The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs Details

TitleThe Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Author
ReleaseApr 24th, 2018
PublisherWilliam Morrow
ISBN-139780062490452
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, History, Animals, Dinosaurs, Environment, Nature, Geology, Palaeontology

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs Review

  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    Image from the Smithsonian Hope A Tyrannosaurus Rex is a thing with feathers. ----- Emily Dickinson Steve Brusatte Wait, what? You’re kidding, right? Say it ain’t so. Well, there is some disagreement about this among paleontologists, but, according to Steve Brusatte, while they may not have matched up to Marc Bolan in a boa, and the feathers in question were maybe more like porcupine quills than the fluffy sort of plumage one might find on, say, an ostrich, those things poking out of the T. rex Image from the Smithsonian Hope A Tyrannosaurus Rex is a thing with feathers. ----- Emily Dickinson Steve Brusatte Wait, what? You’re kidding, right? Say it ain’t so. Well, there is some disagreement about this among paleontologists, but, according to Steve Brusatte, while they may not have matched up to Marc Bolan in a boa, and the feathers in question were maybe more like porcupine quills than the fluffy sort of plumage one might find on, say, an ostrich, those things poking out of the T. rex’s body were indeed feathers. And if you think the notion of a 40-foot, seven-ton eating machine, with ginormous, dagger-like, railroad-spike-size teeth bearing down on you, is scary, consider this. They travelled in packs. Sweet dreams! I have to confess that after reading this chapter, I did indeed have at least one dream that night that included multiple representatives of the T. Rex family. Not a wonderful image to induce one back to the land of Nod, after having bolted suddenly upright from REM sleep in fight-or-FLIGHT mode. Hello, lunch - Image from The Real T-Rex BBC special – this one from the MirrorBut I promise, not all the revelations in The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will make you reach for some extra alcoholic or pharmaceutical sleep inducement. What we know about dinosaurs has continued to evolve, at an accelerating rate. Some revelations in the book are surprising and delightful, like the fact that new dinosaur species are being discovered at the rate of about one a week, and that this has been going on a while. There is a lot of catching up to be done since we mastered the basic few, Triceratops, T-Rex, Brontosaurus, Archaeopteryx, Stegasaurus, Dimetrodon, and the usual gang of idiots. Much bigger gang to keep track of these days. [I strongly urge you to check out Brusatte’s U of Edinburgh lecture, linked in EXTRA STUFF, for some very decisively feathered other members of the T. rex family. Fluffy indeed!] Steve Brusatte - looking for Triassic vertebrate footprints in a quarry in Poland – image from palaeocast.com (Sorry, dear. I could have sworn I dropped the engagement ring right here!)Dinosaurs had a pretty long reign as kings/queens of the hill, but they had to begin sometime. Once upon a time all the land was one, linked from north to south, called Pangea. Monster monsoons raked much of the Earth, blistering heat, deserts, jungles, except of course at the poles, which were relatively balmy. This time, from about 300 to about 250 million years ago (mya) is called The Permian Period. Then, boys and girls, the earth split a seam. All that hot material that is constantly coursing through the earth found a way out and spewed forth. Not a good time to be an earthling. It is referred to as The Permian Extinction. 90% of all life was wiped out, by lava flows, fire, global warming, airborne particles blocking the sun, and thus a dramatic, if temporary end to photosynthesis, which killed off most plant life. And the ensuing acidification of water did seriously unpleasant things to aqueous life. But, after things settled down again, which took a while, a new class of critters came to dominate, dinosaurs. Yay! From Pangea to now – image from LiveScience.comThe Permian period was followed by the Triassic, from 250 to 200 mya, fifty million years of nature gone wild (I have that videotape in the attic, I think). Over the course of the Triassic, things on the land started to look like the world we know today. But the continents would have to drift for many millions of years yet before they would resemble our current landmass configuration. The first true dinos showed up around 230 to 240 mya. But they did not have the planet to themselves. There were reptiles, fish, birds, insects, even mammals, small ones around at the time.Metoposaurus, Kermit’s g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandma, was an amphibian the size of a Buick, with a coffee-table-sized head, and, unlike those little critters you had to work with in bio lab, these pups had hundreds of very sharp teeth. It hung out by water’s edge to capture anything straying too close. Mostly fish, but watch your ankles.There is interesting material in here about what came before the dinosaurs, (dinosauromorphs, yes, really) and where the line is drawn (arbitrarily) between dino and pre-dino. You, here, you, over there. Like Middle East borders. Brusatte walks us through the timeline of the dinos, from conditions being established at the end of the Permian, their arrival in the Triassic, to their sudden farewell at the end of the Cretaceous. Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous. Go ahead, repeat that a few times. It’s the sequence of periods Brusatte covers here. The first three come in at around 50 million years each, with the Cretaceous hanging on for about 80. The last three, taken together, comprise what is known as the Mesozoic Era, aka The Age of the Dinosaurs. (Which makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t it be The Era of the Dinosaurs? Or the Mesozoic Age? It’s so confusing.) He shows what changed geologically, and how the changes allowed this or that lifeform to arise. (often by wiping out the competition). He also takes us along with him to dig sites around the planet, Scotland, Portugal, Poland, The American Southwest, South America, China, and more, and introduces us to some of the foremost scientists in the field.The characters in Brusatte’s tale are not all of the ancient sort. He populates each chapter with modern specimens notable for their diversity and sometimes colorful plumage. While they may all be brilliant scientists, many could easily be classified as Anates Impar. It would not be a huge stretch to imagine them populating a nerdish Cantina scene. Here are Brusatte’s description of three of them. There are many more. You can spot Thomas [Carr, now a professor at Wisconsin’s Carthage College] from a mile away. He has the fashion sense of a 1970s preacher and some of the mannerisms of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Thomas always wears black velvet suits, usually with a black or dark red shirt underneath. He has long bushy sideburns and a mop of light hair. A silver skull ring adorns his hand. He’s easily consumed by things and has a long-running obsession with absinthe and the Doors. That and tyrannosaurs.Thomas Carr - image from his Twitter pageBaron Franz Nopcsa von Felso-Szilvas…was literally an aristocrat who dug up dinosaur bones. He seems like the invention of a mad novelist, a character so outlandish, so ridiculous, that he must be a trick of fiction. But he was very real—a flamboyant dandy and a tragic genius, whose exploits hunting dinosaurs in Transylvania were brief respites from the insanity of the rest of his life…[he had] expertise in espionage, linguistics, cultural anthropology, paleontology, motorbiking, [geology, and god knows what else].The Baron - image from Albanianphotograpy.comJingmai [O’Connor] calls herself a Paleontologista—fitting given her fashionista style of leopard-print Lycra, piercings, and tattoos, all of which are at home in the club but stand out (in a good way) among the plaid-and-beard crowd that dominates academia…she’s also the world’s number-one expert on those first birds that broke the bounds of Earth to fly above their dinosaur ancestors.Jingmai O’Connor - image from her Twitter pageBrusatte also shamelessly namedrops every A-list paleontologist he has encountered. Of course, it sounds like those encounters were substantial, so I guess it’s ok, but… I was reminded a bit of Bill Clinton’s memoir, in which it seemed that every person he mentioned had either changed his life or was a close personal friend. In a way, the book constitutes a this-is-your-life look at Brusatte’s paleontology career (boy meets bone?), with appearances by many of the people he had learned from or worked with. (they