“The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries” Book Review

There are many dinosaur books on the market but very few are written in such an engaging and informative manner – “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries” by Donald R. Prothero tells the fascinating story of how our knowledge regarding the Dinosauria has evolved and changed over time – and what a superb read it is!  We doff our hard hats to you sir, once again you have produced an extremely informative and enjoyable read.

The Front Cover of “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”

"The Story of the Dinosaursin 25 Discoveries".

Front cover of the new book by Professor Donald R. Prothero “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

160 Million Years of Dinosaur Evolution and 190 Years of Study Encapsulated in Four Parts

Professor Prothero draws on all his experience as a palaeontologist, geologist and teacher to identify twenty-five dinosaurs that tell the story of scientific enquiry, the development of vertebrate palaeontology and to plot our changing views when it comes to these extinct reptiles.  The book is cleverly divided up into four distinct parts.  The first section outlines the early discoveries and some of the first of the dinosaurs to be scientifically described.  Megalosaurus and Iguanodon feature prominently, but the author widens the narrative somewhat by penning a chapter on the first dinosaur to be described from North America (Hadrosaurus).  The southern portion of this great continent is not overlooked, this section of the book is drawn to a close with a focus on Eoraptor from South America, widely regarded as one of the first dinosaurs to be have existed.

Part two introduces the long-necked giants, famous dinosaurs such as Diplodocus, Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus and the larger than life characters who were responsible for the “bone wars” and the taxonomic puzzles that still, in many cases have yet to be unravelled.  Look out for a chapter dedicated to working out which was the biggest dinosaur of all, we think the reader is going to be intrigued by Professor Prothero’s conclusion.

The Book is Adorned with Larger than Life Characters and the Stories Behind Fossil Discoveries

Othniel Charles Marsh and Red Cloud.

Famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh with his friend Red Cloud Chief of the Lakota people.

Picture Credit: “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”/Colombia University Press

If you needed to pacify an angry native American and get their permission to prospect for fossils on their territory, being able to take your false teeth out seems to do the trick, that is in the view of the author in one of his many, carefully researched anecdotes.

Red in Tooth and Claw

Part three deals with the Theropoda, that broad clade that includes most of the carnivorous giants.  Readers can expect to encounter Spinosaurus, Giganotosaurus and of course, perhaps the most famous dinosaur of all Tyrannosaurus rex.  Professor Prothero explains the problems surrounding the hunt for the fossils of such a well-known dinosaur, the T. rex chapter provides a concise overview of the issue of poaching and the illegal sale of fossil material to private collectors and dealers.

The fourth instalment of this excellent book, highlights the bird-hipped dinosaurs.  Entitled “horns and spikes and armour and duck-bills”, this moniker neatly encapsulates the contents, as the Ornithischians dinosaurs such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Corythosaurus are featured.

Members of the Thyreophora Such as Edmontonia Feature in the Book

Edmontonia and a life reconstruction.

The nodosaur Edmontonia (A), on display with an outdated life reconstruction (B).  The book contains numerous black and white photographs and illustrations.

Picture Credit: “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”/Colombia University Press

Tale of the Tape

T‎itle: “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”.
ISBN: 978-0-231-18602-5.
Price: Around £27 GBP.
Format: Hardback and ebook.
Publisher: Columbia University Press.
Size: 446 pages excluding index.
Subject classification: natural history/popular science/science.

Everything Dinosaur’s verdict – highly recommended both for the academic and for the general reader.

This book can be purchased on the Columbia University Press website: Columbia University Press.  Use the search feature to find the author and to see a selection of his books.

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