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Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones. Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex’s feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book’s titular hero, “Brontosaurus”—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.) With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we’ve long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.


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Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones. Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex’s feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book’s titular hero, “Brontosaurus”—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.) With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we’ve long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.

30 review for My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kaora

    I was one of those kids who was obsessed with dinosaurs. My favorite movie was Land Before Time, I took out stacks of books from the library, pouring over them until I had every dinosaur memorized, and I collected figurines, from Brachiosaurus to Tyrannosaurus Rex. As I got older, my Dad took me to Dino Town, and to the exhibits when they were in town. But eventually this phase ended, and while I still enjoy learning about them, Brian Switek takes this obsession to a whole new level. I like to thi I was one of those kids who was obsessed with dinosaurs. My favorite movie was Land Before Time, I took out stacks of books from the library, pouring over them until I had every dinosaur memorized, and I collected figurines, from Brachiosaurus to Tyrannosaurus Rex. As I got older, my Dad took me to Dino Town, and to the exhibits when they were in town. But eventually this phase ended, and while I still enjoy learning about them, Brian Switek takes this obsession to a whole new level. I like to think of these major events as what fantasy satirist Terry Pratchett once characterized as bifurcations in the trousers of time. The history we know went down one leg, but there was another possible outcome. I did enjoy relived my childhood obsessions, and finding out what changed from when I was a child. For the study of a creature that lived millions of years ago the knowledge about them is constantly being updated as new discoveries are made. The book touches upon various aspects of dinosaur life that I haven't encountered before. From the parasites that fed on them, the their sex lives this book covers it all. Occasionally I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of terms in this book, but the author did do a good job with making the book engaging. Google definitely helped me with picturing many of the creatures he mentions in this book. And while they lived so long ago, they still have so much to tell us. Cross posted at Kaora's Corner.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Just like the author of this book, Brian Switek, I did not get the memo that only children were supposed to love dinosaurs to distraction. I grew up next to dinosaur country, the badlands of Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park by Brooks, Alberta. My first dinosaur book was a How and Why book and my father used to claim that I knew the names of "all the dinosaurs" by the time I was two. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do remember insisting on going to the Chamber of Commerce displ Just like the author of this book, Brian Switek, I did not get the memo that only children were supposed to love dinosaurs to distraction. I grew up next to dinosaur country, the badlands of Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park by Brooks, Alberta. My first dinosaur book was a How and Why book and my father used to claim that I knew the names of "all the dinosaurs" by the time I was two. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do remember insisting on going to the Chamber of Commerce display of dinosaur bones almost every time the family went to Drumheller for any purpose and I was absolutely delighted when the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology opened there in 1985. My birthday was often celebrated by a trip to the museum and I don't feel like a summer is complete without at least one visit to the Museum and Drumheller. In fact, I just recently made my 2013 pilgrimage. I'm still fascinated by all things dinosaur, although I don't have the time I used to have keep up with all the new discoveries and new interpretations of old material. That's why I enjoyed this book so much--its Switek's job to keep up with it all and he provided me with a much needed update on all the latest information. What are the paleontologists debating these days? Many of the same things from different angles, actually. Figuring out which fossils, currently identified as separate species, are actually growth stages of other species. Finding out more about the original dinosaurs of the Triassic period and about what actually defines a dinosaur. Figuring out what made them so successful as a group and why they finally went extinct after all those millennia of awesome. Bringing birds into the dinosaur fold and determining why they are the only dinosaurs to survive the K/T extinction. Switek is obviously and completely devoted to dinosaurs, which I can understand and appreciate. His passion comes through in his writing and its very inspiring for those of us who have to make our livings in other fields, but have always wanted to be paleontologists. I would love to have coffee with him! I also adored the book jacket artwork--a kneeling man offering a lovely boquet of flowers to an enormous sauropod, which is taking it gently from his hand. It beautifully captures his tribute to Brontosaurus, which runs throughout the book. Highly recommended to every one who hasn't lost their love of all things saurian.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doug Clark

