My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs

Brian Switek, Author
Brian Switek. Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-13506-5
Reviewed on: 11/26/2012
Release date: 04/16/2013
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-374-53426-4
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4668-3676-1
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In this revealing work of pop paleontology, Switek (Written in Stone) travels across America to visit dinosaur fossils, but don't let the subtitle and descriptions of stunning scenery and trips down gravel roads mislead you—this isn't really a travelogue: each stop serves as but a jumping-off point for an examination of our changing understanding of dinosaurs. As a child, Switek learned that his beloved Brontosaurus had been denounced as a distinct species and relabeled Apatosaurus; in the course of his travels, he learns that other dinosaurs have met a similar fate—but he doesn't see this as something to be mourned. In fact, it's proof of the great strides being made in the science of dinos. Along the way, Switek describes a host of colorful characters, including Heinrich Mallison, who uses digital modeling software to figure out how certain dinosaurs—particularly the troublingly spiky-tailed Kentrosaurus—had sex. He also demonstrates that contrary to the relatively dowdy dinos of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, new science suggests many were feathered, and colorfully at that. Engaging and accessible enough for the lay person, readers will readily agree when Switek concludes that "dinosaurs are better than ever." Photos & illus. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory. (Apr.)
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