are legion) In addition to the studies mentioned in the book, he is the author of a widely taught textbook, Dinosaur Paleobiology. He is the paleo expert in residence on Walking with Dinosaurs (so much better than the sequel, Fleeing from Dinosaurs) on the BBC. One of the things that has allowed modern paleontologists to make and continue to make ground-breaking discoveries about Earth’s former tenants is the major advance in technology at their disposal. It’s a lot easier, for example, to see inside a fossilized skull to measure the size and shape of internal cavities with the help of a CT scanner than it was before they were available.A new dinosaur, feathered, winged Zhenyuanlong from China - image from The ConversationYou will learn some fascinating new information about dinos, some of it startling. This includes how sauropods managed those looooooong necks, why wild diversification happened when it did, why it took dinosaurs as long as it did to get large and take over. There is a fascinating bit on how some dinosaurs can pack an extra punch by getting air while they breathe in and out, surprising intel on how some of the critters you thought were dinosaurs aren’t, and directions on where you can look to see actual living dinosaurs today. He punctures some of the notions from the Jurassic Park movies. If trapped by a T-Rex, for instance, do not remain motionless. Rex has binocular vision and can see you perfectly well, whether you are sitting down in a port-o-san or hiding in or under a vehicle. Wave buh-bye.If you do not know what this is from you need to get out moreSpeaking of un-fond farewells, Brusatte take us up to and through the biggest bang of them all, on Earth anyway, 66 mya. His description of the horror that marked the end of the dinosaurs is graphic, and disturbing. It was the worst day in the history of our planet. A few hours of unimaginable violence that undid more than 150 million years of evolution and set life on a new course. T. rex was there to see it. Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Oh, shitArtwork by Donald E. DavisBrusatte has written an eminently readable pop-science history of the dinosaurs, with accessible info on geology, biology, and the work of paleontologists, who are laboring tirelessly (and maybe obsessively) to find out the answers to questions that are as old as humanity’s awareness of the erstwhile inhabitants of our planet. This is one of those books that should be in every household. You do not need to be a scientist to get a lot out of it. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, bubbling with the enthusiasm of its author, will be an enjoyable and enlightening read for homo sapiens of all ages from pre-teen through fossil. Learning more about Earth’s illustrious, impressive, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes adorable former tenants never gets old. Really, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?Review posted – April 13, 2018Publication date – April 24, 2018=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal and Twitter pagesEpisode 37 of Palaeocast features Steve talking about Therapods and Birds - December 1, 2014 – 44:00A presentation by Brusatte, who is a wonderful speaker, on Tyrannosaur Discoveries, at the U of Edinburgh – Watch this, really. Great stuff. In the above, Brusatte talks about feathered dinos, among other things. Meet Yutyrannus huali, (artist’s interpretation) a feathered tyrannosaur from China (but you can call him Fluffy) – image from The ConversationA fun article from the BBC - Legendary dinosaurs that we all imagine completely wrong - By Josh Gabbatiss - 3/21/16NY Times – April 4, 2018 - Brusatte is keeping busy, publishing, with his team, a new study about the presence of dinos in Scotland, specifically in the Isle of Skye. In Footprints on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, Signs of a Dinosaur Playground - by Nicholas St. FleurThis image of a sauropod print accompanied the above article – from the University of EdinburghAn interesting lecture (33 minutes) on how paleontologists research dinosaurian social behavior and what they have found - Social Behaviour in Dinosaurs - with David Hone Hone's delivery has a sing-song rhythm that can be a bit soporific, but the content is fascinating. Of particular interest is the basis for juvenile clustering.May, 2018 - Smithsonian Magazine - So much is going on in China, paleontologically, not all of it wonderful, as wonderful new resources are found and explored - The Great Chinese Dinosaur Boom - by Richard ConniffThis cluster of dinosaur egg fossils, on display at the Tianyu Museum, dates back 70 million years to the late Cretaceous era - shot by Stefen Chow - text and image from above articleIt reminds me of that scene in the first Alien film when they discover the nesting site-----May 29, 2018 - Check out Ira Flatow's effervescent review in the NY Times - When the Dinosaurs Reigned-----June 2, 2018 - National Geographic - Wonderful, informative interview with Brusatte by Simon Worrall - Why Today is the Golden Age for Dinosaur Discoveries================================STUFFINGIf you are one of those for whom the reference did not bang a gong, Marc Bolan was the leader of a band named T.Rex. He was one of the progenitors of what was called Glam Rock.Anates Impar - really? You could not do a Google translate? It means Odd Ducks, ok. Sheesh. Really, don’t make me explain everything again, or I’ll have to take points off your final grade. And if you do not know what “the Cantina scene” is, look it up or don’t come back. Yes, now. Run!This flamboyantly feathered Rex image is from Deviant Art – Yeah, I doubt it looked like this too, but a fun image I wanted to shareFull disclosure: - Ok, I stole the final line of the review from my illustrious book goddess. I only steal from the best. Thank you, dearest.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the parts about dinosaurs. Fun facts, history, evidence and speculation on behavior, recent discoveries, distribution as the continents divided and spread out. It's a compact assessable update on dinosaurs large and small. Oh, just another coelophysis, no this is something new!I tuned out the sections of the author's personal experience. I wasn't interested. Based on other GR reviews, that's probably for the best.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Another ambivalent three stars for a book that has two strands of highly varying success in my opinion.The good part of the book is the clear and vivid writing about dinosaurs. I particularly liked learning new things about dinosaur-like creatures that lived among them but happen to fall outside the classification, and reasons why dinosaurs could evolve to be absolutely gigantic (those big sauropods) or fly. I liked reading about the nomenclature of new and unusual finds (it's not all Latin anym Another ambivalent three stars for a book that has two strands of highly varying success in my opinion.The good part of the book is the clear and vivid writing about dinosaurs. I particularly liked learning new things about dinosaur-like creatures that lived among them but happen to fall outside the classification, and reasons why dinosaurs could evolve to be absolutely gigantic (those big sauropods) or fly. I liked reading about the nomenclature of new and unusual finds (it's not all Latin anymore). The section on the immediate aftermath of the asteroid strike is gripping and horrifying. ("But what fell from the sky was not water. It was beads of glass and chunks of rock, each one scalding hot." [loc. 3428])The bad part is the writing about the author's personal experiences as he grew from an annoying, precocious teen (which he freely admits he was) into a working paleontologist. Frankly he comes off as more than a little self-satisfied--a sighting of the Jerkus brillianticus, if you will. His mentors and collaborators are uniformly amazing and brilliant and are described in a way that makes nearly all of them sound dull and interchangeable, an endless parade of brilliant bearded dudes drinking beer in exotic locales that are mainly described in terms of their nattering locals and unpleasant weather. (If you think I've used the word "brilliant" a lot in this paragraph, you won't believe this book!) Though he names several women paleontologists in these pages, he rarely seems to work with any of them, and notes with apparent enjoyment crass jokes at bars and commentary about their physiques from a speaker at an international conference. The personal recollections strike a disagreeable note that undercuts one of the goals of the book, which is to show how cool it would be to be a paleontologist.Bottom line: Read this, while holding your nose a little bit, if you're interested in dinosaurs.Review copy received from Edelweiss.
