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My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaursby Brian Switek
Synopses & Reviews
Paleontology meets pop culture in a talented young authors journey into the lives of dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs haunt museum halls, stomp across movie screens, and adorn just about any product you can name. Despite groundbreaking discoveries, the dinosaurs of our childhood are entrenched in our minds, and new science struggles to overcome the inaccurate monsters of Jurassic Park.
In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the brilliant dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek investigates the tension between dinosaurs as scientific objects and pop-culture icons as he introduces us to the latest theories in paleontology, from how dinosaurs had sex to what colors they were and just how they got so big. To understand why they died — after 150 million years of success — we need to know how they lived. With infectious enthusiasm, Switek explains that these giant beasts left behind a wealth of information in their bones — and its only by piecing together these clues that we can begin to understand ourselves. After all, our furry little ancestors lived in the shadow of the dinosaurs.
Switek visits excavation sites, museums, and high-tech labs to question what we've long held true about these creatures, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs that started when he was knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that science buffs and dinosaur fans will cherish for years to come.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“[Switek] offer[s] a compelling mixture of reliable information, personal experiences and thoughts, anecdotes about paleontological research and even science philosophy, delivered in a breezy and engaging style...[he] paints a comprehensive picture of how our understanding of dinosaur evolution gradually advances....Switek has succeeded in covering a wide range of interesting topics in dinosaur palaeontology with infectious enthusiasm.” Nature
“Switek's chatty, informative cross-country adventure is the perfect read for catching up on the latest, most fascinating dino science.” Mental Floss
“[A] wonderful overview of current research and knowledge of dinosaurs, for both lifelong dino-lovers and people who need an introduction to the prehistoric beasts...informal, often humorous (in the tradition of great nonfiction writers like Mary Roach and Bill Bryson), without sacrificing scientific detail. The result is both readable and highly entertaining...an excellent field guide to the real dinosaurs that walked the planet.” DoubleXScience
“In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us....Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.” The Guardian's GrrlScientist blog
“Switek earned fame as the unabashed dinosaur advocate behind the fossil-focused blog Laelaps. He applies that same blend of boyish exuberance and serious science to this exploration of paleontology's roots, revisions, and future course...his zeal is infectious....Switek fleshes out the monstrous skeletons that we all remember from childhood museum field trips with meaty new findings about their anatomy and behavior.” Discover
“Writing with unaffected ardor, Switek will resonate with readers fascinated by dinosaurs.” Booklist
“An enthusiastic account of the history, description, discoveries, ongoing controversies and inaccurate media obsession with these popular but extinct creatures....A genuinely informative introduction to [Switek's] favorite subject.” Kirkus Reviews
“With this new book, Brian Switek reaffirms his status as one of our premier gifted young science writers. It's an exciting time for dinosaur research, and Brian is the best guide I know.” Kevin Padian, University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley
One of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Spring Science Books
Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones.
Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. Rex's feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book's titular hero, “Brontosaurus” — who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all — as a symbol of scientific progress.)
With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we've long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.
About the Author
Brian Switek is an online columnist for National Geographic and is the author of Written in Stone. He has written for Smithsonian, Wired, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, Nature, Scientific American, and other publications. His examinations of fossil discoveries have been featured by the BBC and NPR. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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