    My Beloved Brontosaurus by Brian Switek, published in April, 2013, is a review of the most recent discoveries about dinosaurs. Switek is an amateur paleontologist with a life-long fascination with dinosaurs. He’s written many articles for quite a few magazines. He is also an online columnist for National Geographic. The book opens with Switek writing about his fascination with dinosaurs from an early age. He is especially nostalgic about the dinosaur once known as Brontosaurus (“Thunder Lizard”) My Beloved Brontosaurus by Brian Switek, published in April, 2013, is a review of the most recent discoveries about dinosaurs. Switek is an amateur paleontologist with a life-long fascination with dinosaurs. He’s written many articles for quite a few magazines. He is also an online columnist for National Geographic. The book opens with Switek writing about his fascination with dinosaurs from an early age. He is especially nostalgic about the dinosaur once known as Brontosaurus (“Thunder Lizard”). Due to the priority of nomenclature, this famous name was thrown out when it was determined that the name Apatosaurus had priority. As with Switek, I remember the deep sense of depression I felt when Brontosaurus disappeared from our paleontological lexicon. I, too, remember fondly spending hours as a child reading everything I could about dinosaurs. I learned all the long names (besides Brontosaurus, there were the trusty Tyrannosaurus rex, Tricerotops, Stegosaurus, Anklyosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Trachodon, Allosaurus, etc.) and was ready to throw them out at a moment’s notice in general conversation. No doubt, looking back on it, I was obnoxious. I remember buying model kits to put together my own models. I remember actively and aggressively seeking out small solid plastic figurines of the dinosaurs. I loved that these had the names of the dinosaurs molded in plastic on their tails. I remember avidly looking at the set of Viewmaster slides that had dinosaurs. I pestered my parents incessantly until they finally took me to see One Million Years B.C. at the theater in 1967. And strangely enough, I was far more interested in the dinosaurs than a scantily-clad Raquel Welch. I also recall the World’s Fair in New York City in 1965 (?). It had a dinosaur exhibit, and although I wasn’t able to go, I always wanted to go to the local Sinclair Gas station to get whatever dinosaur-themed memorabilia they had. I still have to this day one of the little booklet/pamphlets they gave out promoting the exhibit. And so, although I am now a mathematician by trade, my love for dinosaurs is still strong. I continue to buy and read books about dinosaurs. My Beloved Brontosaurus is just the most recent in a lifelong love for these mysterious creatures of the dim past. With that being said, I clearly was already inclined to like this book. I was looking forward to reading it. The great fear in such a case is that with such high expectations, the book would prove to be a disappointment. However, My Beloved Brontosaurus did not let me down. It was a fascinating and marvelous book on the advances science has made since I was a child. In many ways, the book was similar to meeting a great friend who one hasn’t seen in decades. To return to those memories and create new ones was a joy. Briefly, Switek takes on what’s new in the world of dinosaurs over the past few decades. Following his discussion on the fall of Brontosaurus, he has chapters on what makes a dinosaur, a dinosaur; how dinosaurs became successful; how dinosaurs had sex; how dinosaurs were born and how they grew; how large could dinosaurs be; what type of society did dinosaurs have; the mystery and uses of feathers and color; how vocal were dinosaurs and what did they sound like; how to distinguish the gender of dinosaurs; what types of injuries, parasites and diseases were dinosaurs prone to; and how did dinosaurs go extinct. All of these subjects make for fascinating reading. The emerging picture of dinosaurs is one vastly different from what I grew up with. These are no longer the lumbering, slow-witted creatures of old. The portrait that Switek paints is of a group of far more active and complicated animals then what was once the popular view. I easily give My Beloved Brontosaurus my highest recommendation. Oh, as an added feature, the hardcover’s dust-jacket unfolds into a two-sided poster. The front is a painting of several Apatosauruses with the author, while the reverse is a painting of the author and an Apatosaurus skeleton in a museum. What fun!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    My Beloved Brontosaurus is exactly the sort of book I wanted about dinosaurs. Chatty, personal, but still closely focused on the creatures and how they lived (and died). I know a fair bit about dinosaurs thanks to another Coursera course, Dino 101, so not a lot of the information was new to me, but it was interesting to read it in another context, and to read slightly different angles on it. Switek's enthusiasm for the subject is kind of adorable, and actually made me smile a lot. In terms of the My Beloved Brontosaurus is exactly the sort of book I wanted about dinosaurs. Chatty, personal, but still closely focused on the creatures and how they lived (and died). I know a fair bit about dinosaurs thanks to another Coursera course, Dino 101, so not a lot of the information was new to me, but it was interesting to read it in another context, and to read slightly different angles on it. Switek's enthusiasm for the subject is kind of adorable, and actually made me smile a lot. In terms of the content, it's not exactly on the cutting edge, or any kind of exhaustive survey of research on dinosaurs. It picks out interesting facts and theories, discusses some of the historical theories that are of interest or contributed to modern theories, and generally works fine even if you've never heard of Torosaurus, didn't know that the Velociraptor portrayed in Jurassic Park is actually Deinonychus, or couldn't tell the difference between an ornithischian and a saurischian dinosaur if your life depended on it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jaksen

    My second five-star in one day! I love dinosaurs. Really I do. If I hadn't been a science teacher, I'd have been a paleontologist. In fact, when the science curriculum changed to include 'early Earth history,' I was ecstatic! Anyhow, Mr. Switek covers a myriad of 'in the news' dinosaur stories; in other words, a lot of the 'new stuff,' though he also mentions how ideas and theories concerning dinosaurs and the world they lived in has changed. He covers dinosaur sex - like how DID they do it? And My second five-star in one day! I love dinosaurs. Really I do. If I hadn't been a science teacher, I'd have been a paleontologist. In fact, when the science curriculum changed to include 'early Earth history,' I was ecstatic! Anyhow, Mr. Switek covers a myriad of 'in the news' dinosaur stories; in other words, a lot of the 'new stuff,' though he also mentions how ideas and theories concerning dinosaurs and the world they lived in has changed. He covers dinosaur sex - like how DID they do it? And the relationship between dinosaurs and birds - what about all those feathers? Then there's their coloration, which we would 'never ever be able to figure out' until guess what - scientists are doing now. Then extinction and fossils sites and of course, the author's irrepressible love for the subject. (Really, he needs to get into a program and get his Ph.D.) Anyhow, it's a great book, fairly current (published 2013), and I always look forward to reading his articles online, too. I OWN this book! Five stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Blamp Head