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  • Jaya
    January 1, 1970
    Dinosaurs!For me that word is enough to at least flip through the pages of a book. Brusatte's work can be easily considered as a layman's guide to dinosaurs. Really enjoyed the almost casual and anecdotal narrative by the author, made me feel less dumb for not knowing anything "scientific" about the species. Quite remarkable how fast I finished reading this one, considering that I take lot more time reading non-fics. It was definitely a hard-to-put-down/away kind of a book. I liked how the autho Dinosaurs!For me that word is enough to at least flip through the pages of a book. Brusatte's work can be easily considered as a layman's guide to dinosaurs. Really enjoyed the almost casual and anecdotal narrative by the author, made me feel less dumb for not knowing anything "scientific" about the species. Quite remarkable how fast I finished reading this one, considering that I take lot more time reading non-fics. It was definitely a hard-to-put-down/away kind of a book. I liked how the author busted a few myths about dinosaurs as have been portrayed in popular culture by stating reasons and explanations carried out through research done in the recent past. Extra points for the numerous illustrations and images of the locations and species that were mentioned.All this mention of dinos made me reminiscent of a day I spent last year with these species :DThat's a T-rex btw :)And adding this place as a definite MUST-VISIT for my next trip... Bottom image is of the Yale Peabody Museum, courtesy Google
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  • Clif Hostetler
    January 1, 1970
    This book not only provides an overview of the current state of dinosaur research but also a history of paleontology and the characters who have worked in the field. It is a rapidly expanding field. Right now is the golden age of dinosaur research. Somebody, somewhere around the world, is finding a new species of dinosaur now, on average, once a week. So that’s 50-some new species a year, and that’s not a new bone or a new skeleton, that’s a totally new type of dinosaur that we never knew existe This book not only provides an overview of the current state of dinosaur research but also a history of paleontology and the characters who have worked in the field. It is a rapidly expanding field. Right now is the golden age of dinosaur research. Somebody, somewhere around the world, is finding a new species of dinosaur now, on average, once a week. So that’s 50-some new species a year, and that’s not a new bone or a new skeleton, that’s a totally new type of dinosaur that we never knew existed before.Prior to listening to this book, my knowledge of dinosaurs was based primarily on a smattering of news reports. Thus I previously had the impression that the bird-dinosaur relationship was a debatable hypothesis. But evidence now available seems quite convincing.The Liaoning fossils sealed the deal by verifying how many features are shared uniquely by birds and other theropods, not just feathers but also wishbones, three fingered hands that can fold against the body, and hundreds of other aspects of the skeleton. There are no other groups of animals, living or extinct, that share these things with birds or theropods. This must mean that birds came from theropods. Any other conclusion requires a whole lot of special pleading.Among the unique features shared by birds and dinosaurs is a respiratory system that provides highly efficient and light weight oxygen transfer system. No other species alive today has a respiratory system like this. To me this is the definitive proof of the relationship.Its amazing what can be deduced about dinosaurs by modern science. For example, dinosaurs had color. Through the use of melanosomes it has been inferred that feathered dinosaurs had a variety of colors which leads to the possibility that the feathers were developed for display purposes—peacock like—and subsequently turned into flying equipment through the evolutionary process.The author Brusatte leads the reader through the various stages of dinosaur evolution, beginning with the Triassic Period when their presence was not dominate. However a mass extinction caused by large and continuing volcanic eruptions cleared the way for dinosaurs to dominate during the following Jurassic Period. Brusatte devotes a whole chapter to the subject of T. Rex, the perfect “killing machine.” It is pointed out that their maximum life span was thirty years, and by the age of thirty they had a physic that would not allow them to run fast. Brusatte speculates that this may indicate that they hunted in packs because the T. Rex adolescents were lean and capable of running fast. The youth in the pack could catch the prey and the giant adults could move in for the kill. Measurements of the brain cavity show that, "Rex was roughly as smart as a chimp and more intelligent than dogs and cats.” From the skeletal structure around the brain paleontologist are able to determine that the Tyrannosaurus possessed heightened sensory abilities and relatively rapid and coordinated eye and head movements. This included an enhanced sense of smell. It also had an enhanced ability to sense low frequency sounds that would allow tyrannosaurs to track prey movements from long distances. The book provides an imagined description of what it would have been like to be alive on earth 66 million years ago at the time of the crash of the mighty meteor that ended the Jurassic Period killing off the dinosaurs except for birds. It appears that species that burrowed, had the freedom to fly, and could scavenge on dead organic material for several years after the meteor were the only ones that survived. No mammals at the time were larger than a modern badger. From this description I am convinced that if a similar sized meteor struck the earth now that it's highly questionable whether any humans could survive.
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  • Michelle Curie
    January 1, 1970
    I love dinosaurs. How insane is it to think that millions ago, those creates roamed the same lands we inhabit today? It is an idea that has fascinated me as a kid watching Disney's Dinosaur and (of course) Jurassic Park as much as it does today as an adult, getting excited about books by paleontologists like Steve Brusatte. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is an absolute joy to read and now possibly my favorite book on the subject. Brusatte specialized in the anatomy and evolution of dinosaurs I love dinosaurs. How insane is it to think that millions ago, those creates roamed the same lands we inhabit today? It is an idea that has fascinated me as a kid watching Disney's Dinosaur and (of course) Jurassic Park as much as it does today as an adult, getting excited about books by paleontologists like Steve Brusatte. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is an absolute joy to read and now possibly my favorite book on the subject. Brusatte specialized in the anatomy and evolution of dinosaurs and uses this book to retell the story of those ancient creatures: from their first appearance in the Triassic era to them becoming dominant during the Jurassic Era only to eventually die out when an asteroid or comet hit the Earth. It is an approachable read and Brusatte is able to form a narrative that is both engaging and informative. This book particularly focusses on their evolutionary development, which I appreciated. We all know about evolution and how it operates, but I felt like reading this gave me a completely new understanding of how crucial and all-encompassing evolution is to all life on Earth. Even a tyrannosaurus rex didn't just pop up one day and decided to take the golden place at the top of the food chain, but could only become who he was after thousands of years' worth of development. Brusatte loosens the narrative up by adding personal stories, which are delightful if you are interested in paleontology as an academic field. He talks about various encounters with peers and his own heroes, their works and discoveries and thereby manages to evoke a vivid picture of what the world of paleontologists is like - including which questions of nature are yet to be answered. He also comes clean with some misconceptions we have about dinosaurs (yes, birds are dinosaurs, so technically they are not extinct and no, that iconic scene from Jurassic Park in which a T. rex chases the escaping jeep would certainly not have played out like that). This book is exciting. It made me realize how it is not just the stories we make up that are exciting. It is our own, real and breathing world that is.
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  • Robin Bonne
    January 1, 1970
    5/5 for the informational sections about dinosaurs. 1/5 for the autobiographical sections about the author’s academic/research career in which he comes off as a sexist narcissist. Gross. Overall, read the sections about the dinosaurs and skip the parts about his personal experiences. I listened to the audiobook so I couldn’t skim the awful, masturbatory memoir stuff, which I found unfortunate. Every time he mentions a scientist, he turns it into a self-congratulating name drop. I wish the author 5/5 for the informational sections about dinosaurs. 1/5 for the autobiographical sections about the author’s academic/research career in which he comes off as a sexist narcissist. Gross. Overall, read the sections about the dinosaurs and skip the parts about his personal experiences. I listened to the audiobook so I couldn’t skim the awful, masturbatory memoir stuff, which I found unfortunate. Every time he mentions a scientist, he turns it into a self-congratulating name drop. I wish the author had focused on the dinosaurs because that was the most interesting part and what I picked the book up to learn.
