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Dinosaurs of Darkness

Popular ScienceOut of Print

Series: Life of the Past

By: Thomas H Rich(Author), Patricia Vickers-Rich(Author)

222 pages, 18 colour & 90 b/w illustrations

Indiana University Press

Hardback | Dec 2000 | #111128 | ISBN: 0253337739
Out of Print Details

About this book

Dinosaurs of Darkness opens a doorway to a fascinating former world, which existed in Australia between 100 million and 120 million years ago, when Australia was far south of its present location and joined to Antarctica. Over the past two decades, scientists have determined that dinosaurs lived in this polar region.

The way we have come to know about this lost world – so different from any that exists on Earth today – makes for a fascinating story. Thomas H. Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich. who played crucial roles in this discovery, describe their efforts to collect the fossils indispensable to our knowledge of this realm and the laboratory work that unlocked the secrets of these fossils. And they report on the activities of hundreds of other individuals who helped shaped the outcome. Their journey of scientific adventure is full of the ambiguities of life; it begins with one destination in mind and ends at another, arrived at by a most roundabout route, down byways and back from dead ends. Dinosaurs of Darkness is a personal account of the way scientific research is actually conducted and how hard it is to mine the knowledge of this remarkable life of the past.

"This is a well-written, popularized account of Vickers-Rich and Rich 's research at Dinosaur Cove, southwest of Melbourne, Australia. The first excavations took place in 1980, but it was not until 1984 that any significant dinosaur remains were found. Originally, most of those engaged in the excavation of fossils were amateurs. A large amount of equipment was utilized to burrow into a cliff where the sediments of an ancient stream channel were preserved. By the second year of exploration, the site at Dinosaur Cove was better organized, and almost 10 tons of fossiliferous rock were excavated. From 1986 to 1991, many of those engaged in excavations were Earthwatch volunteers from the US. Much tunneling had to be undertaken at the various sites under study, and at times high tides would inundate the sites. Eventually, five new genera of Hypsilophodontidae were found. A long description is offered of dating methods for recovered fossils. Excavation sites are isolated so everything necessary for digging has to be transported there, necessitating complex logistical arrangements. Half the chapters describe excavations on the North Slope of Alaska; a site near Kilcunda, Victoria; Cape York Peninsula north of Cairns; and other sites. A general discussion on the evolution of dinosaurs rounds out the book. General readers; undergraduates."
– G. Nicholas, Manhattan College, Choice, February 2001



1. Dinosaur Cove
2. The Crossing of the Rubicon: The Excavation of 1984
3. Back to Dinosaur Cove
4. Interlude
5. Underground at Dinosaur Cove
6. New Explorations
7. Restoring the Life of the Past
8. The First Last Excavation of Dinosaur Cove
9. Other Eggs, Other Baskets
10.An Unexpected Surprise

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Thomas H. Rich is Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at Museum Victoria in Melbourne and co-author (with Patricia Vickers-Rich) of Wildlife of Gondwana: Dinosaurs and Other Vertebrates from the Ancient Supercontinent, also published by Indiana University Press.

Patricia Vickers-Rich hold a Chair in Paleontology at Monash University, where she lectures in the Earth Sciences department.

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