‘The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs’ by Steve Brusatte

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World

★★★★★

I love dinosaurs! And I had forgotten that until I read Brusatte’s excellent and engaging book. He is a professional paleontologist based in Edinburgh and he masterfully brings these monsters back to life, and I was gripped, as I rarely am by a non-fiction book and could not put it down.

As a child, I was a member of something called the Monster club, which was an actual business that sent subscribers booklets about imagined, real-life and noe extent monsters. My favorite ones were always about the dinosaurs. However, after having read this book, I have come to see that they are much more fascinating when you consider them not as monsters or, but as animals. Because then you have to confront the questions of how on earth they could become so minbugeling huge! And really, as Brunette describes the size of some of these creatures, you really cannot comprehend how large the beasts were.

Brunette has given us a very orderly account of the origins of the dinosaur’s and their demise. He writes about how they evolved, what others species shared the planet with them, how the major species lived and what their world would have looked like. Previous knowledge of paleontology is not needed, nor scientific knowledge – everything is explained in simple, everyday language. I learned lots about fossils, dinosaur lungs and the evolution of feathers of all things. I did know that present-day birds are relatives of the dinosaurs, but I had no idea that they were close relatives of the T.Rex and that the king of the dinosaurs probably was covered in feathers! Jurassic Park would have been so much different.

In between the accounts of giant meat-eaters and bizarre sauropods, Brusatte sprinkles his book with stories about famous paleontologists from the past and how , which is surprisingly interesting. He makes it clear that paleontologists are detectives working with very few clues, but are being extremely inventive and innovative in teasing out information from those bits of evidence. The info about Jurassic fauna or meteors, becomes much more interesting once you know a bit about how the scientists have come to believe it. There are also plenty of funny stories about the more eccentric dinosaur professionals, and it actually makes me want to attend one of their conferences.

I have nothing bad to say about this book. It is useful that it contains a family tree of the dinosaurs and a basic timeline, because Brusatte’s book covers a lot of species and a lot of time! The dinosaurs were around for 150 million years! I cannot really wrap my head around how long that actually is. And it sets some things into perspective; the modern human has only been around for 200 000 years, which is a drop in the ocean compared to how long the previous ruler’s of the earth were around. It is rather humbling.

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