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  • Melissa Stewart
    January 1, 1970
    It’s not easy to put scientists’ current understanding of the whole dinosaur world into perspective, but this book accomplishes that feat beautifully. The narrative writing style is so friendly and accessible that readers can sit back and enjoy the ride as Brusatte takes us on a captivating chronological tour of the Mesozoic—the Age of Reptiles—beginning about 250 million years ago and ending 66 million years ago with the famous asteroid (or comet) impact that wiped out all the dinosaurs except It’s not easy to put scientists’ current understanding of the whole dinosaur world into perspective, but this book accomplishes that feat beautifully. The narrative writing style is so friendly and accessible that readers can sit back and enjoy the ride as Brusatte takes us on a captivating chronological tour of the Mesozoic—the Age of Reptiles—beginning about 250 million years ago and ending 66 million years ago with the famous asteroid (or comet) impact that wiped out all the dinosaurs except birds. I enjoyed learning about the dinosauromorphs—dinosaur-like reptiles that lived at the same time as early dinosaurs but are not considered part of the group. At one time, scientists used a half dozen anatomical traits to differentiate the two groups, but recent fossil finds suggest that the line between the two groups is extremely blurry. I was also interested in the discussion of carcharodontosaurs—ferocious carnivorous dinosaurs that had their heyday before tyrannosaurs rose to power. Not surprisingly, my favorite chapter focused on the mighty T. rex. It began with a dramatic narrative hunting scene and then highlighted how the work of scientists—men and women—from around the world has contributed to our understanding the mighty beast. The descriptions of recent cutting-edge techniques were especially vibrant and fascinating.The chapter about how the world changed following the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs (except birds) really puts the reader in the middle of the action. The carefully crafted you-are-there scene setting gave me a strong sense of what Earth was like and how horrible it would have been to experience it. I also enjoyed reading what we know about the transition from dinosaurs to modern day birds.Throughout the text, Brusatte includes engaging personal anecdotes that give readers a flavor of what life as a paleontologist is like. My favorites described some of the discoveries he and his colleagues have made in the field, such as recognizing a sauropod trackway on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and unearthing a trio of Triceratops (playfully named Homer, Bart, and Lisa after the “Simpsons” characters) at Hell Creek in Montana.Traditionally, paleontology has been a white, male world, and this book accurately represents that. But I was glad to see that Brusatte balances those sections by repeatedly drawing attention to the important work of female colleagues as well as the contributions of a diverse array of scientists from around the world. Finally, I appreciated Brusatte’s ability to poke fun at himself. One of my favorite narrative sections recounts how, as a teenager, he had the audacity to cold call Walter Alvarez—one of the world’s leading paleontologists. Amazingly, Alvarez took the call! Many years later, when Brusatte met his idol, Alvarez remembered speaking with him. Scenes like this helped me connect with the author and understand (and admire) the depth of his passion and enthusiasm for dinosaurs.
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  • GoldGato
    January 1, 1970
    Those darn dinosaurs.If things had unfolded a little differently back then, who knows what the modern world would be like? It's like wondering what might have happened if the archduke was never shot.The whole these-were-the-coolest-beings-that-ever-roamed-the-earth moniker has always made me a dino fan. The amazing variations of these huge oddballs have always been intriguing and this book does its best to piece everything together. Which is a very good thing, because there have been so many new Those darn dinosaurs.If things had unfolded a little differently back then, who knows what the modern world would be like? It's like wondering what might have happened if the archduke was never shot.The whole these-were-the-coolest-beings-that-ever-roamed-the-earth moniker has always made me a dino fan. The amazing variations of these huge oddballs have always been intriguing and this book does its best to piece everything together. Which is a very good thing, because there have been so many new discoveries and new theories since I was a child that I lost track of which was the coolest dino (welcome back, Brontosaurus).Steve Brusatte is one of the world's eminent paleontologists whose other books, especially Field Guide to Dinosaurs, have made me a fan of his writing and his obvious enthusiasm for his work. Here, he charts the very beginnings of the dinosaur, even before they evolved. He starts with the Permian Extinction, which eliminated 95% of life on earth. Somehow, some little things survived and that eventually led the way for the bigger things to arrive later on. Right off, his description of the Great Dying kept me glued to the pages as the volcanoes spewed forth lava mud and carbon dioxide. How anything managed to live through all of that is simply amazing.As the dinosaurs grew, the earth was also changing, with the continents moving toward their current locations and the environment becoming a bit nicer. Well, nicer like walking outside at noon during an Alabama summer. The dinosaurs became larger and larger and ruled the world until the day that nasty asteroid slammed into Earth. Then, Brusatte relates what it must have felt like to wake up that day as a dino, thinking you were just going about your business as usual. Nope. Any dinosaur too close to the impact was vaporised while the ones further away endured boiling hot hail, mammoth earthquakes, renewed lava flows, loss of sun, loss of trees, and ergo, loss of life. The dinosaurs didn't all die at once, he states, but probably over a few hundred or few thousand years. Given the fact that they had been around for millions of years, the dinosaur extinction was relatively quick.The book doesn't just end with the catastrophic impact but instead continues with the rise of the birds, our current dinosaurs. All very fascinating. While there are some b&w illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, the book is mostly text with various photos of fossils and the paleontologists who discovered the dino fossils. That's because this book is as much a tribute to the men and women who found those dragon bones as it is to the dinosaur. I deducted a star for the continuous focus on the author (we get it, Steve, you like dinosaurs and you go on lots of expeditions). So pretty good book, but it forced me to check out another library book (The Great Dinosaur Discoveries) so I could see the actual illustrations of what these big brutes would have looked like.That darn asteroid.Book Season = Year Round (looking at the finches with suspicion)
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  • Bfisher
    January 1, 1970
    The actual pop science part of this book is OK - a reasonably readable account of recent developments and discoveries in the sciences bearing of the history of the dinosaurs. If it had been edited to that level, it could have been a solid 3 stars.Unfortunately, there is a peculiar injection of personalities into this book, and unpleasant personalities at that - imagine a cross of Animal House with Raiders of the Lost Arc. I finished reading this book because of my interest in the science, but I The actual pop science part of this book is OK - a reasonably readable account of recent developments and discoveries in the sciences bearing of the history of the dinosaurs. If it had been edited to that level, it could have been a solid 3 stars.Unfortunately, there is a peculiar injection of personalities into this book, and unpleasant personalities at that - imagine a cross of Animal House with Raiders of the Lost Arc. I finished reading this book because of my interest in the science, but I had to grit my teeth frequently.
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    It has been 20 years since my youngest son was 8-years old and obsessed with ‘all things dinosaur’. There have been amazing breakthroughs in our knowledge regarding dinosaurs; and with the advent of grandsons, it was clearly time for me to ‘up my game’!Brusatte has written a highly readable account of those new advances. He is an enthusiastic fossil hunter that takes the reader around the world from Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch “bursting with dinosaur bones”; to Hell Creek, Montana—a Triceratop It has been 20 years since my youngest son was 8-years old and obsessed with ‘all things dinosaur’. There have been amazing breakthroughs in our knowledge regarding dinosaurs; and with the advent of grandsons, it was clearly time for me to ‘up my game’!Brusatte has written a highly readable account of those new advances. He is an enthusiastic fossil hunter that takes the reader around the world from Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch “bursting with dinosaur bones”; to Hell Creek, Montana—a Triceratops graveyard; to China and its plethora of feather-covered fossils; and to Italy where a thin layer of iridium indicates that an asteroid hit the earth 66 million years ago.I admit that I enjoy reading about how paleontologists have determined that dinosaurs had feathers; that they were colored, and likely proved to be advantageous in attracting mates. And those dinosaurs that later became birds may have first used wing action to attract more attention, and just stumbled upon how wing action could result in gliding and eventually flying. It just takes a few millennia to make it happen.The number of new discoveries regarding dinosaurs over the past twenty years is mind-boggling. I look forward to learning more in the next twenty. Recommend.
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  • Gorab Jain
    January 1, 1970
    How I wish there was a time machine and I could go back and experience the dinosaurs live in action - off course from a safe spot!Reading through this book is that time machine.What I loved:- The science of deduction and simplistic narration, churning out facts from speculations.- How the changes in world geography gave way to the evolution of dinosaurs?- Why and how their bodies triggered and sustained the growth into giants?- The evolutionary purpose of various body parts.- The skin color and How I wish there was a time machine and I could go back and experience the dinosaurs live in action - off course from a safe spot!Reading through this book is that time machine.What I loved:- The science of deduction and simplistic narration, churning out facts from speculations.- How the changes in world geography gave way to the evolution of dinosaurs?- Why and how their bodies triggered and sustained the growth into giants?- The evolutionary purpose of various body parts.- The skin color and texture estimation from the fossils.- Dedicated chapter on TRex :)- All the possible causes of their extinction, and proven evidence to deduce the most plausible cause.- Last but not the least - directions to get to the living dinosaurs in today's world ;) [No kidding!]Even till date, more and more fossils containing newer species of dinosuars are getting discovered, giving phenomenal insights about them.Clubbed with the technological breakthroughs, this gets better by the day!Overall: Highly recommended!Reading this book will help to not only enhance the way you watch Jurassic movies, but also the way you observe the world around you.