    Reading this book, one is forced to ponder which theories relating to dinosaur lives will stay in vogue, and which will become extinct... --- So I popped back to the Mesozoic Era the other day. Stepped out of the time machine and slammed headlong into a Brontosaurus. Quite a feat to not notice it, given their enormity. "People doubt your species' existence!" I broke the devastating news to the Brontosaurus, "They say you're just an Apatosaurus!" Poor Brontosaurus hung its looooong neck in shame, alm Reading this book, one is forced to ponder which theories relating to dinosaur lives will stay in vogue, and which will become extinct... --- So I popped back to the Mesozoic Era the other day. Stepped out of the time machine and slammed headlong into a Brontosaurus. Quite a feat to not notice it, given their enormity. "People doubt your species' existence!" I broke the devastating news to the Brontosaurus, "They say you're just an Apatosaurus!" Poor Brontosaurus hung its looooong neck in shame, almost tipping over. It burst into tears, and I moved on. I stumbled into a Stegosaurus, that horrifyingly huge herbivore with plates along its back, reputed to be the stupidest of the dinosaurs. My curiosity about something rather, ahem, 'intimate' got the better of me. "Hey there! Walnut brain! How on Earth do you manage it?" I asked. "Uh? Eh? 'Choo looking at, hairy thing?" "I was just wondering how you manage... You know. To have kids." "Beats me. Never knew where they came from neither." "Guh! Thanks for nothing." I moved on, hoping to learn more about social behaviours of dinosaurs. Did they rear the young? Did they herd? Or were they more solitary? With such variety in species, I couldn't hope to find out about all of them. I stumbled into a group of Velociraptors, tiny nasty beasts, who eyed me hungrily. Oddly, they were wearing feathery head gear, the trendiest around. When I looked at them curiously, one of them nodded apologetically. "This head gear's been in fashion for, gee, maybe ten, fifteen years?" "Oh fair enough," I mumbled. Then a thought struck. "Hey! Do you look after your kids as they grow up?" I inquired, peering hopefully at one of the taller ones, assuming it was an adult. "Shut up!" I'd apparently chanced upon a sullen teen. Good one. It was just so hard to tell. "Are you a boy or a girl?" I asked. "ISN'T IT OBVIOUS?!" he/she/it huffed. I didn't want to say "No" so I shuffled off, deflated. This really wasn't answering any of the questions that the book had speculated about at all. I'd read the book, I'd been and SEEN the dinosaurs, and still I don't know anything. Geez. I tried to think of something to comfort myself with, for my expedition hadn't been going so well... at least now I know what colours dinosaurs were. I should record that info somewhere if I remember. Anyway. So next I wondered how dinosaurs became [or will become] extinct. So I went to a place off Mexico. First I noticed birds flying by. Or do I mean avian dinosaurs? Whatever. Anyway. Mexico. There was the biggest construction site ever. Dinosaurs digging the hugest crater! "Hehe," a cunning Tyrannosaur chortled to itself, wiggling its little arms for emphasis, which managed to emphasise exactly nothing other than the fact that the dinosaur had tiny arms. "All this iridium we're sticking in the ground here and across the globe will make for some swell speculation about how we disappeared." I was shocked. This was nothing like what I imagined. "EXCUSE ME!" I shouted up to the huge carnivore, "I'm from the future, and I'm wondering how you all die... You know, after all this." "What? What do you mean?" he/she/it peered down at me, looking like he/she/it was trying to decide if I was interesting, or if I would, in fact, be more interesting once gobbled down. "I read about it," I elaborated. "In the future... People will speculate about what happened. Some crazies say aliens. Most say a meteorite. Some say a flood. Global warming. Volcanoes. Some say you just got bored and gave up the ghost. Some even say you just lost your sex drive!" The Tyrannosaur actually LOLed. Which is most undignified of a dinosaur. "What's so funny?" "Oh Em Gee, man. You humans... so crazy. We'll never go extinct." "Huh? Look, I'm from the future, think I'd know." "We're not extinct. Dinosaurs live in your times. Ever heard of Rupert Murdoch? Donald Trump? The Rolling Stones?"

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Lots of fun. A little bit dated... lots of newly discovered dinosaur bones are helping us come closer to solving lots of mysteries all the time and so seven years is quite awhile. But the author is a journalist more than a scientist, and so he asks the underlying questions about what dinos and other prehistoric beasts mean to us, both to our evolutionary development and to our sense of curiosity & wonder. news to me, to look further: alvarezsaur therizinosaur Tully monster (candidate for Loch Ness m Lots of fun. A little bit dated... lots of newly discovered dinosaur bones are helping us come closer to solving lots of mysteries all the time and so seven years is quite awhile. But the author is a journalist more than a scientist, and so he asks the underlying questions about what dinos and other prehistoric beasts mean to us, both to our evolutionary development and to our sense of curiosity & wonder. news to me, to look further: alvarezsaur therizinosaur Tully monster (candidate for Loch Ness monster) new info to me: Some therapods were omnivores, even herbivores. Archosauria was dinos and other 'ruling reptiles' but now it's just birds and crocodilians... the question is Why? Quotable: "The best package of survival traits is meaningless if the individual animal in possession of those characteristics never breeds."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A most enjoyable read, following Brian Switek as he travels to museums and excavation sites to gain a better understanding of the dinosaurs. He explores everything from the sex lives of the dinos to their feathers to their extinction. It looks like it was the meteor that hit Earth that finished them off. Interesting to think that without that meteor the dinos would still be dominating the planet while the mammals are hiding from them during the day, coming out only during the night. Switek also A most enjoyable read, following Brian Switek as he travels to museums and excavation sites to gain a better understanding of the dinosaurs. He explores everything from the sex lives of the dinos to their feathers to their extinction. It looks like it was the meteor that hit Earth that finished them off. Interesting to think that without that meteor the dinos would still be dominating the planet while the mammals are hiding from them during the day, coming out only during the night. Switek also discusses why the famed Brontosaurus underwent a name change. I visited the Field Museum recently and, while talking about the dinosaurs with someone, I could not bring myself to say "Apatasaurus." The big guy will always be Brontosaurus, the thunder lizard, to me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Gryder

