I am reliably informed that a book I wrote during 2008 – The Great Dinosaur Discoveries (A & C Black, 2009) – is now out and available in the shops.
If you like my stuff you will, hopefully, want to own a copy: it’s high quality, very nicely illustrated, and not all that expensive. While dinosaur books are typically arranged in either phylogenetic or geological fashion, my aim with The Great Dinosaur Discoveries was to show how our knowledge and understanding of dinosaurs has itself evolved over the decades. This sort of thing has only really been done a few times before. Ned Colbert looked at the history of dinosaur science in his 1969 Men and Dinosaurs, and John Gilbert did likewise in the extremely poorly known Dinosaurs Discovered (Hamlyn, 1979). Desmond’s The Hot Blooded Dinosaurs is also notable for its strong historical narrative.
Anyway, while I was planning to write at great length about the book and its contents, I just haven’t had time. For now I’ll note that I tried to include a lot of stuff in the book that hasn’t been covered much before. In addition to such familiar subjects as Osborn and the discovery of Tyrannosaurus rex, Janensch and the Tendaguru sauropods, and Nopcsa’s Transylvanian dinosaurs, I also included such things as the recognition of heterodontosaurids, the discovery of Pelecanimimus, alvarezsaurids, scansoriopterygids and Asian lambeosaurines, the ‘dinosaur renaissance’, Holtz’s ‘tyrannoraptor’ hypothesis, and something that I’ve termed ‘the South American sauropod explosion’.
When I have discussed ‘familiar’ subjects, I’ve tried to include as much unfamiliar material as possible: as an example, the section on the discovery of Iguanodon includes virtually unknown data on William Bensted’s substantial contribution on the ‘Mantel piece’, while the spread on Barnum Brown’s publication of Ankylosaurus discusses how he used parts of the stegosaur skeleton to fill in his reconstruction. Inclusion of data on the new CT-imaging work produced by the Witmer lab, and mentions of Skorpiovenator, Stokesosaurus langhami, Austroraptor and others, mean that the book is as up-to-date as we could make it. In addition to some fantastic photography, the book also features art by Todd Marshall, Julius Csotonyi, Luis Rey, Davide Bonadonna and others. I might be biased, but I think it looks awesome.
Alas, constraints meant that a huge number of planned spreads had to be axed, and the volume was originally going to be substantially more complete and representative. Inevitably there are a few mistakes, including some real howlers (the Triassic is in the Palaeozoic now? Yikes). But let’s not worry about those details. If you like the book, then please consider posting a review on Amazon. If you don’t like the book: well, the thing about dinosaur books is that there are an awful lot of them, so go find another one.
Order the book: Great Dinosaur Discoveries.