts in accessible, straightforward prose. With a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils primarily coming from China and Mongolia since the mid-1990s, our understanding and image of dinosaurs have changed dramatically. As Pickrell explains it, dinosaurs were not all the scaly, drab-colored, cold-blooded reptiles that they are so often presented as. Instead, many were festooned with feathers, often in striking patterns and colors. Pickrell aptly demonstrates how scientists determined that feathers were present, what color they likely were, and how they were used behaviorally. We learn that the evidence strongly suggests that many dinosaurs were warm-blooded animals that cared for their young, likely using early feathers as insulation and as mating displays. As dinosaurs first developed the ability to glide and then to fly, their brains became significantly more advanced, thus enabling them to process more complex information. Pickrell also describes both the black market in dinosaur fossils and the production and trade in fossil hoaxes. After digesting all that Pickrell has to offer, it will be difficult for any reader to think about dinosaurs—or birds—in the same ways they had before. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-74223-366-6
Open Ebook - 978-1-322-37234-1
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-231-53878-7
Ebook - 251 pages - 978-1-74224-682-6
Ebook - 252 pages - 978-1-74224-176-0
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