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  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    The rise and fall of the dinosaurs is an incredible story, of a time when giant beasts and other fantastic creatures made the world their own. They walked on the very ground below us, their fossils now entombed in rock – the clues that tell this story. To me, it's one of the greatest narratives in the history of our planet. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is thoroughly enjoyable pop science: author (and celebrated young paleontologist) Steve Brusatte uses his own learning journey to outline The rise and fall of the dinosaurs is an incredible story, of a time when giant beasts and other fantastic creatures made the world their own. They walked on the very ground below us, their fossils now entombed in rock – the clues that tell this story. To me, it's one of the greatest narratives in the history of our planet. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is thoroughly enjoyable pop science: author (and celebrated young paleontologist) Steve Brusatte uses his own learning journey to outline the exciting advances occurring today in his field (he calls this the “golden age” of paleontology, noting that new species of dinosaurs are discovered/described at the astounding rate of about one per week), and not only did I learn new and fascinating information from the deep history of our remarkable planet, but I found Brusatte's enthusiasm to be contagious. Who doesn't love dinosaurs? Totally accessible (but fact-filled) and balanced with personal stories (which I acknowledge might strain the patience of those of a more academic bent), it all worked for me.Early on, Brusatte – who is a Chancellor's Fellow in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Edinburgh – refers to his “ebullient, wildly animated lecturing style”, and for the purposes of this review, I'd rather demonstrate this ebullience than attempt to list everything that Brusatte taught me. On the sauropods whose tracks he studied on the Scottish Isle of Skye: There's really no better way to say it: the sauropods that made their marks in that ancient Scottish lagoon were awesome creatures. Awesome in the literal sense of the word – impressive, daunting, inspiring awe. If I was handed a blank sheet of paper and pen and told to create a mythical beast, my imagination could never match what evolution created in sauropods. Brusatte devotes plenty of breathless space to the Tyrannosaurus rex – including debunking what Jurassic Park got wrong about the apex predators (turns out that their eyesight was perfectly sharp, but they couldn't have outrun a jeep) – and writes, “The seat of Rex's power was its head. It was a killing machine, torture chamber for its prey, and an evil mask all in one.” And after having repeatedly referred to T. Rex arms as “sad” and “pathetic”, Brusatte shares new research that has determined, based on strong shoulder extensors and elbow flexors, the Rex used these “short but strong arms to hold down struggling prey while the jaws did their bone-crunching thing. The arms were accessories to murder.” Murder! The writing gets amped up when T. Rex meets its favourite meal:Triceratops, like its archnemesis T. rex, is a dinosaur icon. In films and documentaries, it usually plays the gentle, sympathetic plant-eater, the perfect dramatic foil to the Tyrant King. Sherlock versus Moriarty, Batman versus the Joker, Trike versus Rex. But it's not all movie magic; no, these two dinosaurs truly would have been rivals 66 million years ago...The King needed immense amounts of flesh to fuel its metabolism; its three-horned comrade was fourteen tons of slow-moving prime steak. You can figure out what happened next.So, you either enjoy a professor writing like a teenaged dino-fanboy, or you don't. Interspersed with the timeline of dinosaur evolution, Brusatte outlines the history of fossil hunting from the “Bone Wars” (which saw 19th-century rivals Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh sending out teams of mercenaries to hunt for bones for their individual glory; in the pursuit of which they weren't above stealing, lying, and sabotaging each other's sites) to the academics of today. In addition to referring to individuals as the “hot shots” or “rock stars” or the “Rat Pack” of paleontology, Brusatte proves that paleontologists just might be a special breed unto themselves. Barnum Brown, the first celebrity paleontologist at the turn of the twentieth century, prospected for dino bones in high summer “decked out in his fur coat with his pickaxe slung over his shoulder”. Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás – an adventurer, WWI spy, and the first paleobiologist – was a “flamboyant dandy and a tragic genius, whose exploits hunting dinosaurs in Transylvania were brief respites from the insanity of the rest of his life. Dracula, in all seriousness, has nothing on the Dinosaur Baron.” And as for Brusatte's modern day colleagues:Thomas Carr – my absinthe-drinking, Goth-dressing friend who studies T. rex – was with us on the expedition and was part of this team. Clad in khaki (it was far too hot for his usual all-black getup) and sucking down Gatorade by the gallon (absinthe was more of an indoor pursuit), he attacked the mudstones with his rock hammer (which he nicknamed Warrior) and his pickaxe (Warlord), exposing a number of new Triceratops bones.And working on the other side of the world in China, Brusatte describes another rising star: Jingmai (O'Connor) calls herself a paleontologista – fitting given her fashionista style of leopard-print Lycra, piercings, and tattoos, all of which are at home in the club but stand out (in a good way) among the plaid-and-beard crowd that dominates academia. A native of Southern California – half Irish, half-Chinese by blood – Jingmai is a Roman Candle of energy – delivering caustic one-liners one moment, speaking in eloquent paragraphs about politics the next, and then it's on to music or art or her own unique brand of Buddhist philosophy. Oh yes, and she’s also the world’s number-one expert on those first birds that broke the bounds of Earth to fly above their dinosaur ancestors. And speaking of the first birds: as uncomfortable as I find this book's cover art – depicting a wispily feathered T. rex confronting wispily feathered prey dinos – that's a mental-shift I'll need to force myself to make: Brusatte makes the incontrovertible case that all true dinosaurs (not crocs or other proto-reptiles) were in a direct line to modern day birds and shared many of the same body features (flow-through lungs, wishbones, and yes, feathers; there's a paleontologist working today who can even determine the colours of their plumage). But, if I can mentally shift the T. rex from the upright Barney-the-dinosaur stance depicted in my youth to the balanced-forward pose accepted today, I suppose I can eventually re-imagine it covered in feathers. After all of the enthusiasm Brusatte displays for the rise and evolutionary success of the dinosaurs, the final chapter on their sudden demise is urgently and tragically related:It was the worst day in the history of our planet. A few hours of unimaginable violence that undid more than 150 million years of evolution and set life on a new course. T. rex was there to see it.An impact from a meteorite (or possibly comet), hitting with the force of “a billion nuclear bombs' worth of energy”, caused the near total extinction of the earth's most successful and widespread species (excepting, of course, for those dinosaurs who survived to evolve into what we think of as birds). The good news is that this catastrophic event paved the wave for the rise of the mammals, and us; the bad news is that we're no more special than the dinosaurs, and catastrophes – including those of our own making – can strike at any time. If you like your pop science poppy, this is an entertaining and informative read.
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  • Girish
    January 1, 1970
    Phew! A pop history on Dinosaurs written by a Paleantologist is enough to trigger your curiosity and awaken the science geek in you. However, you do worry about a Ross Geller level book you will be stuck with for ages. Stephen Brusatte is more Douglas Adams than Ross Geller and he tells a story that is at once engaging and enlightening. Imagine a huge jigsaw puzzle that has to pieced together. The challenge is that the pieces are found years apart and you have dedicated science heroes who try to Phew! A pop history on Dinosaurs written by a Paleantologist is enough to trigger your curiosity and awaken the science geek in you. However, you do worry about a Ross Geller level book you will be stuck with for ages. Stephen Brusatte is more Douglas Adams than Ross Geller and he tells a story that is at once engaging and enlightening. Imagine a huge jigsaw puzzle that has to pieced together. The challenge is that the pieces are found years apart and you have dedicated science heroes who try to make the best image possible with the pieces they have. And the frustration that lasts for decades when you realise there are missing pieces. That has been the story of piecing together the history of one of the most fascinating creatures that inhabited the earth.What Brusatte has done is not just laying out the facts (and theories) but also a tribute to all the paleontologists who have played a part in building the current understanding. Starting from the Permian period fossils through the Triassic age till the Jurassic and Cretaceous - the author paints a picture that is hard to ignore of complex foodchains, rise of apex predators and the entire evolution journey on fast forward. The journey is mapped through the work of paleontologists, geologists and collectors whose stories, quirks and anecdotes too are part of this book. The history of Dinosaurs cannot be narrated without the history of the planet and hence we get a lot of information on movement of continent, rise of oceans and rise of life in general.There is a chapter dedicated to Tyranosorus Rex (Tyrant King) which almost worships the larger than life (most lives, at least) predators. The author does not miss an opportunity to compare notes and point errata to the Jurassic Park movie, which is the introduction to most of us who are googling images today. The linkage to birds apart, the single mass extinction theory that brought an end to cretareous is more like the dominant theory that most paleantologists subscribe to. He actually describes a meeting of paleantologists in 2012 to discuss the validity of the theory where everyone agreed. This is only what we know.. so far.. A good book that presents facts actually allows you to understand the origin of popular theories without judging them - like the science of Phrenology which took off in the same period classifying human beings from different continents as different species. Today we grow uncomfortable knowing that gave grounds to Eugenics and later persecution of races in terms of superiority. Scientists are impervious to the implications of truth. The book makes you ask a lot more questions and for that reason alone, I loved it. A joyride!
