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Today, any kid can rattle off the names of dozens of dinosaurs. But it took centuries of scientific effort – and a lot of luck – to discover and establish the diversity of dinosaur species we now know. How did we learn that Triceratops had three horns? Why don't many palaeontologists consider Brontosaurus a valid species? What convinced scientists that modern birds are relatives of ancient Velociraptor?
In The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries, Donald R. Prothero tells the fascinating stories behind the most important fossil finds and the intrepid researchers who unearthed them. In twenty-five vivid vignettes, he weaves together the dramatic tales of dinosaur discoveries with what modern science now knows about the species to which they belong. Prothero takes us from eighteenth-century sightings of colossal bones taken for biblical giants through recent discoveries of enormous predators even larger than Tyrannosaurus. He recounts the escapades of the larger-than-life personalities who made modern palaeontology, including scientific rivalries like the nineteenth-century "Bone Wars". Prothero also details how to draw the boundaries between species and explores debates such as whether dinosaurs had feathers, explaining the findings that settled them or keeps them going.
Throughout, he offers a clear and rigorous look at what palaeontologists consider sound interpretation of evidence. An essential read for any dinosaur lover, The Story of Life in 25 Fossils teaches us to see an ancient world ruled by giant majestic creatures anew.
Donald R. Prothero is a paleontology and geology researcher, teacher, and author. He is adjunct professor of geological sciences at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and research associate in vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. His Columbia University Press books include The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution (2015) and The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks: Tales of Important Geological Puzzles and the People Who Solved Them (2018).
"A grand tour of dinosaurs, from one of our most prolific natural history writers. I've been reading Donald Prothero's books since I began studying geology in college, and here he delivers again, with a romping chronicle of some of the most charismatic dinosaurs and the equally fascinating people who have studied them."
– Steve Brusatte, University of Edinburgh paleontologist and New York Times bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
"This book is excellent. Rather than simply a profile of 25 dinosaurs, it puts each of these in context of its discovery and significance in terms of the science of paleontology, as well as comparisons with close relations. Thus, it covers hundreds of dinosaurs, not just twenty-five."
– Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., Vertebrate Paleontologist, Department of Geology, University of Maryland