Why Dinosaurs Matter
What can long-dead dinosaurs teach us about our future? Plenty, according to paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, who has discovered some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth.By tapping into the ubiquitous wonder that dinosaurs inspire, Lacovara weaves together the stories of our geological awakening, of humanity’s epic struggle to understand the nature of deep time, the meaning of fossils, and our own place on the vast and bountiful tree of life.Go on a journey––back to when dinosaurs ruled the Earth––to discover how dinosaurs achieved feats unparalleled by any other group of animals. Learn the secrets of how paleontologists find fossils, and explore quirky, but profound questions, such as: Is a penguin a dinosaur? And, how are the tiny arms of T. rex the key to its power and ferocity?In this revealing book, Lacovara offers the latest ideas about the shocking and calamitous death of the dinosaurs and ties their vulnerabilities to our own. Why Dinosaurs Matter is compelling and engaging—a great reminder that our place on this planet is both precarious and potentially fleeting. “As we move into an uncertain environmental future, it has never been more important to understand the past.”

Why Dinosaurs Matter Details

TitleWhy Dinosaurs Matter
Author
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherSimon Schuster/ TED
ISBN-139781501120107
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Science, Geology, Palaeontology, Environment, Nature, History

Why Dinosaurs Matter Review

  • Brice Fuqua
    January 1, 1970
    Dinosaurs did not become extinct 65 million years ago. They are still around today. No, there is not a herd of Triceratops grazing in a remote Himalayan valley, nor are there Velociraptors hidden away in a top-secret government base. Dinosaurs are probably in your back yard, perching in tree branch. Birds are modern-day dinosaurs. Such is the claim made by paleontologist, Kenneth Lacovara in his book, Why Dinosaurs Matter. And he is in a position to know. Lacovara is best known for discovering Dinosaurs did not become extinct 65 million years ago. They are still around today. No, there is not a herd of Triceratops grazing in a remote Himalayan valley, nor are there Velociraptors hidden away in a top-secret government base. Dinosaurs are probably in your back yard, perching in tree branch. Birds are modern-day dinosaurs. Such is the claim made by paleontologist, Kenneth Lacovara in his book, Why Dinosaurs Matter. And he is in a position to know. Lacovara is best known for discovering and excavating Dreadnoughtus, one of the largest dinosaur fossils yet found.Lacovara is a popular TED Talks speaker, and this book is an extension of his video lectures. Like the TED videos, each chapter is short and focused on a single idea. He defends his startling assertion that bird are dinosaurs by pointing to their anatomy. Birds have the same hip bone structure as all dinosaurs, something that crocodiles do not have . So, although it defies common sense, a penguin is more dinosaur-like than a crocodile. Another myth that Lacovara explodes is the idea that dinosaurs were stupid, sluggish, brutes whose extinction was due to their inability to adapt to the gradual change in Earth’s climate. The author presents evidence that dinosaurs were, in fact, intelligent. Many were quite speedy and they managed to colonize every continent on Earth. In the book’s most dramatic chapter, Lacovara argues that the dinosaurs’ undoing was the result of a freak event; a giant meteorite impact off the Yucatan coast. This explosion so radically altered the climate that 75% of all land animal species perished. But the warm-blooded, feather-insulated bird ancestors hung on after their cold-blooded brethren died off, thus preserving dinosaurs in the form of avians. The chapter on Lacovara’s discovery of Dreadnoughtus is also fascinating. Located in an isolated valley in Patagonia, the Dreadnoughtus fossils proved to be so gigantic that it took four years to excavate and transport them. At one point, Lacovara invited an archeologist to visit the excavation site, where she immediately found two prehistoric hand axes. Lacovara, untrained in archeology had walked past the axes hundreds of times without realizing what they were. Why Dinosaurs Matter concludes on a melancholy note. Lacovara points out that species today are disappearing at a faster rate than they did at the end of the Cretaceous period. This is, of course, because of human activity. Climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and other factors are leading us into another mass extinction event. However, unlike previous extinctions, we humans have the power to halt it. Why Dinosaurs Matter is a fun, engaging introduction into an always popular subject. This volume would make an excellent addition to middle and high school libraries.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Why Dinosaurs Matter is an immensely readable book. Dr. Kenneth Lacovara writes in an engaging, conversational style that holds your interest from the first sentence ("Albert Einstein was a complete and utter failure." - what???) to the last ("Maybe we can be like the dinosaurs... the adaptable champions of an era.").While he defends dinosaurs as "champions of [their] era," his main point is that we can learn from them. His explanation of the slow "discovery" of deep time and evolution is fascin Why Dinosaurs Matter is an immensely readable book. Dr. Kenneth Lacovara writes in an engaging, conversational style that holds your interest from the first sentence ("Albert Einstein was a complete and utter failure." - what???) to the last ("Maybe we can be like the dinosaurs... the adaptable champions of an era.").While he defends dinosaurs as "champions of [their] era," his main point is that we can learn from them. His explanation of the slow "discovery" of deep time and evolution is fascinating. Which one of these is a dinosaur: a mosasaur; a pterosaur; a crocodile; or a penguin? The answer is an understandable lesson in evolution. Why does T. rex have such short arms? Read the chapter on "The King" to find out.Chapter by chapter, Dr. Lacovara shares his love of paleontology and encourages us to love it, too. His chapter, Dinosaur Apocalypse, is both riveting and moving, but it is the final chapter that really explains why dinosaurs matter. Dinosaurs didn't see their end coming. There was nothing they could have done to alter their fate. Humans, on the other hand, are ushering in their own demise. We can see how we are damaging the environment and we have a choice to change things. Will we create the sixth mass extinction, or learn from the past? You really should read this book!
