The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries: Amazing Fossils and the People Who Found Them

Donald R. Prothero. Columbia Univ., $35 (488p) ISBN 978-0-231-18602-5
Prothero (The Story of Life in 25 Fossils), a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, delivers another winning popular science book. Each of the 25 chapters “focuses on a particular discovery or genus or specimen of scientific and historical significance,” and offers details about their discoverers, along with a comparison of what was initially thought about them, and what is believed today. That contrast in the state of paleontological knowledge is vividly presented, for example, in illustrations depicting how dinosaurs were thought to have looked, and how their skeletons were initially displayed in museums. Prothero maintains a pleasingly light touch, as when he highlights an 18th-century scientist’s mistaking the knee end of a megalosaurus thighbone for the fossilized scrotum from a giant human. He also leavens technical discussions, such as concerning species categorization or naming, with descriptions of the—sometimes all-too-human—personalities who moved science forward, such as the late-19th-century dinosaur hunters Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh, bitter rivals whose respective crews interfered with and even threw rocks at each other on digs in the Southwestern U.S. Thanks to this mix of erudition and storytelling skills, dinosaur buffs will be delighted, fascinated, and entertained. (July)
Reviewed on : 05/28/2019
Release date: 07/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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