    Mr. Switek is without a doubt infatuated with dinosaurs. As someone who tries to notice and keep up with new discoveries and dinosaur news, I was excited to pick this book up. Unfortunately Switek's child like giddiness for dinosaurs is replaced with a sour grapes, holier than thou adult view of the of the field. This book could have been awesome but ended up being a big corprolite. Mr. Switek is without a doubt infatuated with dinosaurs. As someone who tries to notice and keep up with new discoveries and dinosaur news, I was excited to pick this book up. Unfortunately Switek's child like giddiness for dinosaurs is replaced with a sour grapes, holier than thou adult view of the of the field. This book could have been awesome but ended up being a big corprolite.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    http://theprettygoodgatsby.wordpress.... Let's face it: dinosaurs have been culturally demarcated as kitschy kid stuff - triggers for nostalgia and ironic whimsy, but not a subject to take seriously. Unfortunately, Mr. Switek isn't wrong. A fascination with dinosaurs is practically a rite of passage for children - I know I certainly spent the better part of my childhood obsessing over prehistoric creatures. That same fascination as an adult, however, seems to be frowned upon and shamed. Switek him http://theprettygoodgatsby.wordpress.... Let's face it: dinosaurs have been culturally demarcated as kitschy kid stuff - triggers for nostalgia and ironic whimsy, but not a subject to take seriously. Unfortunately, Mr. Switek isn't wrong. A fascination with dinosaurs is practically a rite of passage for children - I know I certainly spent the better part of my childhood obsessing over prehistoric creatures. That same fascination as an adult, however, seems to be frowned upon and shamed. Switek himself mentions these dinosaur-loving adults are seen as little more than oversized children playing in the dirt. With My Beloved Brontosaurus, Switek sheds light on the world of paleontology and shows just how serious these scientists are. "Brontosaurus" as I knew the beast - a hulking pile of flesh and bone that bathed in Jurassic swamps - never actually existed. Almost everything about the monstrous creature - its lifestyle, its skull, and, most regrettably, its name - were human inventions drawn from prehistoric skeletons that actually supported a different form. I had been fooled! The dinosaur I met was a petrified museum zombie, shuffling on even though scientists had shot it down decades before. Brontosaurus, T. rex, Triceratops. All dinosaurs we fondly remember, right? I, for one, remember that dark day when I learned Brontosaurus was the dinosaur that never was: an error in labeling and classifying fossils led to this hulking beast being declared its own species, when in fact, it was an Apatosaurus all along. Switek also felt a loss and openly discusses his feelings regarding one of the most beloved dinosaurs. At only 200 pages, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a lovely, bite-size bit of pop-science. Each chapter is dedicated to a different mystery surrounding dinosaurs: what color they were, their feathers, how they mated (cue much immature giggling on my end), what they sounded like, just how the extinction came about. Despite an abundance of scientific info and terminology, Switek has the ability to write in a way that I never felt lost or confused. I didn't feel in over my head and I'm sure that aspect alone will appeal to many people. Throughout the book I learned SO much! Things I had never even considered were suddenly brought to the forefront and I was thrilled. While I had been aware of certain dinosaurs having feathers - I'm looking at you, Mr. Velociraptor - I was shocked to learn that it's now speculated that the majority of dinosaurs had at least a coating of fuzz. Sit back and conjure up an image of a fuzzy Tyrannosaurus charging at you. When I finished My Beloved Brontosaurus I was overwhelmed by the thought of just how little is known about these creatures and their time on earth. So many significant discoveries were made in just the past two years alone! Scientists have begun testing fossils to determine dinosaurs' coloring and those images we're all familiar with? It's now known that those dinosaurs were juveniles . From birth to death, dinosaurs changed so rapidly that what were originally thought to be completely separate species are now thought to be one and the same. Torosaurus, for example, is now being proposed as the fully formed, mature Triceratops. Interspersed with many Jurassic Park scenes (in which Switek deftly separates fact from fiction), as well as a Star Wars moment or two, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a wonderfully smart book that can be easily digested with only a bare minimum of previous dinosaurs knowledge - in fact, I think Switek would prefer the reader NOT to have those false, preconceived beliefs. No longer are dinosaurs slow-moving, dim-witted mountains of flesh. Make way for a new breed of creature: agile, smart, capable of tracking prey. I'm pleased to say the age of the dinosaur is back. An added bonus is the SUPER AWESOME dusk jacket! It unfolds to become a poster!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    The library had quite a few copies of this book on display, so I picked one up. When I was younger one of my biggest fears was that a giant T-Rex would come stomping over the mountains, smashing the cities to bits, and then end up in my yard intending me for a snack. I haven't kept up too much with what is going on in the dinosaur world lately. I have vague memories of raptors in Jurassic Park (I thought - are they new?). I remember when Brontosaurus was no longer a dinosaur. And somewhere along The library had quite a few copies of this book on display, so I picked one up. When I was younger one of my biggest fears was that a giant T-Rex would come stomping over the mountains, smashing the cities to bits, and then end up in my yard intending me for a snack. I haven't kept up too much with what is going on in the dinosaur world lately. I have vague memories of raptors in Jurassic Park (I thought - are they new?). I remember when Brontosaurus was no longer a dinosaur. And somewhere along the way, I heard that dinosaurs had feathers. I was hoping that this book would catch me up to date on recent dinosaur findings and new trends of thought. It did do that, but I had a hard time following the narration because this is basically a book of musings about dinosaurs as the author travels the country going to different sites. I need a timeline somewhere. I can't remember from being a kid exactly when the Jurassic period occurred. I'm hazy on what Mesozoic means. This books assumes you know a lot of that and he's basically just bringing you up to speed on a few new points. I ended up a bit confused, skipping around from dinosaur to dinosaur, time period to time period. I need to find another book now, one that goes from point A to point B to point C. And one with bigger illustrations I can actually see.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    16th book for 2018. Written by dinosaur fanatic and science writer Brian Switek, this book was too chatty for me. I prefer books were the author is a little less front and center, and are even richer details, which tend to come from books written by scientists, rather than science journalists. However, the book does offer a useful overview of scientific knowledge as of 2013, covering topics as diverse as evidence for behavioral characteristics (including sex), the apparent misclassification of ju 16th book for 2018. Written by dinosaur fanatic and science writer Brian Switek, this book was too chatty for me. I prefer books were the author is a little less front and center, and are even richer details, which tend to come from books written by scientists, rather than science journalists. However, the book does offer a useful overview of scientific knowledge as of 2013, covering topics as diverse as evidence for behavioral characteristics (including sex), the apparent misclassification of juveniles as separate species in a number of cases, and a rehash of the K/T extinction event (though not much about other relevant mesozoic extinctions), plus the latest evidence for feathers and their coloration. 3-stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    J.S.

