Searching for dinosaur online will bring you a bundle of results. I have been trying to find good books on Carboniferous fossil creatures. There is a lot to discover in research papers, but books are a bit harder to come by. Also, there are more papers and books on marine remains than fossil plants. So vertebrate fossils get a larger share of the spotlight.
Unfortunately for me, finding a vertebrate fossil here is tough. The only true vertebrate fossils I have found to date are a pair of Petalodus Teeth. Even then, there isn’t much known about how they look like the soft portions, and their apparent cartilage skeletons don’t preserve well.
Books I’ve finished.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte
This book was a pleasure to read. It is not technical and focuses on the advances in dinosaur finds over the past 25 years. Steve is a paleontologist who comes from the Jurassic Park age, where young people growing up in the ’90s made a career out of finding dinosaur remains.
It tells the story of dinosaur evolution and changes from the first official dinosaurs in the Triassic age until the grand finale end of the dinosaurs. It focuses on finds all over the world. North America, South America, Asia, and Europe are well represented. From raptors who evolved extra claws found in Transylvanian fossil beds to some of the more giant sauropods from South America, there are many things to learn.
There is also much focus on the newer theory that most dinosaurs likely had feathers. For example, nearly any visualization of Tyrannosaur Rex has shown scaly leathery lizard skin. Now these huge creatures seem to have been covered with tiny feathers.
Books I Own
This is the ultimate guide to known Dinosaur bone configurations and positions based on historical finds. Very interesting.
End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals by Ross D E MacPheee, Illustrated by Peter Schouten
A good read but is heavily technical. The author references several research papers and makes, in my opinion, an assumption that you know what they talked about. Nevertheless, diving into what happened to the Megafauna and the possible causes of their extinction is exciting. The art throughout is a good distraction from the rich text.
A great interview with Mr. Hone on the Dinosaur George Podcast brought his book to my attention. Part 1 – Episode #136 and Part 2 – Episode #137 of the Podcast. I started to read the book but have not had time to get past the first chapter. David Hones Blog.
The Great Extinctions: What Causes Them and How They Shape Life by Norman MacLeod
Having started this recently, I know this is a good balance between technical and non-technical books. In addition, the book contains many full-color illustrations and charts, which help drive the point.
Stratigraphic Paleobiology: Understanding the Distribution of Fossil Taxa in Time and Space by Mark E. Patzkowsky and Steven M. Holland
It’s not enough to say a creature went extinct at the very last time in which you find the previous example of that creature. There is a whole world of considerations to pay attention to. These include the site’s geography, weather, and environmental factors. The authors are an authority in their field, and this heavily technical text drives a point more than tells a story.
An early key takeaway is that marine specimens found right next to each other in a fossil bed are typically tens if not hundreds of thousands of years apart. This is based on the fact that modern marine beds show the same age range. An exception to this rule is beds of leaves, where specimens are typically within a year or two of each other as leaves break down too rapidly to fossilize directly adjacent to one another at different times.
The Dinosauria, Second Edition by David B. Weishampel, Peter Dodson, Halszka Osmólska
An authority book on Dinosaurs, anything and everything that was said, except maybe the past five years, seems to be within this book. It reads like a textbook; however, this book has more than a year’s worth of course material. It can be heavily technical, describing the comparative anatomy of fossilized remains like you were in a room full of doctors. There are several black-and-white illustrations throughout. A section is dedicated to where each species has been found, showing it on various maps. It’s an 861-page book, but 185 pages are devoted to the reference section.
Books I did not enjoy
Dinosaurs: A Journey to the Lost Kingdom by Christine Argot, Luc Vives, and Eric Sander
A history lesson I did not need. The text is laid out in almost a too-stylized way, leaving me not wanting to read it. The format is a bit small, and honestly, I’m not sure if it was the printing or something else, there was a bad smell. And this book came sealed in plastic and had its own heavy-duty card stock sleeve.