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Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life Paperback – 8 Jul 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (8 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520269896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520269897
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.9 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,108,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A wonderful book, crammed with information that will surprise you."--"Truthdig"

"This thought-provoking book is a must read not only for dinosaur enthusiasts and science educators but anyone interested in the larger context of life."--"Magill's Literary Annual / Salem Press"

"Sampson is right on target. . . . There is no better overview available than 'Dinosaur Odyssey.'"--"Earth Magazine"

"A great in-depth read for those seriously interested in the history of dinosaurs."--"Dig"

From the Inside Flap

"The best general-audience dinosaur book since the Dinosaur Renaissance began in the 1970s."Philip J. Currie, coeditor of Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, from the foreword
Dinosaur Odyssey is not only a personable and highly accessible tour of the up-to-date discoveries about the gigantic and famous. It also builds on dinosaur paleontology to far-ranging topics like extinction, climate change, and the possibility of life on Mars. The gift to the reader is both fascination and enlightenment. Michael Novacek, author of Terra and Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs
"An odyssey indeed! One of the world's leading dinosaur paleontologists, Sampson draws on a wide variety of sciences, from astronomy and cosmology to microbiology and ecology, in order to portray dinosaurs as living animals. The reader is in for a treat and will emerge with fresh and valuable insights."Peter Dodson, author of The Horned Dinosaurs "

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is an oddity of sorts: it is aimed at adults with an interest in dinosaurs but no significant background knowledge on the subject. This can be both an asset and a fault as we will see.

The author avoids the usual structuring of books dealing with the whole of the dinosaurs' story, namely the strict chronological periods / species within each period one. Instead he opts for a more generalist view in the "background building" section of the book, addressing topics such as solar system creation, tectonic plates movements, the ecology-evolution continuum within the story of Earth and all life on it, energy transfer in food webs, past and present and so on.

The point of providing all this data is to better set the stage for the dinosaur family and their astonishing 160 million years dominance of land life on the planet. Besides a brief, but fairly complete, exposition of the comings and goings of various dinosaur groups through space and time, the tale is told from an ecological standpoint, with separate chapters for herbivores, carnivores, decomposers etc. A host of thorny paleontology issues are meticulously presented, with painstaking effort to objectively put forward all the conflicting viewpoints, no easy task when dealing with deep time. The discussion on alternate solutions for dinosaur physiology and thermodynamics was particularly interesting. Armed with all this, the reader then follows three prehistoric ecosystems "case studies", one for each period of the Mesozoic, coming to the inevitable extinction event and the scientific battles raging around the "why" and "how" of the dinosaurs' demise.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay folks, let's get away from the computer generated fantasy 'Jurassic Park', galloping, tiger stripe dinosaur imagery and get back to basics. Let's talk Mesozoic ecosytems, vertebrate physiology, food chains, etc. That's right, how dinosaurs actually lived as animals, suffering disease, predation, participating in sexual display, suffering environmental stress, acting as primary consumers (herbivores) and secondary consumers (predators) alongside a myriad of various other life forms in the mesozoic, from the billions of bacteria in every gram of soil to the dung beetles which fed on dinosaur dung.

I enjoyed this book, it moves away from 'let's dumb dinosaurs down' approach to put a more realisitic face to these fascinating archosaurs, resulting in an absolutely fascinating read. The border line is drawn, let's make hypotheses and support them with hard science, rather than just suggesting and wishing.

As they say, 'it's amazing how little we know, but how much we DO know' - such is the knowledge we have of dinosaurs which is clearly explained in this great book. Can't recommend it enough to anyone who has an interest in dinosaurs. Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
i just didnt think this book was THAT good.
I found the writing style somewhat patronising but then it was probably written for a teenage audience.
The book seems to conclude that dinosaurs are just a great way to teach kids about ecology and evolution.
Robert Bakker's 'Dinosaur Heresies' wipes the floor with it. Bakker has such a mastery of his subject that old misconceived ideas fall by the wayside as he tramples across the orthodox view of dinosaurs as lumbering, cold blooded dim-witted plodders. This book aims to correct some of Bakkers supposed excess. For example the idea of dinosaurian gizzards is tempered; as is the notion of warm blooded dinosaurs. Much of the content is recycled. If the info is new to you then you'll be thrilled, but if not then...well....just don't expect fireworks.
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