A Fascinating Tale of Scientific Discoveries,
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This review is from: African Dinosaurs Unearthed: The Tendaguru Expeditions (Life of the Past) (Hardcover)
Sub-Saharan Africa is currently one of the richest fields of paleontological research, with an abundance of sites covering many geological periods. Tanzania in particular is justly famous for the key discoveries about hominid ancestors but equally for the spectacular dinosaur discoveries at Tendaguru.
The book follows, in minute detail, the whole series of expeditions, findings, triumphs, disasters, human and national destinies, hopes and sorrows, concerning the bringing into light of a world lost in the mists of time. A world dominated by huge sauropods, ferocious theropods and a host of other animals and plants, flourishing from the Middle Jurassic up to the Lower Cretaceous.
The tale is told in strict chronological order, from the first glimpses of bones, in the colony of German East Africa in 1907, to the last studies from multinational and multidisciplinary teams at the beginnings of the 21st Century. The expeditions covered various sites but, of course, Tendaguru shines as the most visited, explored and productive. Furthermore, we get an extensive account of all studies, discoveries, controversies and frustrations, following the examination of these rich findings. Germany and the United Kingdom made the most crucial contributions, but other nations and their scientific communities followed, through the tumultuous history of the 20th Century (two World Wars, Cold War, Decolonization, economic and social upheavals etc.).
The only drawback is that,sometimes, so much detail drowns the tale. Too many technicalities, quite interesting to experts, make some sections difficult for laymen, particularly those covering geological / stratigraphic issues. To be fair, the author tried to gather most of the hard science details in the epilogue, but enough escaped to the main text, to make some parts of the book less appealing.
Nevertheless for passionate dinosaur fans, this is a very good opportunity to follow real life Indiana Joneses in one of the greatest adventures in the history of Paleontology.