The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, A Book Review

Dinosaurs… The largest animals to ever inhabit dry land in the history of Earth.

rise and fall of the dinosaurs review

How did they get that big, how did they keep warm, how did they even breathe enough oxygen to become that large? 

After reading a provocatively informative article about a new paleontology book on dinosaurs, my interest was piqued by yet another addition to the Jurassic Park Dinosaur Genre.  Except this one is filled with informative theories of how the dinosaurs actually lived instead of modern-day fiction.

 The book is called The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, A New History of a Lost World, By Steve Brusatte.  I know, LONG title, but it pretty much explains what the book is all about.

The author of this extraordinary work is a new inductee into the Paleontology Elite crew which consists of none other than the giants of the discipline, Robert Bakker, and Jack Horner, to name a few.

And I apologize for leaving all the rest of the paleontologists out as all have contributed much to the knowledge we have on the subject.

This is the layman’s explanation of what we know today as opposed to what we thought we knew even as little as 10 years ago, of the dinosaurs.  This is not a textbook, this is a very down to earth, easy to read, interpretation.  This is an expert’s view of the evolution of the dinosaurs, from the rat-sized little proto-dinos of the middle Triassic to the largest land-dwelling creatures ever to exist on our planet.

If only there were creatures this big on some of the earth-like planets we’ve discovered, we’d know in quick shorthand that we’re not alone in the universe.

rise and fall of the dinosaurs review

In recent years, paleontologists have made some incredible finds in the rocks around the world, including such remote sites as The Gobi Desert in China, and the high plains of South America.  These recent discoveries have revealed some amazing facts about where and when dinosaurs originated 265 million years ago, and in turn, allowed monumental assumptions about how they lived, breathed, and died.

Mr. Brusatte’s main argument is that everything we thought we knew of dinosaurs and how they interacted with their world is nowhere near what the facts have revealed.

Through his research of collecting and revisitation of the existing fossils, he’s come up with a very accurate definition of dinosaur existence.  He deftly explains how the dinosaurs did not dominate early on in their career, that they were living on the sidelines for many millions of years.

The transition from small cat-sized creatures to the thundering behemoths they evolved into took effort, time, and opportunity.  rise and fall of the dinosaurs review

He also reveals the assumption of dumb, evolutionarily dead-end brutes was also totally opposite of the truth.  To read this book is to take a tour through the 200 million year “Age of the Dinosaurs.”

From the middle of the Triassic, during which proto-dinosaurs weren’t anything to bet on in the great horserace of evolution to even get to the finish line, Brusatte takes us to the dawn of the Jurassic when those proto-dinos rose up on hind legs and began to inhabit the higher niches left when most of the larger reptilians of the Triassic went extinct.

Finally, he takes us into the middle and later Jurassic when the largest land animals to ever live on the Earth ruled the planet from the top of the food chain as no other animal did before or after.

Brusatte takes the reader through the life and times of T-Rex like no other author has been able to.  Theories abound and as new specimens are unearthed, theories fall, and other theories are contrived to fit the facts.  This theory makes the puzzle all come together.

Then Brusatte takes the reader right up to that fateful day 66 million years ago when all dinosaurs perished save the fledgling few bird lineages that were small enough and mobile enough to survive.

This single event opened the way for mammals to ascend the food chain hierarchy, and ultimately to a two-legged creature who rules the earth not from sheer brute strength, but through intelligence.

Brusatte takes the perspective of dinosaurs that has been taught to gradeschool kids for a hundred years and upends it like a small slab of fossil laden sedimentary rock.  rise and fall of the dinosaurs review

This book opened my eyes to a stimulating view of these great and terrible beasts that really does sort out the frays at the edge of our understanding.  It excites the imagination in finding out that even the nightmarish Thunder Lizard itself probably hunted in packs and cared for it’s young.

It strengthens the knowledge that we are but a speed bump in the long and populace highway in the evolution of life on our planet.

This book is full of impressive descriptions of each step in time, illustrating what the dinosaurs looked like and who they were competing against for resources.

Those steps in time aren’t days or weeks, they are millions of years per step, as dinosaurs were some of the most successful species on the planet, participating and then dominating the Earth for 200 million years.

Brusatte looks at the information from a larger perspective than anyone previously, and makes incredibly astute theories on how these creatures survived, from a truly unique position.

If you are at all enthralled with the “thunder lizards”, you watched Jurassic Park in awe, dreamed of dinosaurs when you were a young’un, or wondered how such a monstrous creature could inhabit this earth, then this book is a must read for you.

Find out now how these magnificent animals lived and died, click on the book and purchase your copy.   I purchased the hardback copy as I want to read it again and again, so will you!

The Rise And Fall Of The Dinosaurs, By Steve Brusatte

My First Fossil

Many years ago, I was four wheeling in Rifle, Colorado in an old (even then) ’72 Jeep Wagoneer I’d bought from my dad.

My Dear Old Dad, who owned that old Wagoneer before I did!

I happened to be going up a fairly steep incline to the north west of town when I decided I would pull over and check out the shale that was scattered abundantly on the higher side of the road, as the other side was an 80 foot cliff to the next switch back of the road I was on.  One particular piece of rock looked like two layers stuck together with one layer missing a small edge.

That shale before I took a chisel to it.

The other edge had a dark leaf looking area sticking out so I took a  hammer and chisel and attempted to separate the two halves and behold, the split revealed a small leaf, I had found an actual fossil.

I was ecstatic!  I had found evidence of past life, who knew how old the shale was, or what type of leaf I’d found, what mattered was the fact I had all of a sudden entered a hobby that would consume my every spare moment for years to come.

After it was split open.
A closeup of the leaf

Since then I have collected in 38 of the 50 US States, I have found fossils on beaches to mountain tops. I have found 200 million year old crinoids to 450 million year old trilobites. I have found 10 million year old wood. I’ve even found fossils in the pebbles we use in landscaping.