    Like most kids - or boys, at least - I was in love with dinosaurs. My favorite was Triceratops. I still remember visiting the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah when I was about 5 years old. When I had a son of my own I went back so he could see it (which resulted in him wanting to be a paleontologist until he was around 12). I drew numerous pictures of dinosaurs (some of which I still have, and yeah, they're pretty bad) and the stuffed animal I slept with (until I got sick o Like most kids - or boys, at least - I was in love with dinosaurs. My favorite was Triceratops. I still remember visiting the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah when I was about 5 years old. When I had a son of my own I went back so he could see it (which resulted in him wanting to be a paleontologist until he was around 12). I drew numerous pictures of dinosaurs (some of which I still have, and yeah, they're pretty bad) and the stuffed animal I slept with (until I got sick one night and threw up on him) was a little blue Brontosaurus (my mom tried to wash him, but he was never the same). I even avoided any commercials for "Jurassic Park" before it came out because I didn't want to ruin the experience - then I went on opening night so nobody could tell me about it. As an adult (or a close approximation of one) I no longer spend my time doodling dinosaurs or wondering where I can find a fossil, but I still wonder about and find them interesting, and this book was a nice read. Brian Switek is obsessive and writes about them in a way that is easily understood. And he covers a lot of topics, such as did they really have feathers, what color were they, and what did they sound like, as well as what happened to Brontosaurus? (The bones that were described as "Brontosaurus" had previously been described as "Apatasaurus.") And he explains very clearly why it's so hard to assemble a skeleton, because dinosaur skeletons are rarely found intact; once the animal died, it was usually scavenged and eaten by others. The writing is clear and understandable, and while there's a little bit of travelogue in it, it's entertaining and not overdone. This is, however, a book for grownups. It's not written anywhere near a childs level (and pictures are minimal) and has occasional profanities, plus he covers... umm, theories of how dinosaurs mated. So, this isn't the kind of book you'll want to purchase for a 7 year old, but if you're still interested enough (like me) to read a relatively short and easily understood book, you might want to buy it for yourself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    The author of this book has an allosaurus tattoo (and, I googled him, has two other dinosaur tattoos to match). Did I love this book before he disclosed that fact? Yes. Did it heighten my enjoyment of this book? Considerably. I'm exaggerating - I would have adored this book whether or not the author was bedecked in dinosaur skin decoration. There's a whole chapter on dinosaur sex!!! Both my college roommates are deeply relieved that they're no longer living with me and will not be held captive as The author of this book has an allosaurus tattoo (and, I googled him, has two other dinosaur tattoos to match). Did I love this book before he disclosed that fact? Yes. Did it heighten my enjoyment of this book? Considerably. I'm exaggerating - I would have adored this book whether or not the author was bedecked in dinosaur skin decoration. There's a whole chapter on dinosaur sex!!! Both my college roommates are deeply relieved that they're no longer living with me and will not be held captive as I wax poetic about my newly learned Dino Sex Fun Facts. Goddammit, I really wanna be friends with Brian Switek. Man knows a thing or two about dinosaurs (or two hundred pages worth, rather). I just really, really loved this book. I learned a whole ton, and the book was well-written (A+ chapter transitions, Switek), and now I kind of also want a dinosaur tattoo in addition to all the other tattoos I kind of want but am not decisive enough to get. I am a lesser man than Switek. This isn't any sort of review at all, just me waving the book in your face and urging you to go ahead and read it already.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    The BOOK JACKET becomes a POSTER. The title is great. And the book is just enormous fun. There's not a lot of news in here that will surprise a person who has rabidly been keeping up with dinosaur news lately, but if you've momentarily allowed yourself to be distracted by something like your job, family, or keeping your life under control, this is a great update on everything you wouldn't want to miss. Even if you are up to date on your dino facts, this is a delightful refresher, and it's nice t The BOOK JACKET becomes a POSTER. The title is great. And the book is just enormous fun. There's not a lot of news in here that will surprise a person who has rabidly been keeping up with dinosaur news lately, but if you've momentarily allowed yourself to be distracted by something like your job, family, or keeping your life under control, this is a great update on everything you wouldn't want to miss. Even if you are up to date on your dino facts, this is a delightful refresher, and it's nice to have all the news in one place with some fun backstory added in. Highly recommended, to the point that I can't understand why it's taken so long for such a book to come out. Engagingly written for a lay audience, and not as technical as his Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature, everyone should read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Okay, if you can get past the title and embarrassing cover illustration (now I know how people felt trying to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" in public), this is an EXCELLENT update for any childhood dino-nerds who haven't been keeping up with the latest discoveries. Very readable, enjoyable style, but chock full of good science and interesting anecdotes, many falling into the "everything you thought you knew is wrong" category. Pachycephalosaurus probably didn't butt heads? Triceratops was just an Okay, if you can get past the title and embarrassing cover illustration (now I know how people felt trying to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" in public), this is an EXCELLENT update for any childhood dino-nerds who haven't been keeping up with the latest discoveries. Very readable, enjoyable style, but chock full of good science and interesting anecdotes, many falling into the "everything you thought you knew is wrong" category. Pachycephalosaurus probably didn't butt heads? Triceratops was just an adolescent Torosaurus, (or more correctly, Torosaurus was just a mature Triceratops, since it's Triceratops that kept its name)? And T. Rex was either feathered or at least fuzzy?? Great stuff!! Like a lot of the non-fiction I've read recently and with so many great new animals described, this could have used a lot more pictures. But punch any of those names into Google Image and you'll get everything you need.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denis