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  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    Even though I love dinosaurs, I don't really read science books...ever. So, I was surprised I liked this book, let alone finished it. It was quite informative, especially for those, like me, who haven't been able to keep up with all of the findings in this subject for the last couple of decades. I think I liked this book because it was part memoir as well as science. The author has a sense of humor, and is only three years older than me, so his pop culture and generation comments were right on p Even though I love dinosaurs, I don't really read science books...ever. So, I was surprised I liked this book, let alone finished it. It was quite informative, especially for those, like me, who haven't been able to keep up with all of the findings in this subject for the last couple of decades. I think I liked this book because it was part memoir as well as science. The author has a sense of humor, and is only three years older than me, so his pop culture and generation comments were right on par. He does mention the film Jurassic Park several times, though usually to disprove some of their science. I only had one complaint: No color pictures! I was surprised how much this bugged me, but as the author described such beautiful landscapes of where he was digging, and then only provided a black and white photograph, the beauty was lost on me. I realize it's cheaper to publish without color photos, and paleontologists most likely don't make bank, but the author is the "resident paleontologist for BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs" so I think color photographs isn't too much to ask. The illustrations were lovely though, even if they portrayed the dinos with feathers...I guess I can't deny a lot of dinosaurs had feathers anymore since I've now read this. Dinosaurs just don't seem as cool with them.I will just mention that I have my own personal opinion on evolution. This book talks a lot about the evolution of dinosaurs. I am religious, which probably has a lot to do with it, but I never quite agreed fully with the author on this subject.Overall, I recommend it!2018 challenge: A book with an animal in the title
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  • Ula
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book so much! The first thing I ever wanted to be was a Palaeontologist and now I'm studying Geology, so this was a book after my own heart. It's also so so cool that Steve Brusatte did his masters at my university and some of my lectures even make appearances in this book. It is definitely the best book about dinosaurs I can imagine reading for pleasure and not school work, in fact it even clarified some of the subjects I have been taught recently. Not only was it informative but i I loved this book so much! The first thing I ever wanted to be was a Palaeontologist and now I'm studying Geology, so this was a book after my own heart. It's also so so cool that Steve Brusatte did his masters at my university and some of my lectures even make appearances in this book. It is definitely the best book about dinosaurs I can imagine reading for pleasure and not school work, in fact it even clarified some of the subjects I have been taught recently. Not only was it informative but it was also fun to read and always engaging, which is not always the case with non-fiction. Needless to say I recommend this to everyone. Go read it and fall in love with a forgotten world
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  • Peter Tillman
    January 1, 1970
    Off to a good start. I prefer to read pop-science books written by scientists, and Brusatte is a young, working vertebrate paleontologist at the Univ. of Edinburgh. Like all of us, he caught the dino bug when he was a kid. Unlike most, he made a career of it, and it's been an interesting one. Dino books are generally written by seniors, so it's fun to see one of the "young guns" take up the pen (or computer). Brusatte is an adequate writer, which is fine, since he's got some great stories to tel Off to a good start. I prefer to read pop-science books written by scientists, and Brusatte is a young, working vertebrate paleontologist at the Univ. of Edinburgh. Like all of us, he caught the dino bug when he was a kid. Unlike most, he made a career of it, and it's been an interesting one. Dino books are generally written by seniors, so it's fun to see one of the "young guns" take up the pen (or computer). Brusatte is an adequate writer, which is fine, since he's got some great stories to tell. And it's a great time for the field -- he says that lately, there's a new dino species described, on average, every week!Here's a nice sample, that is (I think) pretty much a chapter in the book:https://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...
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  • Greta
    January 1, 1970
    “How to be Brusatte's best buddy:(1) Go out drinking with him.(2) Don't be a female, not matter how colorful your style nor your "with-it-tude."(3) Agree with him on any paleontological controversy.”(Quote taken from this review).
  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DINOSAURS: A New History of a Lost World. (2018). Steve Brusatte. ****.The author is a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, although he was a native-born America from Chicago. He is a practicing scientist in the field, and has had several important discoveries attributed to him. Since the book was published this year, it is probably only about two years out of date on some key pieces of information. It is saved by having the word ‘history’ in the title. The aut THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DINOSAURS: A New History of a Lost World. (2018). Steve Brusatte. ****.The author is a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, although he was a native-born America from Chicago. He is a practicing scientist in the field, and has had several important discoveries attributed to him. Since the book was published this year, it is probably only about two years out of date on some key pieces of information. It is saved by having the word ‘history’ in the title. The author covers what is really known about dinosaurs in a chronological way – period by period. He also highlights what is not known or is only guessed at. The view of the author is that of a real explorer – warts and all. If you want a handy reference book on the topic that you can use to answer questions from your kids, this is a good choice. You might learn something, too.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    I haven't thought much about dinosaurs since I was in elementary school, so this was an absorbing and engaging look at what we do -- and don't -- know about dinosaurs at this point. So much has happened in the decades since my youth, and getting caught up was more than worthwhile. There are over 50 dinosaur species discovered each year (!!) and more, science agrees that birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs (!!!). I didn't realize that the Burpee, which is just down the road from me, has suc I haven't thought much about dinosaurs since I was in elementary school, so this was an absorbing and engaging look at what we do -- and don't -- know about dinosaurs at this point. So much has happened in the decades since my youth, and getting caught up was more than worthwhile. There are over 50 dinosaur species discovered each year (!!) and more, science agrees that birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs (!!!). I didn't realize that the Burpee, which is just down the road from me, has such a wide dinosaur history, despite the fact no significant fossils have been ever discovered in Illinois. I wish there'd been less about Brusatte through. The moments where it drifted into him nerding out about dinosaurs were weakened a bit when he name dropped. Certainly, those who've done work deserve credit, but doing so in context to how you know that person or have worked with them leans a bit too hard on the "look at how I've rubbed elbows with famous people" side. Barring that, readers who are curious about dinosaurs or haven't thought about them since elementary days will find this a worthwhile read.The audiobook worked well, too.
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  • Radiantflux
    January 1, 1970
    48th book for 2018.My three-year-old daughter loves dinosaurs. So I have gradually trying upgrade my pretty antiquated knowledge by reading a few books. This is by far the best general introduction I have come across, and confirms by belief that working scientists (if they can write) make for far superior authors of popular science books than journalists. Brusatte offers a fascinating paleo-history of the reign of the dinosaurs, from their beginnings in the Triassic, their rise to dominance in t 48th book for 2018.My three-year-old daughter loves dinosaurs. So I have gradually trying upgrade my pretty antiquated knowledge by reading a few books. This is by far the best general introduction I have come across, and confirms by belief that working scientists (if they can write) make for far superior authors of popular science books than journalists. Brusatte offers a fascinating paleo-history of the reign of the dinosaurs, from their beginnings in the Triassic, their rise to dominance in the Jurassic and final final flowering and demise at the end of the Cretaceous. He writes in an extremely readable style that is both authoritative with regard to the science, and that gives a sense of the excitement of the scientific method in action. Strongly recommended.5-stars.
