cover image The Monster’s Bones: The Discovery of T. Rex and How It Shook Our World

The Monster’s Bones: The Discovery of T. Rex and How It Shook Our World

David K. Randall. Norton, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-324-00653-4

Reuters reporter Randall (Black Death at the Golden Gate) chronicles the fossil-hunting exploits of Barnum Brown (1873–1963) in this colorful adventure saga. Hailed as “the Father of the Dinosaurs” in his New York Times obituary, Brown discovered his first fossils in coal deposits his father dug up on the family’s Kansas farm. His uncanny knack for finding the mineral-preserved remains of ancient creatures eventually landed him a job working for paleontologist and railroad scion Henry Fairfield Osborn, who was leading the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. Randall takes note of how Osborn’s racist and eugenicist beliefs intertwined with his overweening ambition, but the focus is on Brown, who most famously discovered and excavated the first documented tyrannosaurus rex remains in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation. Randall draws on Brown’s unpublished memoirs and biographies by his daughter, Frances, and second wife, Lilian, to draw a multidimensional portrait of the paleontologist, and astutely analyzes the T. rex’s place in popular culture while maintaining that the most important lesson to be learned from the dinosaur’s “fearsome reign” on Earth may be that “the climate always wins.” Paleontology buffs will thrill to this vibrant, treasure-filled account. (June)