    This book does a wonderful job of reexamining all that has changed in our understanding of dinosaurs since I was a kid and doing it from a place of love for dinosaurs that rejoices in knowing them better, even if it means setting aside things like the "beloved brontosaurus". I did find the chattiness of the memoir elements of the book to be a bit much, but that conversational style worked much better when Switek was focused on dinosaurs rather than himself, and his humor and enthusiasm brightens This book does a wonderful job of reexamining all that has changed in our understanding of dinosaurs since I was a kid and doing it from a place of love for dinosaurs that rejoices in knowing them better, even if it means setting aside things like the "beloved brontosaurus". I did find the chattiness of the memoir elements of the book to be a bit much, but that conversational style worked much better when Switek was focused on dinosaurs rather than himself, and his humor and enthusiasm brightens every page. The book also contains what is currently the leading candidate for best parenthetical aside that I've read this year: (Sadly, finding a dinosaur clitoris seems as unlikely as finding a fossil penis. Some problems are eternal.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Holly Bik

    The author has a wonderful, infectious enthusiasm for dinosaurs - and it's contagious. I guarantee you'll come away from this book a little bit dino-obsessed. I really had no idea how much we know (and continue to learn) about dinosaurs - technology is really changing the field of paleontology. Be warned: you'll be constantly googling dinosaur names while reading; but this is worth it, and you'll get to see the variety of weird forms that evolution produced. The author has a wonderful, infectious enthusiasm for dinosaurs - and it's contagious. I guarantee you'll come away from this book a little bit dino-obsessed. I really had no idea how much we know (and continue to learn) about dinosaurs - technology is really changing the field of paleontology. Be warned: you'll be constantly googling dinosaur names while reading; but this is worth it, and you'll get to see the variety of weird forms that evolution produced.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aharon

    You know how you talk to a guy who's passionate about some topic, and it's really cool to talk to someone so knowledgeable and excited, but then it gets kind of hard because he keeps flitting from thing to thing and repeating himself because he assumes you know both more and less than you actually do? This is that in book form. You know how you talk to a guy who's passionate about some topic, and it's really cool to talk to someone so knowledgeable and excited, but then it gets kind of hard because he keeps flitting from thing to thing and repeating himself because he assumes you know both more and less than you actually do? This is that in book form.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    An outrageously fascinating, well-written, and engaging examination of some of the most current dinosaur science, told in a knowledgeable and relatable style. This book catapulted to the top of my favorite paleontological reads as I turned the pages, and I can recommend it to anybody interested in the field. A winner!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    This isn't really a review of the book (though I did enjoy it), but an update on the writer, who currently writes as Riley Black: http://rileyblack.net/about-riley -- and wrote an interesting article on their coming out as transgender last year (2019): https://www.nature.com/articles/d4158... Who knew? This isn't really a review of the book (though I did enjoy it), but an update on the writer, who currently writes as Riley Black: http://rileyblack.net/about-riley -- and wrote an interesting article on their coming out as transgender last year (2019): https://www.nature.com/articles/d4158... Who knew?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emma Townshend

    If you like popular science, roadtrips, or dinosaurs (COME ON YOU MUST LIKE ONE OF THOSE) you should read this. Incredibly good fun and the excellent scientific info goes in without you noticing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bradplumer

