Prothero is noted for injecting warmth and familiarity into a profession that desperately needs a more appealing approach to nonspecialists. Bringing his trademark style to an increasingly relevant subject of concern, Prothero links the climate changes that have occurred over the past 200 million years to their effects on plants and animals, especially contrasting the extinctions that ended the Cretaceous period, which wiped out the dinosaurs, with those of the later Eocene and Oligocene epochs.
He begins with the "greenhouse of the dinosaurs", the global-warming episode that dominated the Age of Dinosaurs and the early Age of Mammals. He describes the remarkable creatures that once populated the earth and uses his experiences collecting fossils in the Big Badlands of South Dakota to sketch their world. He then discusses the growth of the first Antarctic glaciers, which marked the Eocene-Oligocene transition.
In following this dramatic transformation, Prothero shares his anecdotes of excavations and activists and illuminates the controversies between colleagues that shape our understanding of the contemporary and prehistoric world. He concludes with observations about Nisqually Glacier and other locations that prove global warming is happening much more quickly than previously predicted, irrevocably changing the balance of the earth's thermostat.
1. Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs
2. Bad Lands, Good Fossils
3. Magnets and Lasers
4. "Punk Eek" in the Badlands
5. Death of the Dinosaurs
6. Marine World
7. Rocky Mountain Jungles and Eels' Ears
8. From Greenhouse to Icehouse
9. Once and Future Greenhouse?
10. Kids, Dinosaurs, and the Future of Paleontology
Donald R. Prothero is professor of geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and lecturer in geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988 and the Schuchert Award (outstanding palaeontologist under forty) in 1991. He is the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of twenty-four books and over two hundred scientific papers. His titles for Columbia University Press are Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, From Greenhouse to Icehouse, and The Eocene-Oligocene Transition.
Prothero has woven together a gripping tale that will fascinate readers with many levels of expertise. Fossil News 11/2009 Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs should be on the suggested reading list for any undergraduate interested in pursuing paleontology, and as a paleobiological statement, shows that paleontology is more than (fossilized) sticks and stones. Geology Today Vol 26, No 3 ...this is a very enriching, stimulating, and, of course, enjoyable reading. Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie No 121, 2011