What if we woke up one morning all of the dinosaur bones in the world were gone? How would we know these iconic animals had a 165-million year history on earth, and had adapted to all land-based environments from pole to pole? What clues would be left to discern not only their presence, but also to learn about their sex lives, raising of young, social lives, combat, and who ate who? What would it take for us to know how fast dinosaurs moved, whether they lived underground, climbed trees, or went for a swim?
Welcome to the world of ichnology, the study of traces and trace fossils – such as tracks, trails, burrows, nests, toothmarks, and other vestiges of behavior – and how through these remarkable clues, we can explore and intuit the rich and complicated lives of dinosaurs. With a unique, detective-like approach, interpreting the forensic clues of these long-extinct animals that leave a much richer legacy than bones, Martin brings the wild world of the Mesozoic to life for the twenty-first century reader.
"Martin's popular, non-academic debut bubbles over with the joy of scientific discovery as he shares his natural enthusiasm for the blend of sleuthing and imagination that he brings to the field of ichnology – the study of trace fossils and features left by organismal behavior, such as tracks, nests, and burrows. The energy behind Martin's "what if" saurian life scenarios is no mere distraction; his science is solid and his descriptions of the current state of classification and knowledge are clear, up to date, and detailed. The books is great fun for anyone looking to revive their childhood dinosaur obsessions."
– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Martin's greatest talent may be in evoking the lost world brought to light by dinosaur traces. Ichnology is a science of absence, one that re-creates an entire ecosystem out of a few dimples in some rocks. Martin is a skilled tracker and a worthy guide."
– The Dallas Morning News
"Anthony Martin''s thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking book explains the critical importance of non-skeletal fossils, which are often-underrated, yet provide key insights on almost every aspect of dinosaur lives. The clear and lively text skillfully integrates information and is brightened by Martin's fascinating stories of research and his wonderfully quirky sense of humor."
– Karen Chin, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder
"An enjoyable and stimulating read for both the dinosaur fan and expert alike that highlights the extensive and largely unrecognized role ichnology has played in revealing dinosaur behavior and ecology, and the impact dinosaurs may have had on past and modern ecosystems. Anthony Martin uses his extensive experience to provide an amusing, thorough, and provocative review of dinosaur trace fossils, from tacks and burrows all the wya through regurgitates and coprolites."
– David Varricchio, Associate Professor of Paleontology, Montana State University
"People are amazed what paleontology can deduce from bones – Anthony shows what can be learned with a simple trace in the sand. No other book in recent years expresses the joy of employing the scientific method to reveal the ancient world."
– James Kirkland, Utah State Paleontologist