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  • Kathi
    January 1, 1970
    The father of geology, James Hutton, observed that the past is the key to the future. Much like a modern-day Hutton, Dr. Ken Lacovara takes us on a journey to the ancient past when dinosaurs ruled the land to understand the valuable lessons their evolution and their almost complete extinction can teach about mitigating the Sixth Extinction toward which we are blindly hurtling. Dr. Lacovara writes with clarity, passion and humor to engage us in the exciting path geologists and paleontologists tra The father of geology, James Hutton, observed that the past is the key to the future. Much like a modern-day Hutton, Dr. Ken Lacovara takes us on a journey to the ancient past when dinosaurs ruled the land to understand the valuable lessons their evolution and their almost complete extinction can teach about mitigating the Sixth Extinction toward which we are blindly hurtling. Dr. Lacovara writes with clarity, passion and humor to engage us in the exciting path geologists and paleontologists travel to unearth and understand the reign and demise of these rulers of the Mesozoic. He paints a portrait not of lumbering, swamp-bound behemoths ill equipped to cope with a changing world, but rather of vibrant ecosystems where dinosaurs dominated almost every niche with staggering efficiency. After reading Why Dinosaurs Matter, you will never again use “Dinosaur” as a pejorative – they ruled the Earth for over 165 million years, compared to the mere 200,000 years of human existence. Their fate was sealed by an asteroid that they did not see coming and could not stop. Dr. Lacovara poignantly illustrates that humankind has the ability to stave off our own extinction, if we can just learn the lessons of the past.
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  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this look at the history of dinosaurs, our relationship to them, and why they matter.
  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 19th September 2017The idea of this book is pretty much encapsulated in the words from the summary: “What can long-dead dinosaurs teach us about our future? Plenty.” It’s the story of the dinosaurs as a highly successfully set of creatures who ruled the world — for a time. It’s also the story of their decline and fall, so to speak, and the lessons we can learn from them. Also, a reminder that a penguin is very literally a dinosaur, just as we’re Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 19th September 2017The idea of this book is pretty much encapsulated in the words from the summary: “What can long-dead dinosaurs teach us about our future? Plenty.” It’s the story of the dinosaurs as a highly successfully set of creatures who ruled the world — for a time. It’s also the story of their decline and fall, so to speak, and the lessons we can learn from them. Also, a reminder that a penguin is very literally a dinosaur, just as we’re very literally primates.There’s nothing revelatory here if you’re into dinosaurs, but if you’re looking for something more general than David Hone’s The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, something to get you up to date on current dinosaur scholarship, this isn’t a bad place to start. And I agree with Lacovara: dinosaurs shouldn’t be viewed as synonymous with something obsolete. They ruled the world for a reason.Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.
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  • Laura Lamkin
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I loved it so much I read it twice. Sure, I was a dinosaur fan as a kid, and it appealed right away to the dino-loving little boy within. But I have also read a whole lot of science as an adult. I did not expect to get anything new out of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I learned many new things, details and facts for sure, but also broader, more conceptual points. The author uses geologic and paleontological data and science, interesting in and of itself, to introd I loved this book. I loved it so much I read it twice. Sure, I was a dinosaur fan as a kid, and it appealed right away to the dino-loving little boy within. But I have also read a whole lot of science as an adult. I did not expect to get anything new out of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I learned many new things, details and facts for sure, but also broader, more conceptual points. The author uses geologic and paleontological data and science, interesting in and of itself, to introduce more abstract and over-arching points that are both wise and of compelling importance to our understanding of humanity and our place in the world.Why Dinosaurs Matter is a scholarly work, while also being entertaining, the finest of combos. In addition to being informative about paleontology and geology, Mr. Lacovara’s work brings important insights to the fore, such as the implications of understanding deep time for humanity’s understanding of the nature of our planet, of life, of human nature, of our own self-conception, and why all of this matters. Not only did I learn interesting facts about dinosaurs, my favorite having to do with T-Rex’s comically miniaturized forelimbs, but the work served to shatter misconceptions, and to push the discussion of dinosaurs to deeper, more profound, conceptual levels.So, the content is excellent, but also the form. Author Kenneth Lacovara, who narrates the work himself, does a great job. His writing demonstrates not only his obvious professional grasp of the material, but also a playfulness, an enjoyment of wordplay, and an appreciation of language. At the same time, his narration embodies an enthusiasm for the subject matter which is entirely infectious. He even manages to make Hadrosaur digestion sound cool!I highly recommend Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovaran!
