My Beloved Brontosaurus
On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs
A Hudson Booksellers Staff Pick for the Best Books of 2013
One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Spring Science Books
A Bookshop Santa Cruz Staff Pick
Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones.
Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex's feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book's titular hero, "Brontosaurus"—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.)
With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we've long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.
In this revealing work of pop paleontology, Switek (Written in Stone) travels across America to visit dinosaur fossils, but don't let the subtitle and descriptions of stunning scenery and trips down gravel roads mislead you this isn't really a travelogue: each stop serves as but a jumping-off point for an examination of our changing understanding of dinosaurs. As a child, Switek learned that his beloved Brontosaurus had been denounced as a distinct species and relabeled Apatosaurus; in the course of his travels, he learns that other dinosaurs have met a similar fate but he doesn't see this as something to be mourned. In fact, it's proof of the great strides being made in the science of dinos. Along the way, Switek describes a host of colorful characters, including Heinrich Mallison, who uses digital modeling software to figure out how certain dinosaurs particularly the troublingly spiky-tailed Kentrosaurus had sex. He also demonstrates that contrary to the relatively dowdy dinos of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, new science suggests many were feathered, and colorfully at that. Engaging and accessible enough for the lay person, readers will readily agree when Switek concludes that "dinosaurs are better than ever." Photos & illus.
Fascinating update of the science behind dinosaurs
This is an interesting and highly readable description of the scientific discoveries behind dinosaur's lives, the way they looked, laid eggs and even the maladies that affected them based on fossil evidence. A must for people who like dinosaurs.