In the last decade, Italian Mesozoic marine deposits have revealed the unexpected presence of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs of Italy is a faithful report of those discoveries. It is a popular but thorough book, written by one of the leading dinosaur paleontologists in Italy with the collaboration of the science writer Giuseppe Brillante. After an introduction to the world of dinosaurs, each chapter deals with one finding: from dinosaur footprints (including new sites from southern Italy found in 2000) and the exciting discovery and description of Scipionyx, to the Trieste hadrosaurs and the very recent "saltriosaur." Italian marine and flying reptiles are also described, represented by spectacular specimens such as the large shastasaurid ichthyosaur Besanosaurus and the most ancient pterosaur Eudimorphodon. Other chapters deal with the K/T boundary of Gubbio and its role in reconstructing the story of dinosaur extinction and offer speculations about future findings. Dinosaurs of Italy includes the true story of Scipionyx's discovery, written by its lead researcher.
" [...] Dinosaurs of Italy represents another valuable contribution to the IU Press Life of the Past series, and I warmly recommend it to everyone with interest not only in dinosaurs but in extinct life as well. It will give you an engaging and picturesque insight into the life on Earth, as it once was [...] "
"Although dinosaurs are rare in Italy, recent (within the last 15, 20 years) dinosaur discoveries provide the basis for Dinosaurs of Italy. As head of the Laboratory of Paleontology at the Museum of Natural History in Milan, dal Sasso has been involved in the excavation and/or description of Italy's most significant dinosaur finds. Three significant dinosaur specimens and the geology of the enclosing strata are discussed in detail in this book. The most spectacular of the fossils is a juvenile specimen of the Triassic theropod Scipionyx in which some internal organs were preserved. The other specimens discussed are an exceptionally preserved and perfectly articulated hadrosaur and a large Early Jurassic carnosaur. Dinosaur trackway sites round out the dinosaur portion of the book. Two chapters are devoted to nondinosaurs: the marine reptiles (mostly ichthyosaurs) and pterosaurs. The chapter on dinosaur extinction hypotheses focuses on the paleontological and geochemical evidence discovered at Gubbio that ultimately led to the extraterrestrial impact hypothesis. In addition to descriptions of the fossils, dal Sasso presents paleoenvironmental and paleogeographic reconstructions of Italy at different times during the Mesozoic. Although most readers would find some of the anatomical terminology difficult, the book is engaging and very readable. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty."
– T. J. Kroeger, Bemidji State University, Choice, September 2005
Foreword by Philip J. Currie vii
The Dinosaurs' Timepiece
What Is (And What Is Not) a Dinosaur
Evolution of an Idea
Who Gave Dinosaurs Their Names?
Starring and Guest Stars
2 On the Tracks of the Dinosaurs
When the Bahamas Were in Trentino
The Sherlock Holmes of Prehistoric Times
Strolling along the Jurassic Beaches
The Enigma of Nourishment
A Little Bit of History
Serendipity in Apulia
Scipionyx-"Ciro" to His Friends
An All-Italian Discovery
Autopsy of a Dinosaur
Every Inch a Baby
An Extraordinary Mosaic
Islands and Genes Adrift
The Secret Is in the Lagoon
A Prehistoric Drama
"Antonio" and the Hadrosaurs of the Triestine Karst
Tropical Forests and Swamps…of the Adriatic Sea
Male or Female?
The Bison of the Mesozoic
A Sound from the Past
Jurassic, Italy: The Saltriosaur
An 8-Meter-Long Predator
Not Many Bones but Good Ones
Dinosaurs, Dry Land, and Marble Palaces
The Besanosaur and Marine Reptiles
Digging into the Triassic
Hunting for Ichthyosaurs
An X-Rayed Fossil
Face to Face with the Besanosaur
A Tropical Sea
A Unique Window onto the Past of Reptiles
Flying Reptiles in Italy
A Real Record
The World's Most Ancient Pterosaurs
And Yet They Learned to Fly
Gubbio: the Echo of Disaster
The Archives of the Earth's History
An Extraterrestrial Cause
The Weak Point
A Jumble of Hypotheses
Not All Extinct
The Future of Italian Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs of the Third Millennium
And Now What?
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Cristiano dal Sasso is Head of the Laboratory of Paleontology at the Museum of Natural History in Milan. He was technical coordinator of the excavations at the Triassic fossil site of Besano. He has described three new kinds of reptiles (Aphanizocnemus, Besanosaurus, and Scipionyx) and has authored numerous popular reports and scientific papers, which have been published in international reviews such as Nature, Science, and the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Giuseppe Brillante is a freelance journalist. He writes for various scientific reviews, including Airone and Newton. He lives and works in Milan.