The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte is a wonderful book.
I mean there are no real surprises here; we all know how fossils have revealed the story of dinosaurs to us, and that, y’know, something catastrophic happened that wiped most of them out.
No, the real thrills here are the stories behind those fossil discoveries: we learn about anonymous construction workers in China who spotted fossils when digging out foundations for new buildings; teenage amateurs discovering new species in their hometown; opportunistic scavengers who hunted for fossils for money; and we learn about eccentric characters who sound like they belong in the world of fiction yet really existed (much like some the dinosaurs themselves).
Brusatte takes us on a journey through the different dinosaur ages, charting their rise and fall over the millions of years that they roamed the world. Indeed, the story starts so long ago that the earth would have been unrecognizable to us, with only one ocean and one giant landmass.
Here’s the author talking about his top ten fossil discoveries:
The most striking part of these stories is just how much of it is down to luck; luck that some dinosaurs died and were buried at the perfect moment and conditions for fossils to be formed, and then luck that people discovered those fossils at all.
The blurb on the back:
Sixty-six million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today, a new generation of dinosaur hunters are piecing together the complete history of how the dinosaurs created a hugely successful empire that lasted for around 150 million years.
Steve Brusatte, one of the world’s leading palaeontologists, uses fossil clues that have been gathered using start-of-the-art technology to follow these magnificent creatures from the start of their evolution, to their final days, and the legacy they left behind. Along the way, Brusatte offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable discoveries he has made, including primitive, human-sized tyrannosaurs and monstrous carnivores even larger than a T.rex.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a timely reminder of what humans can learn from the magnificent creatures who ruled the earth before us.