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

by Donald R. Prothero Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 488 pages
AU$75.00 NZ$80.00
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Today, any kid can rattle off the names of dozens of dinosaurs. But it took centuries of scientific effort—and a lot of luck—to discover and establish the diversity of dinosaur species we now know. How did we learn that Triceratops had three horns? Why don't many paleontologists consider Brontosaurus a valid species? What convinced scientists that modern birds are relatives of ancient Velociraptor?


InThe Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries, Donald R. Prothero tells the fascinating stories behind the most important fossil finds and the intrepid researchers who unearthed them. In twenty-five vivid vignettes, he weaves together the dramatic tales of dinosaur discoveries with what modern science now knows about the species to which they belong. Prothero takes us from eighteenth-century sightings of colossal bones taken for biblical giants through recent discoveries of enormous predators even larger than Tyrannosaurus. He recounts the escapades of the larger-than-life personalities who made modern paleontology, including scientific rivalries like the nineteenth-century "Bone Wars." Prothero also details how to draw the boundaries between species and explores debates such as whether dinosaurs had feathers, explaining the findings that settled them or keep them going. Throughout, he offers a clear and rigorous look at what paleontologists consider sound interpretation of evidence. An essential read for any dinosaur lover, this book teaches us to see an ancient world ruled by giant majestic creatures anew.

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPart I. In the Beginning1. Megalosaurus: The “Great Lizard,a the “Scrotum Humanuma, and the First Named Dinosaur2. Iguanodon: Gideon Mantell, Louis Dollo, and the First Dinosaur Fauna3. Cetiosaurus: The “Whale Lizard,a Richard Owen, and the First Known Sauropod4. Hadrosaurus: Joseph Leidy and the First American Dinosaur5. Eoraptor: The First DinosaursPart II. The Long-Necked Giants6. Plateosaurus: Ancestors of the Giants7. Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus: Marsh, Cope, and the Bone Wars8. Diplodocus: The Real “Jurassic Parka and Carnegie's Gift9. Giraffatitan: The Tallest of the Tall, and the Tendaguru 10. Patagotitan: Who's the Biggest of Them All?Part III. Red in Tooth and Claw: The Theropods11. Coelophysis: The Little Dinosaur of Ghost Ranch12. Cryolophosaurus: Denizen of the Polar Darkness13. Spinosaurus: Lost Giants of Egypt14. Tyrannosaurus: King of the Tyrant Reptiles15. Giganotosaurus: Biggest Predator of All?16. Deinocheirus: “Terrible Handsa Lead to Big Surprises17. Velociraptor: “Terrible Clawsa and the Dinosaur Renaissance18. Sinosauropteryx: Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of BirdsPart IV. Horns and Spikes and Armor and Duck Beaks: The Ornithischians19. Heterodontosaurus: The Origin of Ornithischians20. Stegosaurus: The “Roofed Lizarda and the Thagomizer21. Ankylosaurus: Armored Dinosaurs and “Mr. Bonesa22. Corythosaurus: Duckbills with Headgear23. Stegoceras: The “Unicorn Dinosaura and the Boneheads24. Protoceratops: The Griffin Legend and the Origin of Horned Dinosaurs25. Triceratops: The “Dinosaurian Bisona and the Last of the DinosaursIndex

This book is excellent. Rather than simply a profile of twenty-five dinosaurs, it puts each of these in context of its discovery and significance in terms of the science of paleontology, as well as comparisons with close relations. Thus, it covers hundreds of dinosaurs, not just twenty-five.
Donald R. Prothero is a Research Associate in Vertebrate Paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He has taught college geology and paleontology for 40 years at institutions such as Columbia University, Vassar College, Knox College, and Pierce College, and currently at Cal Poly Pomona. For 27 years, he was Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University. He is the author of over 300 scientific papers published in leading journals and over 30 titles in geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology.