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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Subjects, sometimes difficult for non-scientists, 14 Sept. 2009
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This review is from: Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Future of Our Planet (Hardcover)
First of all the title is a bit misleading. It refers to the first of the book's ten essays on various subjects in paleontology and most of them have to do with issues pertaining to prehistoric mammals - the author's specialty - and not the "catchy" dinosaurs.
But that's not a problem. Mr. Prothero's prose is as clear as ever and the way he approaches his subjects show the proper mix of boyish enthusiasm and scientific caution, since in many occasions data in support in one thesis or another are scanty or altogether missing. And the conscientious way he points at his (and our) gaps of knowledge, only serves to strengthen those of his conclusions which are based on very concrete scientific evidence and rigorous research.
There are problems though. All subjects are quite interesting in themselves but there is no overall unifying concept connecting them, no big idea or clear message to the reader. Sure, climate change and its dire consequences pop up here and there but it is only one of many broached ideas, not the main or even the strongest one. Also, in quite a few places, the text gets too technical and downright difficult for non-specialists. Finally excavation procedures and problems descriptions, along with the occasional funny incident, are of some value to the reader but not so the author's analytical description of his education and eulogy to his teachers, almost always described as "brilliant" or "outstanding". Of course good teachers are a blessing but not a very interesting subject for popular science reading.
The overall impression is that this is interesting stuff, sometimes great stuff, but addressed more to prospective paleontologists than the general public.
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