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  • JDL Wahaha
    January 1, 1970
    Hmm, I listened to the audiobook 3 times and fell asleep during the first two play lol. Let's see, he said Einstein is a failure because he's dead. Penguins are dinosaurs. Human were fish. Hmm... something about teeth. Hmm... He is really enthusiastic about his experience and findings and I think it's really nice. It certainly took me to a different view on dinosaur bones and some big words I didn't really understand. This is my second audiobook. I think I'm more of visual person because I tend Hmm, I listened to the audiobook 3 times and fell asleep during the first two play lol. Let's see, he said Einstein is a failure because he's dead. Penguins are dinosaurs. Human were fish. Hmm... something about teeth. Hmm... He is really enthusiastic about his experience and findings and I think it's really nice. It certainly took me to a different view on dinosaur bones and some big words I didn't really understand. This is my second audiobook. I think I'm more of visual person because I tend to forget what was brought up earlier and kept being distracted by the surroundings. The content is not so bad i guess (if i'm more awake during the talk).
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  • Guy Winch
    January 1, 1970
    Why Dinosaurs Matter Ken Lacovara's new book, 'Why Dinosaurs Matter' had me at the opening line:"Albert Einstein was a complete and utter failure." This fascinating book will give you a new way to think about dinosaurs and an appreciation of why they are very much relevant to our lives today. Anyone who loves science and stories of discovery will be thoroughly entertained by the wonderful behind-the-scenes insights and beautiful prose. I absolutely loved it.
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  • Alex Yard
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, which can be found on RunSpotRun.com.In essence, this book is not all that worth your time. Some interesting factoids, but it sort of reads like some online science articles. Some of the more fascinating moments involve deep time, age of the earth in general and evolutionary processes that aren't specific to dinosaurs, which made the focus feel unfocused.
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  • Corinna Bechko
    January 1, 1970
    Delightful.
  • Judi
    January 1, 1970
    Exceptionally well-written and engrossing - brings ideas together about dinosaurs that I hadn't connected previously.
  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    Too general for my taste. This is not for dinosaur aficionados, but rather for the curious bystander.
  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    Dinosaurs, long considered to belong to childhood fantasy, finally get their due consideration in this delightful book. Lacovara describes our relationship with these adaptable creatures throughout history with humor, knowledge, and deft word play. Written for an adult audience, the book explores our continuing fascination with dinosaurs and how much we have to learn from them. Although commonly misunderstood as dull, lumbering failures of evolutionary history, Lacovara convinces us of their vit Dinosaurs, long considered to belong to childhood fantasy, finally get their due consideration in this delightful book. Lacovara describes our relationship with these adaptable creatures throughout history with humor, knowledge, and deft word play. Written for an adult audience, the book explores our continuing fascination with dinosaurs and how much we have to learn from them. Although commonly misunderstood as dull, lumbering failures of evolutionary history, Lacovara convinces us of their vitality, adaptability, and global domination over millions of years of earth’s history and shows us how our fate might be linked to that of these wondrous creatures.
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  • Russell Sarkis
    January 1, 1970
    Dr. Lacovara expertly takes us on a wonderful journey through deep time where we see dinosaurs as more than just extinct bone statues from long ago but the most diverse and dynamic creatures to have ever existed. Along the way we learn this diversity is no accident. Time and natural selection gives every aspect of every creature a purpose. We also learn that we as humans are not observers of this journey but part of it. We are all part of this planet and by looking to the past and the success an Dr. Lacovara expertly takes us on a wonderful journey through deep time where we see dinosaurs as more than just extinct bone statues from long ago but the most diverse and dynamic creatures to have ever existed. Along the way we learn this diversity is no accident. Time and natural selection gives every aspect of every creature a purpose. We also learn that we as humans are not observers of this journey but part of it. We are all part of this planet and by looking to the past and the success and ultimate peril of the dinosaurs we can learn about ourselves, our planet and our future.
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