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Academic & Professional Books  Palaeontology  Palaeozoology & Extinctions

Dinosaurs A Concise Natural History

By: David E Fastovsky(Author), David B Weishampel(Author), John Sibbick(Illustrator)
521 pages, 366 colour & b/w photos and colour & b/w illustrations, 3 tables
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  • Dinosaurs ISBN: 9781108469296 Edition: 4 Paperback Jul 2021 In stock
  • Dinosaurs ISBN: 9781108475945 Edition: 4 Hardback Jul 2021 Usually dispatched within 5 days
Selected version: £49.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

The ideal textbook for non-science majors, this lively and engaging introduction encourages students to ask questions, assess data critically and think like a scientist. Building on the success of previous editions, Dinosaurs has been reorganized and extensively rewritten in response to instructor and student feedback. This edition has been thoroughly updated to include new discoveries in the field, such as the toothed bird specimens found in China and recent discoveries of dinosaur soft anatomy. Illustrations by leading paleontological illustrator John Sibbick and new, carefully-chosen photographs, clearly show how dinosaurs looked, lived and their role in Earth history. Making science accessible and relevant through clear explanations and extensive illustrations, the text guides students through the dinosaur groups, emphasizing scientific concepts rather than presenting endless facts. Grounded in the common language of modern evolutionary biology – phylogenetic systematics – students learn to think about dinosaurs the way that professional palaeontologists do.


Part I. Remembrance of Things Past:
1. To Catch a Dinosaur
2. Dinosaur Days
3. Who's Related to Whom – and How Do We Know?
4. Who Are the Dinosaurs?
5. In The Beginning

Part II. Saurischia: Meat, Might, Muscle, and Magnitude:
6. Theropoda I: Nature Red In Tooth and Claw
7. Theropoda II: Meet the Theropods
8. Theropoda III: The Origin and Early Evolution of Birds
9. Sauropodomorpha: The Big, the Bizarre, and the Majestic

Part III. Ornithischia: Armored, Horned, and Duck-Billed Dinosaurs:
10. Thyreophora: the Armor-bearers
11. Marginocephalia: Bumps, Bosses, and Beaks
12. Ornithopoda: Mighty Mesozoic Masticators

Part IV. Endothermy, Endemism, and Extinction:
13. The Paleobiology of Dinosaurs I
14. The Paleobiology of Dinosaurs II
15. The Flowering of the Mesozoic
16. A History of Dinosaur Paleontology Through the Ideas of Dinosaur Paleontologists
17. The Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction: The Frill is Gone

Index of Subjects
Index of Genera

Customer Reviews


David E. Fastovsky is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geosciences at the University of Rhode Island. His interest in dinosaurs began in his early years when he read about a paleontologist's adventures in the Gobi Desert early in the twentieth century. Dinosaurs won out years later when he had the tough decision of choosing between a career in music or palaeontology. He has since carried out fieldwork all over the world. He is known as a dynamic teacher as well as a respected researcher on the environments in which dinosaurs roamed, as well as their extinction.

David B. Weishampel is Professor at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research focuses on dinosaur evolution and how dinosaurs function, and he is particularly interested in herbivorous dinosaurs and the dinosaur record of Europe. He is senior editor of The Dinosauria and has contributed to a number of popular publications, including acting as consultant to Michael Crichton in the writing of The Lost World, the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's film Jurassic Park. He was recently honoured in an International Symposium on duck-billled dinosaurs, dedicated to him and his research.

John Sibbick has been creating illustrations of extinct life forms and their environments for over thirty years, producing numerous books on dinosaurs, as well as pterosaurs, and general books on prehistoric life. His work has appeared in scientific magazines, television documentaries and museums, and featured on a set of stamps depicting dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles for the United Kingdom's Royal Mail.

By: David E Fastovsky(Author), David B Weishampel(Author), John Sibbick(Illustrator)
521 pages, 366 colour & b/w photos and colour & b/w illustrations, 3 tables
Media reviews

"This book has it all; this new, fourth edition catches up with all the new ideas from the past ten years, and presents the excitement of being a dinosaur scientist, in the field digging up skeletons, but also in the lab, using the latest tools of science to understand how these amazing ancient animals lived."
– Michael Benton, University of Bristol, UK

"Professors Fastovsky and Weishampel have done it again. They have performed a great service for the paleontological community by keeping their splendid textbook up-to-date. Their text is easily the best available for undergraduate dinosaur courses. The authors write with clarity but also with a fine sense of whimsy. You wish you could sit in their classroom. The book is profusely and expertly illustrated, highlighting key points in dinosaurian anatomy and the phylogenetic framework in which these characters are relevant. With the deft touch of skilled paleontologists, they communicate not only what we know about dinosaurs but how we know it. They also recognize that science is a human endeavor done by real people whose stories they tell. This book is highly recommended for students, teachers and interested lay readers as well."
– Peter Dodson, University of Pennsylvania, USA

"The best dinosaur textbook on the market. I read an earlier edition when I was a student, and now I recommend it to all high school and college students who want to learn about dinosaurs. This latest edition is packed with the most up-to-date science, and is a masterful overview of what dinosaurs looked like, how they lived, how they evolved, and why they (or most of them) went extinct. Written in fun and accessible prose by two leading dinosaur researchers who are both excellent teachers, this is a book that anyone teaching a dinosaur course will want on their syllabus."
– Steve Brusatte, professor and palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