    Like anyone who, as a kid, had dinosaur books and dinosaur sheets and dinosaur pajamas and dinosaur toys and dinosaur dreams, I can get a bit defensive on the subject of modern-day dinosaur science. Anytime paleontologists announce that, hey, T. Rex was actually just a scavenger or, wow, dinosaurs had fur and feathers — that doesn't sit well. This isn't how I imagined dinosaurs growing up. This isn't cool. This isn't right. But Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus has convinced me it's time to Like anyone who, as a kid, had dinosaur books and dinosaur sheets and dinosaur pajamas and dinosaur toys and dinosaur dreams, I can get a bit defensive on the subject of modern-day dinosaur science. Anytime paleontologists announce that, hey, T. Rex was actually just a scavenger or, wow, dinosaurs had fur and feathers — that doesn't sit well. This isn't how I imagined dinosaurs growing up. This isn't cool. This isn't right. But Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus has convinced me it's time to let go of that knee-jerk dino-nostalgia. We're currently in a golden age of dinosaur science. We're learning things about dinosaurs we never thought it'd be possible to learn: The way dinosaurs communicated, the way they had sex, why they became Earth's dominant life form for hundreds of millions of years. And some of the things scientists are finding will upset our fond childhood memories of dinosaurs. But that's okay, says Switek, an engaging dino-fanatic with boundless curiosity who confesses to the exact same pangs of nostalgia. The journey is worth it. The mere fact that there were ever dinosaurs at all is shocking, when you think about it. They lived on Earth for an unfathomably long period: Humans are actually closer in time to Tyrannosaurus rex (which lived about 65 million years ago) than T. Rex was to Apatosaurus (about 85 million years between them). And dinosaurs assumed a staggering number of diverse forms. Some of them grew so large they pressed the limits of biology. Evolution went wild. And we still have only a very crude understanding of that diversity. Fossils are relatively few and hard to interpret. That confusion occasionally spills over into pop culture: Most dino-enthusiasts know that the popular Brontosaurus species turned out to be a fake, based on an incorrectly assembled skeleton. But there are plenty of similar stories. For example: Scientists once thought that tiny Oviraptor was a sneaky egg thief, after finding a skeleton of one in Mongolia on top of what appeared to be large Protoceratops eggs. But that's a rather thin clue, and subsequent evidence suggests that those might have actually been Oviraptor eggs—the species was framed! The mother was protecting her own, refusing to leave in a deadly sandstorm. Yet the name, which literally means "egg seizer," stuck. Or: Scientists used to suspect that Deinonychus hunted in packs — the way they did in Jurassic Park. (Michael Crichton mislabeled the charismatic creatures Velociraptors after reading an outdated scientific text.) But this was largely based on a some fossil evidence that suggested a pack of them had taken down a Tentosaurus. In fact, the Deinonychus may have most frequently killed each other in competition for food. Or: Scientists used to think there were two distinct species of horned, frilled dinosaurs: Triceratops and Torosaurus. The latter had holes in its frill and a less-distinct nose horn. But now some scientists think Torosaurus might just be a fully mature Triceratops — its bone structure simply changed as it grew older. Some of the creatures we think of as distinct species may, in fact, be the same species at different phases of their lives. Occasionally, our cognitive biases get in the way of our ability to interpret dinosaur fossils. For a long time, scientists thought Pachycephelosaurus used the hard dome on top of its head to butt rival males. Why did they think this? Well, big-horned rams do this. But why should dinosaurs be similar to the animals we happen to be familiar with? And if Pachycephelosaurus was head-butting each other all the time, shouldn't there be signs of trauma? Flaws emerged in the story, and paleontologists began to revise the picture as new evidence poured in. The domes may have been used to identify each other, and only occasionally used for defense. There's lots of that in the book. Paleontology is hard detective work, sussing out theories from extremely limited clues. Often scientists have to be extremely creative. They'll build 3-D models to try and figure out how two spiky stegosaurs could possibly have sex without impaling each other (we still don't know). They'll search through coprolite (fossilized dinosaur shit) for evidence of parasites. They'll pore over skull trauma to find evidence that T. Rex fought by biting each other in the face. Even the final snuffing out of the dinosaurs remains a mystery. For a long time, paleontologists assumed that climate change and outsized volcanic eruptions had killed off the dinosaurs once and for all. Some scientists even offered additional theories—a horde of caterpillars destroyed the vegetation, or maybe the dinosaurs eventually ate each other. Perhaps they just weren't up to evolutionary snuff. Then evidence emerged of a massive meteor hitting the Earth at the end of the Cretaceous. Breakthrough! But even now the case isn't closed. Exactly how did the meteor kill off all the dinosaurs all over the world? What was the precise mechanism? Dinosaurs in North America would have been "flash fried" by the fierce impact, but what about those in Asia? Paleontologists don't just speculate, of course. They search for evidence. (The clues of a meteor impact came from an examination of deposits of iridium in geological layers.) But imagination has to play a large role here. And the way we've imagined dinosaurs has changed dramatically over time, driven by fresh evidence, new fossil finds, our own biases, and our shifting ability to conceive of a world so drastically unlike our own. It's hard to imagine that the dinosaurs I knew and loved as kids will stay the same as scientists keep digging. (I counted at least eight places in this book that suggest that Jurassic Park was wildly wrong on key details — for one, a T. Rex could likely never hear humans screaming, as the bones in its ear couldn't pick up the frequency.) And I never thought I'd say this, but that's fine by me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katie Whitt