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  • Liam
    January 1, 1970
    God I love dinosaurs.This book was so easy to read - I feel like I breezed through it. Probably helps that I know a ton about dinosaurs anyway, but still.Rise and Fall is a kind-of timeline of the Age of the Dinosaurs, from the pre-Triassic to the extinction. I say kind-of because he skips around quite a lot. It's more of a general overview, with frequent asides to tell anecdotes from his career as a paleontologist. These were interesting and so it wasn't too annoying where anecdotes shoved into God I love dinosaurs.This book was so easy to read - I feel like I breezed through it. Probably helps that I know a ton about dinosaurs anyway, but still.Rise and Fall is a kind-of timeline of the Age of the Dinosaurs, from the pre-Triassic to the extinction. I say kind-of because he skips around quite a lot. It's more of a general overview, with frequent asides to tell anecdotes from his career as a paleontologist. These were interesting and so it wasn't too annoying where anecdotes shoved into non-fiction generally are.There were a few annoying bits and pieces - he explains a program that maps species based on fossil similarity about three times for example - but overall, it was a neat read. It's certainly piqued my interest in dinosaurs again.
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  • Maria Chnoic
    January 1, 1970
    1/3 personal memoir, 1/3 biographies/history of paleontologists/ paleontology and 1/3 history of the Dinosaurs. Steve Burette makes the past academic in me jealous as he talks about the fieldwork he has done and famous paleontologist he has met since his undergrad, through his Ph.D. and now as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. Meanwhile, we learn the overall story of the Dinosaurs from Triassic, Jurassic up to their eventual almost (except birds) extinction in the Cretaceous period. I a 1/3 personal memoir, 1/3 biographies/history of paleontologists/ paleontology and 1/3 history of the Dinosaurs. Steve Burette makes the past academic in me jealous as he talks about the fieldwork he has done and famous paleontologist he has met since his undergrad, through his Ph.D. and now as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. Meanwhile, we learn the overall story of the Dinosaurs from Triassic, Jurassic up to their eventual almost (except birds) extinction in the Cretaceous period. I am disappointed that the skills Jurassic Park taught me to evade a T-Rex were incorrect :)Overall a recommended read that has made the Science Nerd in me want to read a learn more!
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  • Ram
    January 1, 1970
    Reading about natural history is in some ways similar to reading about astronomy. They both give you perspective and cause you to understand how insignificant we are.The main element is time (and in the case of astrology time and distance). It is hard for me to imagine a hundred years, I can read and somehow get a grip of events happening a thousand years ago , 10 thousand years ago. Homo Sapiens diverged from Homo Erectus about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, and that is hard to grasp. In the cas Reading about natural history is in some ways similar to reading about astronomy. They both give you perspective and cause you to understand how insignificant we are.The main element is time (and in the case of astrology time and distance). It is hard for me to imagine a hundred years, I can read and somehow get a grip of events happening a thousand years ago , 10 thousand years ago. Homo Sapiens diverged from Homo Erectus about 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, and that is hard to grasp. In the case of dinosaurs, we are talking about creatures who first appeared during the Triassic period, between 243 and 231 million years ago,[1] The world looked different (one continent, Pangea, before America, Africa and Australia separated) The book gives the reader an extensive account of the history of the dinosaurs, from their first appearance on earth through the various stages they went through up to their extinction (partial extinction, because we still have birds that are actually dinosaurs). The author, a paleontologist, while giving us the history of dinosaurs, describes the methods of research, mentions and describes many paleontologists that made significant discoveries and spices the narrative with personal experiences.I admit, that I was never much of a dinosaur enthusiast, but this book hooked me. Their story is exciting and as I stated in the beginning of the review, puts the measly hundreds of thousand years that we humans are on this planet into perspective. While reading the book, I looked up the various dinosaurs in order to get a picture of them and on the way watched a few video's about them, so it was a multimedia experience. Next step, I need a similar book about mammals…. Anyone got suggestions???
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  • Amy Wood
    January 1, 1970
    If you're in the market for an expertly written but approachable guide to all things dinosaurs, this is your book. Author and paleontologist Steve Brusatte has written a scientific narrative that effectively spans the entire career of the dinosaurs on this planet, and he makes this story both understandable and legitimately exciting for all non-paleontologist readers. What's more, he paints a vivid and extremely entertaining picture of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been shed (literally) If you're in the market for an expertly written but approachable guide to all things dinosaurs, this is your book. Author and paleontologist Steve Brusatte has written a scientific narrative that effectively spans the entire career of the dinosaurs on this planet, and he makes this story both understandable and legitimately exciting for all non-paleontologist readers. What's more, he paints a vivid and extremely entertaining picture of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been shed (literally) by generations of adventurous paleontologists and fossil hunters, offering humorous personal anecdotes about his time doing field work around the world. Brusatte's enthusiasm for fossil hunting is contagious, and will resonate with anyone who's ever picked up an interesting rock or fossilized shark tooth and wondered how these things came to be. The book also includes illustrations and photos of many of the dinosaurs and locations he describes, which is extremely helpful. My favorite chapter has to be the one about the almighty T. rex, the undisputed King of the Dinosaurs - I found this absolutely fascinating. Clearly the author has done a ton of his own research on the T. rex, but he also includes plenty of references to the stellar work of his fellow paleontologists. The research that's currently being done to better understand the T. rex is pretty amazing, involving cutting-edge technology, and again Brusatte describes this research in a way that's understandable for all. Overall, highly recommended!
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  • Jaksen
    January 1, 1970
    Finished it, loved it, enjoyed every word, hope he writes another!The funny thing about reading about past life on Earth is that one needs the newest, most up-to-date literature one can find. Science is often like that, but books on paleontology, where new discoveries come in almost every week and old ideas and theories are altered, magnified or just thrown out the window, is especially so. (Okay, so is physics, astronomy, medicine, etc. etc.) I just find it an interesting juxtaposition - oldest Finished it, loved it, enjoyed every word, hope he writes another!The funny thing about reading about past life on Earth is that one needs the newest, most up-to-date literature one can find. Science is often like that, but books on paleontology, where new discoveries come in almost every week and old ideas and theories are altered, magnified or just thrown out the window, is especially so. (Okay, so is physics, astronomy, medicine, etc. etc.) I just find it an interesting juxtaposition - oldest things, newest possible source material.Having said that, I, too, grew up on the old ideas of dinosaurs being huge, lumbering, slow-witted, animals and once you said all that - well, they were no more than big lizards, right? - there wasn't much else to be said. Digging up old bones? Boooooooooring...I never bought into that. As a seventh grade science teacher I loved teaching about these animals, these time periods, the whole shebang. When Walter Alvarez, with assistance from his father Luis, came out with their game-changing theory on extinction - the asteroid or comet, etc. - I photocopied pages from Time magazine (this is in 1980!) and made copies for every student in my class. (This was not easy at the time.) I had to use reams and reams of paper on this stuff. As for the book: It's wonderful, giving an overview on all the new ideas, who's doing what in the field, with anecdotes sprinkled throughout which gives the writing a fresh and modern appeal. The section on birds? Amazing. The pages on how the last dinosaurs probably 'saw' the asteroid/comet collision? Tragic. The section on the Triassic? And his description of natural selection and the inheritance of traits, compared to human geneaology? Wonderful. I learned SO MUCH.Back to me: I usually read mysteries, but I put them aside for this book; in fact, I noted every dinosaur (or prehistoric species/organism) I wasn't familiar with on a notepad. Then I bookmarked pages online so I could see what these animals looked like. (Not every one was pictured in the book.) I tend to photocopy some of these (it's easier these days) and insert them back into the book. Now that is pure dinosaur-devotion. :DI am glad I'm retired from teaching, but I do miss covering (teacher word!) this material with my seventh graders. Near the end of my career we devoted one quarter of the curriculum to Earth history, evolution, etc., and I LOVED IT. (I could finally bring in my dinosaur figurine collection - had them all over the classroom. And my dino-posters!) And I love this book. I own it, and I'm going to read it again, this time with pictures.One more thing: you needn't have any kind of science background to read and appreciate what Mr. Brusatte has done here.Five stars.
