Review: The Rise and Falls of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte

Title: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

Author: Stephen Brusatte

Genre: Non-Fiction, Science

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The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.

In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.

My Thoughts:

I cannot for the life of me remember when I fell in love with dinosaurs. It was before I saw Jurassic Park for the first time, maybe it was the traumatic childhood experience of The Land Before Time?

That being said, somewhere along the lines, perhaps because of a lack of education or a dismissal of women in science, I lost that love.

This book reminded me why dinosaurs were one of my first loves. These amazing creatures, who have remained a mystery to me for so long suddenly make a bit more sense and somehow no sense at all.

The best thing about this book was that my worries about being unable to understand the contents were unfounded. It was written in a familiar way, stories being told about dinosaurs, and facts written so plainly that even someone like me could understand them.

The section on the size of sauropods and how the quite literally broke the mold was so great. Yet, finding out there are no animals around like them today left me with a melancholy feeling.

Learning about what the Palisades in NJ, and the Bay of Fundy here in Canada really are was a startling revelation about how we may all actually be standing on the shoulders of giants at any given time.

I also learned more about Pangea, and what I like to refer to as the great divide, when the Earth began to reform and resemble at least slightly the world and map we understand today.

I didn’t realize until reading this book that dinosaurs were held by their geography, much in the way species that exist today are limited on where they survive, a startling revelation I’m embarrassed to admit to.

The end of the dinosaurs made me emotional, imagining the world forever changing and the pain that would’ve been caused.

This book was a great insight into dinosaurs, and their descendants. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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