Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs; Steve Brusatte; 2018; Harper Collins; 349 pgs; index, notes
If we ignore DJ Trump, we live in the best of times. I am fascinated by the world of dinosaurs and their kin. We have been masters of the Earth for a few thousand years. The dinosaurs were on top for 150 million years. They are still with us today as birds… a little less dangerous than T. Rex.
Steve Brusatte is a young enthusiastic paleontologist. He is probably the best writer on the subject I have read. His book is not a who-dun-it like books on the fate of the dinosaurs, but rather an epic tale of natures forces and dumb luck clashing together. It ends, of course, with the Yucatan impact of a 6 mile across asteroid or comet 65 million years ago.
We are in the best of times because we have learned more about dinosaurs since I was born than we ever knew before. One hundred years ago, if you found a rock that might contain a fossil, you could spend months trying to free it from its matrix of rock only to find a common bone. Today, scientists can run it through a CT scan and find out in minutes. Ground penetrating radar can let researchers look underground without having to dig. And, of course, computer modeling has vastly improved our understanding of how these animals lived and died.
There is no appreciable jargon used. It is just a fine, engrossing read that gives good picture of our current understanding of the subject and a look at the people who will dominate it for the next few decades,
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Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.