    I decided to try to read more Nonfiction this year, which wasn't going great until I realized I needed to read NF books about things I'm actually interested in, like I did when I was a kid and read every book my local library had on dinosaurs/animals. This one was recommended to me by another dino-obsessed friend and it did not disappoint! A part of me still wishes I'd become a paleontologist, and get to see all the amazing places and specimens described in this book, plus Switek's obvious enthu I decided to try to read more Nonfiction this year, which wasn't going great until I realized I needed to read NF books about things I'm actually interested in, like I did when I was a kid and read every book my local library had on dinosaurs/animals. This one was recommended to me by another dino-obsessed friend and it did not disappoint! A part of me still wishes I'd become a paleontologist, and get to see all the amazing places and specimens described in this book, plus Switek's obvious enthusiasm and passion for his work comes through clearly in this book, in an infectious way. He touches on topics I'd never really thought about, like dinosaur sex and how well they were able to see/hear, which were fascinating in themselves but also in learning about how scientists are trying to answer these questions. Nothing makes you feel smaller (in a good way) than reading about the giants of the past!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This book was recommended to me during a conversation I had with a scientist from the St. Louis Science Center. I loved it! I haven't read much at all about dinosaurs since I was a child, but in the past year or so, I've had a few encounters with prehistoric evidence that has rekindled my interest in the era. This book was super-accessible and endlessly fascinating (and funny, to boot). It's going to be hard not to be annoying if I hear misinformation about dinos and I want to jump in. And I'll This book was recommended to me during a conversation I had with a scientist from the St. Louis Science Center. I loved it! I haven't read much at all about dinosaurs since I was a child, but in the past year or so, I've had a few encounters with prehistoric evidence that has rekindled my interest in the era. This book was super-accessible and endlessly fascinating (and funny, to boot). It's going to be hard not to be annoying if I hear misinformation about dinos and I want to jump in. And I'll probably be calling birds "tiny dinosaurs" from here on out--head's up on that one. The audiobook was fantastic, too, if you can get your hands on it. BTW--she also recommended How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature, so I have high hopes.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Not very smart, Not very quick, Not nearly as wise as our friend Moby Dick. -"Brontosaurus," Our Dinosaur Friends record, 1978 Reading this book was a real joy. The author seems to be approximately the same age as I, so it was a lot of fun to reminisce about the TV specials, movies, and whatnot that was part of being a dino-obsessed kid in the 1980s. Like many kids, I went through a period of wanting to be a paleontologist; unlike me, Switek actually realized his childhood dream and studies prehisto Not very smart, Not very quick, Not nearly as wise as our friend Moby Dick. -"Brontosaurus," Our Dinosaur Friends record, 1978 Reading this book was a real joy. The author seems to be approximately the same age as I, so it was a lot of fun to reminisce about the TV specials, movies, and whatnot that was part of being a dino-obsessed kid in the 1980s. Like many kids, I went through a period of wanting to be a paleontologist; unlike me, Switek actually realized his childhood dream and studies prehistoric beasties for a living.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    A neat look at some longheld (and largely incorrect) thoughts on dinosaurs, and an interesting take on why we are so fascinated by them today. I learned a lot, and thought way more about dinosaur sex than I would have believed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hattie Elizabeth

    Brian Switek does a fantastic job at writing a book that isn’t so technical you don’t have a clue what it’s on about, and writing a book that at times had me snorting into my coffee cup. As someone who is a fiend for books about evolution, dinosaurs and pre history this was a great read from start to end and had me engaged throughout the whole thing. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves dinosaurs 🦕

  29. 4 out of 5

    MB Taylor

    I really enjoyed this; reading books like this make me wonder why I don't read more natural history. Switek has a conversational style, that helps make the book easy to understand. I wish it were more lavishly illustrated; the few illustrations are all gray-scale images and frequently too small. My Beloved Brontosaurus is about how our perception of dinosaurs has evolved since their fossils were first discovered. The slow dumb dinosaurs of my youth have been replaced with agile high metabolism c I really enjoyed this; reading books like this make me wonder why I don't read more natural history. Switek has a conversational style, that helps make the book easy to understand. I wish it were more lavishly illustrated; the few illustrations are all gray-scale images and frequently too small. My Beloved Brontosaurus is about how our perception of dinosaurs has evolved since their fossils were first discovered. The slow dumb dinosaurs of my youth have been replaced with agile high metabolism creatures covered with feathers (or at least feather prototypes). Interesting, my oldest daughter told me not too long ago that she'd read/heard that Triceratops were no more; that the name no longer applied to any fossils. Unfortunately she remembered no details and some quick web searching found nothing. Puzzled, I let the topic drop to dwell in the just at conscious level. Happily, this book explains the story. (Triceratops are still with us, although Torosauruses may not be for much longer. And dinosaurs change much more than I might have thought throughout their lives.) The really interesting parts to me were the explanations of how scientists manage to glean amazing amounts of information from the fossilized remains. For example, it astounds me that the fossilization process manages to reproduce the bone structure so exactly that the growth patterns are still visible. This book has lots of little tidbits that I found fascinating. The chapter on dinosaur reproduction, for example, points out that "no one has yet found an unequivocal case [of sexual dimorphism in dinosaurs]".

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maitrey

    My Beloved Brontosaurus was a quick read dealing with a renewed obsession of mine: dinosaurs. Brian Switek blogs for National Geographic on all things prehistoric, and I've been following him for a while a now and decided to give his new book a try. True to his blogging skills, Switek makes this book a breeze to read through. Like it says on the tin, the book is part travelogue and part science. Most of it rehashes what we know about dinosaurs and how our views have changed over the last hundred y My Beloved Brontosaurus was a quick read dealing with a renewed obsession of mine: dinosaurs. Brian Switek blogs for National Geographic on all things prehistoric, and I've been following him for a while a now and decided to give his new book a try. True to his blogging skills, Switek makes this book a breeze to read through. Like it says on the tin, the book is part travelogue and part science. Most of it rehashes what we know about dinosaurs and how our views have changed over the last hundred years. Controversies such as the naming of Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus and newer ones such as the Triceratops/Torosaurus one are revisited and explained. The best bits are easily the ones dealing with Switek's fascination with bonebeds. Every one of them is like the ultimate murder mystery filled with hundreds of dinosaurs' (some even with thousands!) bones, lying all jumbled up. Switek also accurately summarises what we now know about the famous asteroid impact theory and dinosaur extinction. Dino-fuzz and feathers are also explained and how new research points out that nearly all dino lineages had some kind of feathers was a revelation to me. Quite a bit of the book deals with dino-pop-culture, which as an Indian reader who is a generation younger than Switek, I did not connect with at all. Except for, of course, Jurassic Park (this part Switek clearly wrote before the news for the new movie was out). The book is an excellent nostalgic trip through childhood, dinosaurs and science. It is also a great refresher for people who want to read about dinosaurs but are too scared to pick up a hefty tome about new research.

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