Two and a half years ago I posted a review of a new book – his first – from science blogger Brian Switek (Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature). While his blog Laelaps has moved around a bit (now at National Geographic), he’s still my go to source for analysis for new studies in paleontology. I am happy to share that Brian has published a second book:
My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, by Brian Switek (New York: Scientific American, 2013), 272 pp.
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.
Read can read some reviews from Chad Orzel and scicurious, read pieces by Brian about the book at Slate and io9, read chapter 7 “Birds with Feathers” in a free excerpt from the NCSE, or listen to Brian read an excerpt:
Brian will be at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR on May 22, 7:30pm (info). I look forward to attending his book talk with my son, who, like Brian and myself, loves dinosaurs.