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  • Carly Smith
    January 1, 1970
    TL;DR: This book is amazing. You should probably read it, and you will then love dinosaurs.I cannot say anything bad about this book. Coming from someone who knew absolutely nothing about dinosaurs or paleontology (other than watching Ross on Friends - amiright??), this book was so eye opening and accessible. I can confirm my new love for dinosaurs is real.The author does such a wonderful job of explaining the scientific methods, terms, and new discoveries without it reading like a dry research TL;DR: This book is amazing. You should probably read it, and you will then love dinosaurs.I cannot say anything bad about this book. Coming from someone who knew absolutely nothing about dinosaurs or paleontology (other than watching Ross on Friends - amiright??), this book was so eye opening and accessible. I can confirm my new love for dinosaurs is real.The author does such a wonderful job of explaining the scientific methods, terms, and new discoveries without it reading like a dry research paper. I was able to learn and retain so much information (and yet I will definitely be rereading this in the future!). Every few pages I felt the need to stop what I was reading and share really cool dinosaur facts with anyone else in the room willing to listen. (The chapter about what the giant sauropods needed in order to survive as such massive herbivores was my favourite!)I quite enjoyed the humour in the author’s writing style and found myself laughing out loud at things like the crazy paleontology conference parties, or referring to a group of older students he idolized as the “Rat Pack”. It was nice to learn not just about dinosaurs, but about the life of a paleontologist as well!My only regret was having not read this before I visited both the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Natural History Museum in London. Both are referenced frequently with pictures or skeletons that are there - and although I spent much time in the dino exhibits, I would love to go back with this extra knowledge.I would seriously recommend this book to anyone.
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  • Eldon Farrell
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come
  • Natch Greyes
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure that I've ever been more disappointed in a book. I went into it thinking that it would be a basic-level summary of the evolution of dinosaurs and the world events that shaped them. Instead, the majority of the book (or so it seemed) was about the author's (and others) meetings and, occasionally, trips to find dinosaur bones. What made the book particularly insufferable (as others have mentioned previously) was that the author has to be in his thirties, at most (I didn't look it up), I'm not sure that I've ever been more disappointed in a book. I went into it thinking that it would be a basic-level summary of the evolution of dinosaurs and the world events that shaped them. Instead, the majority of the book (or so it seemed) was about the author's (and others) meetings and, occasionally, trips to find dinosaur bones. What made the book particularly insufferable (as others have mentioned previously) was that the author has to be in his thirties, at most (I didn't look it up), and, frankly, he doesn't possess any real critical insight of himself or others. As a consequence, the book does not start as you would expect - here's what the world looked like pre-dinosaur and here's what inhabited; it starts as an autobiography with the occasional dinosaur story thrown in. For example, his first story centers on going to Poland (if I remember correctly), getting off the train, and meeting a rather unfriendly looking guy...but, turns out, that guy was really friendly! And they found footprints! And wrote an article about it!...Oh, and the proto-dinosaurs were less like salamanders in their movements and more directional and we figured out what they probably looked like...but instead of a good description, here's a little photo and that's all. But it continues in this vein. Okay, next, the author went to Portugal. There, he met a dude who was the best at finding the fossils in the places he explored since childhood. Isn't that great? Isn't that guy brilliant? Just like the other paleontologists the author knows? Well, no. I grew up on a beach known to have plenty of fossilized shark teeth. I'm pretty good at finding shark teeth. So is every other person who grew up there or has lived there for a while and looks (cue certain little, old ladies). A visitor who shows up once for two weeks is going to be terrible compared to all us natives. The other thing that really bugged me was how everyone the author has ever met in the world of paleontology is "brilliant" or some equivalent...and there are several pages which are just lists of people and their specialties. I'm not sure how many paleontologists there are in the world, but I would guess that a fair number were listed in this book as "brilliant." I just don't think that's the case, unless paleontology is only populated by MENSA members. It really seemed like this book was more the autobiography of a dude in his thirties who happens to study dinosaurs and who thought to throw in some statements about dinosaurs. Disappointingly, those statements aren't always well thought out or explained. For example, the author talks about Pangea pretty early on, describing it as a single landmass stretching from the artic to antartic and centered on the equator with a desert spanning the equator so hostile to dinosaur-life that it was, essentially, a dinosaur-less. Yet, in the same breath says that on either side of that desert were dinosaurs in the early Triassic period. What he never seems to tell us is how those dinosaurs bypassed the desert to become distributed on both sides or whether dinosaurs evolved twice (one on each side) or what might have happened. I had to go on Wikipedia to look it up. Seriously. A history book should not require readers to resort to Wikipedia to explain what happened. (Dinosaurs appear to have been able to migrate past the desert areas, fyi).I ended up giving this book two stars because it does actually talk about dinosaurs a fair bit, albeit in a kinda rushed manner. And, I guess, I felt the talk of dinosaurs was colored by my perceptions of the protagonist of the story, the author himself. I'm a bit concerned by how much beer he drinks. There was more than one description of events being described as the best (the best conference, etc.) which seem to have been wholly related to the availability of alcohol and, in the case of Argentina, beef. Further, I'm a bit concerned about the author's relationship to women. He seems to revel in ribald jokes, as, I think, other commentators have mentioned, and seems to have a bit of a negative view of them. That might be okay for the character in a novel, but it's something that should be addressed in the world of real people. Those things really did color my feelings on this book and definitely contributed to the loss of a star. The other two were lost because of how much space seemed to be devoted to personal antedotes and urgings to read his other works rather than the story of dinosaurs.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    This could have been good. Maybe. If the author had stuck to dinosaurs which he didn't when he basically had to mention every person he has ever met in paleontology or has touched paleontology in some way. The first few chapters were definitely full of name dropping, mostly of male paleontologists. Female paleontologists were mentioned only if they were married to another paleontologist or just had their work mentioned while the men got full page biographies and accolades (and the overuse of cer This could have been good. Maybe. If the author had stuck to dinosaurs which he didn't when he basically had to mention every person he has ever met in paleontology or has touched paleontology in some way. The first few chapters were definitely full of name dropping, mostly of male paleontologists. Female paleontologists were mentioned only if they were married to another paleontologist or just had their work mentioned while the men got full page biographies and accolades (and the overuse of certain adjectives). I do have to point out one female paleontologist did get a bit more of an introduction but she gets mentioned and then ignored. I know science , in certain fields, can still be male dominated but this felt more like blatant sexism by the author. I mean, the men get full page biographies, their work is highlighted, their connections to others in the field are highlighted, they get treated with respect and admiration. The women are pointed out in relation to their husbands (if married) and might get a sentence about their work. Or just a sentence about their work if they're not married. If these women's work hadn't impacted his own, I don't think the author would have mentioned them at all.The writing and organization are all over the place. This was supposed to be a history of the dinosaurs but this was more a biography of the author's work. And a lot of the material just didn't feel like it was really new and I'm not big into dinosaurs but I knew a lot already. And I haven't read anything on dinosaurs since elementary school, I think. There were times when there should have been less detail and times when there should have been more detail. The few middle chapters did seem to improve (more dinosaurs, less author self-promotion) but it never really got good. I also felt the author didn't seem to know who he was writing for, who his audience was supposed to be. Things were all over the place. This has potential but never seemed to get off the ground. Not worth reading.
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