Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Our Beloved Brontosaurus

 Just like the author of this book, Brian Switek, I did not get the memo that only children were supposed to love dinosaurs to distraction. I grew up next to dinosaur country, the badlands of Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park by Brooks, Alberta. My first dinosaur book was a How and Why book and my father used to claim that I knew the names of "all the dinosaurs" by the time I was two. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do remember insisting on going to the Chamber of Commerce display of dinosaur bones almost every time the family went to Drumheller for any purpose and I was absolutely delighted when the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology opened there in 1985. My birthday was often celebrated by a trip to the museum and I don't feel like a summer is complete without at least one visit to the Museum and Drumheller. In fact, I just recently made my 2013 pilgrimage.

I'm still fascinated by all things dinosaur, although I don't have the time I used to have keep up with all the new discoveries and new interpretations of old material. That's why I enjoyed this book so much--its Switek's job to keep up with it all and he provided me with a much needed update on all the latest information. What are the paleontologists debating these days? Many of the same things from different angles, actually. Figuring out which fossils, currently identified as separate species, are actually growth stages of other species. Finding out more about the original dinosaurs of the Triassic period and about what actually defines a dinosaur. Figuring out what made them so successful as a group and why they finally went extinct after all those millennia of awesome. Bringing birds into the dinosaur fold and determining why they are the only dinosaurs to survive the K/T extinction.

Switek is obviously and completely devoted to dinosaurs, which I can understand and appreciate. His passion comes through in his writing and its very inspiring for those of us who have to make our livings in other fields, but have always wanted to be paleontologists. I would love to have coffee with him!

I also adored the book jacket artwork--a kneeling man offering a lovely boquet of flowers to an enormous sauropod, which is taking it gently from his hand. It beautifully captures his tribute to Brontosaurus, which runs throughout the book.

Highly recommended to every one who hasn't lost their love of all things saurian.

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