"Fully updated and with brand new illustrations, Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History is the best textbook on the market to guide students and instructors alike navigate through the ever-evolving field of dinosaur paleontology. With its illustrations and sharp (often witty) writing style, this textbook aims to make students understand the key concepts and knowledge at the core of dinosaur paleontology rather than simply memorize dinosaur "facts". In addition to providing the most up-to-date information about dinosaur lifestyle, appearance, and anatomy, the textbook clearly explains the evolutionary history and interrelationships of each dinosaur group, supported by beautiful illustrations, color photos, and cladograms. All the latest discoveries are discussed and colorfully illustrated. This textbook will prove enlightening to any student interested in dinosaurs and an essential read for anyone considering a career in dinosaur paleontology."
– François Therrien, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Canada

"My highest praise for the 4th edition of Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History! A plethora of color photographs and engaging illustrations skillfully convey difficult concepts, making intricate techniques like phylogenetic systematics seem effortless to comprehend. New call-out boxes discussing the latest research and unresolved questions in dinosaur paleobiology expose the reader not only to the facts of this discipline, but also the core process of science. With witty, conversational prose, the student is guided through the methods used in discovering knowledge. The result is a deeper appreciation for how we know what we know of dinosaurs and their world, and the use of paleontology as a vehicle for the cultivation of critical thinking skills along the way. This text is a pleasure to read, one that ignites curiosity not just for dinosaurs, but for the process of discovery that restores flesh to these titans."
– Frank Varriale, King's College, Wilkes-Barre, USA

"This is absolutely the best book I've ever had for my dinosaur class (in 30+ years of teaching it). It is an ideal text for an undergraduate course: up-to-date, lucid, engagingly written, and extravagantly illustrated. The authors communicate science with clarity and enthusiasm. The dinosaurs virtually lumber or scamper off the pages."
– Bonnie Rauscher, University of California, Berkeley, USA

"A fantastic textbook for students who are casually interested in dinosaurs to advance to a professional level of understanding about dinosaurs – how they evolved, lived their lives, and eventually went extinct millions of years ago."
– Benjamin J. Burger, Utah State University, USA

"We use Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History for our basic dinosaur class at Northland Pioneer College. The book attracted attention as it is relatively affordable for students and well-designed. It is a useful summary of current knowledge of dinosaurs that is accessible to college students at any level. Dinosaurs is well organized and abundantly illustrated. The concepts included are accurately presented. Classical and recent techniques used in dinosaur study are incorporated into the text. The book includes information on dinosaurs themselves, geology, their biology, and Mesozoic ecosystems. The text can also serve as a good jumping off-point for discussing concepts of dinosaur evolution, physiology, and anatomy."
– David Smith, Northland Pioneer College, Arizona, USA

"There are many textbooks on dinosaurs, but this one stands out as perfectly pitched to deliver up-to-date and engaging content that is highly accessible to non-palaeontologists. The focus on dinosaurs as living animals, rather than fossils, allows my zoology students to get to grips with these animals from the behavioural ecology and evolutionary perspectives they are familiar with. No great necessity for details of skeletal anatomy required! The beautiful illustrations and figures make an attractive complement to the text, and the well-chosen selected (further) reading enables students to expand their knowledge further. In short, this is a fantastic book to introduce zoologists and other non-palaeontologists to the biology of one of the world's most iconic group of animals: dinosaurs."
– Kevin Arbuckle, Swansea University, UK

"The 4th edition of this authoritative textbook brings refreshed and new artwork and insights into dinosaur paleobiology, keeping with the 'paleontology as exemplar of the scientific method' approach of the 3rd edition. In-depth 'boxed' mini-articles go deeper on key topics, and my dinosaur class will enjoy 'The Year of the Ankylosaur (at Least in Canada)' with its focus on Borealopelta and Zuul – the former meaning 'northern shield, and the other named after a fictional monster from the 1984 Ghost Busters movie, a choice 'loved' by Canadian actor Dan Ackroyd from that movie. These well preserved ankylosaurs raised the bar on what we know about these Cretaceous armoured beasts. Content like this adds a whimsy and immediacy to the 4th edition that will engage my students."
– David Greenwood, Brandon University, Manitoba, Canada

"A superb update, Fastovsky and Weishampel's Dinosaurs is indispensable in the classroom and as a reference text. The additions of new illustrations and research highlight the broadening diversity of the Dinosauria from recent finds around the world. Fastovsky and Weishampel have produced a readable, engaging text that I am sure my students will enjoy as much as I have. The authors should be applauded for producing a high quality, but very much affordable textbook."
– Peter Voice, Western Michigan University, USA

"Once again Fastovsky and Weishampel excel in producing 'the' dinosaur companion for all to use. Designed for budding undergraduates this is a comprehensive handbook and user guide for all dinosaur enthusiasts. The balance of core science intermingled with jaw dropping artwork and illustrations make this concise guide a very easy walkthrough and read for all ages. Each chapter provides the reader with a succinct summary and reference list providing a wealth of further reading on an already jam-packed series of highly informative and well laid out chapters. I cannot recommend this textbook highly enough."
– Nicholas Ray, Nottingham Trent University, UK

"This new edition brings the latest science to an already wonderful textbook. Fastovsky and Weishampel discuss the latest research, including ongoing scientific debates, to demonstrate how our understanding of dinosaurs is being revolutionized. The concepts are clear and well-organized, and the book could just as easily be used for a general introduction as an advanced college course. John Sibbick's figures are always engaging, and many have been updated to reflect our newest understanding of dinosaur biology. I strongly recommend this textbook."
– David A. Gold, University of California, Davis, USA

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