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Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils Hardcover – 7 Mar 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (7 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160598499X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605984995
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,350,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The pedagogy is excellent, and the explanations of technical material are accessible. --Raymond Freeman-Lynde, University of Georgia

Packed with information. Martin's style makes the reading fun and easy. An excellent resource that provides a wealth of information and links for further exploration. --Gus Winterfeld, Idaho State University

Full of valuable and useful information.

Past praise for Anthony J. Martin:

Martin shows how ancient trace fossils directly relate to modern traces and trace makers, among them, insects, crabs, shorebirds, alligators, and sea turtles. The result is an aesthetically appealing and scientifically accurate book.

Anthony Martin's thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking book explains the critical importance of non-skeletal fossils, which are often-underrated, yet provide key insights on almost every aspect of dinosaur lives. The clear and lively text skillfully integrates information and is brightened by Martin's fascinating stories of research and his wonderfully quirky sense of humor. --Karen Chin, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder"

Even in the most active poses, skeletons can seem inert more like frozen sculptures than the moving parts of animals that were once alive. Fortunately for us, dinosaurs left us far more than just their bones. Anthony Martin draws on a wealth of fossil clues, from footprints to feces, to explore Mesozoic lives and the field of ichnology, the study of trace fossils. Records of prehistoric behavior and biology, such fossils are often the closest we'll ever come to seeing long-extinct dinosaurs in the flesh. Readers will learn as much about how to calculate the speed of a dinosaur from the size and spacing of its tracks as about the rush of enthusiasm and curiosity Mr. Martin feels upon seeing prehistoric traces. Mr. Martin is an enthusiastic and affable guide. Whispers in stone, trace fossils are moments of ancient life. "

An evangelistic tour de force articulating the importance of trace fossils for understanding how dinosaurs truly lived and behaved. The author writes in lively prose and aims the work at general readers. This is easily the best book on dinosaur trace fossils on the market.

An enjoyable and stimulating read for both the dinosaur fan and expert alike that highlights the extensive and largely unrecognized role ichnology has played in revealing dinosaur behavior and ecology, and the impact dinosaurs may have had on past and modern ecosystems. Anthony Martin uses his extensive experience to provide an amusing, thorough, and provocative review of dinosaur trace fossils, from tacks and burrows all the wya through regurgitates and coprolites.--David Varricchio, Associate Professor of Paleontology, Montana State University"

Martin s popular, non-academic debut bubbles over with the joy of scientific discovery as he shares his natural enthusiasm for the blend of sleuthing and imagination

People are amazed what paleontology can deduce from bones Anthony shows what can be learned with a simple trace in the sand. No other book in recent years expresses the joy of employing the scientific method to reveal the ancient world.--James Kirkland, Utah State Paleontologist"

About the Author

Anthony J. Martin is a Professor at Emory University, a paleontologist, geologist, and one of the world's most accomplished ichnologists. He is the co-discoverer of the first known burrowing dinosaur, found the oldest dinosaur burrows in the geologic record, and documented the best assemblage of polar-dinosaur tracks in the Southern Hemisphere. He is the author of two textbooks on dinosaurs and lives in Atlanta, GA.

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Format: Hardcover
It’s sometimes difficult to tell whether Dinosaurs Without Bones is about dinosaurs or about paleontologists. Both turn out to be fascinating, and one of them can still be seen in the field today (Jurassic Park notwithstanding). The stated theme of the book is dinosaurs beyond mere bones. That is, every shred of evidence, from footprints to bathtub-like constructs that indicate where a dinosaur “took a leak” all add to our collective knowledge of how flesh and blood dinosaurs lived.

But from that (scant) knowledge, flights of fantasy emerge. Paleontologists aren’t mere scientists; they are fantasists, dreaming up scenarios if not whole novels about what their stony discoveries mean. To be sure, they have their lists of reality checks, if only to weather potential criticisms better, but their imaginations are where they really show off. And Dinosaurs Without Bones flies freely, leveraging every bodily function that fossil traces afford us. Every bodily function.

Paleontologists need to be expert in an incredible range of fields. They need to understand everything from digestion to physics. They need to know that a T-rex could not possibly run around at 45 mph as in the movies, because if it ever slipped or tripped, its massive weight and height would most surely have killed it in its fall, which is not a very effective evolutionary trait or strategy. The book is filled with such observations. It makes for a potentially realistic vision of what actually took place on planet earth 200 mya (million years ago, a lovely abbreviation used throughout).

There is a great deal of data on birds - modern birds – which for Martin represent the living embodiment of dinosaurs. His appreciation of them dominates the last quarter of the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fancy Footwork and Unlimited Fantasy 25 Feb. 2014
By David Wineberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It’s sometimes difficult to tell whether Dinosaurs Without Bones is about dinosaurs or about paleontologists. Both turn out to be fascinating, and one of them can still be seen in the field today (Jurassic Park notwithstanding). The stated theme of the book is dinosaurs beyond mere bones. That is, every shred of evidence, from footprints to bathtub-like constructs that indicate where a dinosaur “took a leak” all add to our collective knowledge of how flesh and blood dinosaurs lived.

But from that (scant) knowledge, flights of fantasy emerge. Paleontologists aren’t mere scientists; they are fantasists, dreaming up scenarios if not whole novels about what their stony discoveries mean. To be sure, they have their lists of reality checks, if only to weather potential criticisms better, but their imaginations are where they really show off. And Dinosaurs Without Bones flies freely, leveraging every bodily function that fossil traces afford us. Every bodily function.

Paleontologists need to be expert in an incredible range of fields. They need to understand everything from digestion to physics. They need to know that a T-rex could not possibly run around at 45 mph as in the movies, because if it ever slipped or tripped, its massive weight and height would most surely have killed it in its fall, which is not a very effective evolutionary trait or strategy. The book is filled with such observations. It makes for a potentially realistic vision of what actually took place on planet earth 200 mya (million years ago, a lovely abbreviation used throughout).

There is a great deal of data on birds - modern birds – which for Martin represent the living embodiment of dinosaurs. His appreciation of them dominates the last quarter of the book. And he makes excellent arguments for his positions.

The one batch of theories I wanted but did not see was numbers. How many dinosaurs were there? Billions? Did they overpopulate the planet, or were they scattered? How dominant were they in the landscape? How much territory did a T-rex need, and how much for a brontosaurus? It matters in topics like how dinosaurs might have affected the environment, promoting flowers over dense foliage for example, or filling the air with exhaust gases and therefore warming it. I was left with absolutely no feel for how prevalent dinosaurs were.

Martin peppers the setting with humor: self-effacing, punning, and cultural (eg. hoping for an appearance on Comedy Central, the highest form of acknowledgement for scientists in the USA). It makes the book all the more readable, and, well, human. Basically, Martin is an incurable romantic, but an exhaustively fair and thorough one.

David Wineberg
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A liberal interpretation of "trace fossil." 20 Sept. 2014
By eagseags - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ichnology is the study of trace fossils (footprints, tooth marks, burrows, etc.) The most interesting thing about trace fossils is that they record the behavior of a living anima, as opposed to body fossils which tell you everything about anatomy, but are effectively mute about behavior. Also, trace fossils can be very abundant; an animal only has so many bones, but can leave thousands of tracks in a lifetime. As you probably know, there are a number of frustrations connected with linking the two types of fossil: The formations that preserved footprints, for instance, are seldom the same formations that preserve bones. Also, although one can with some confidence assign which broad type of animal made which trace fossil, narrowing it down to a specific genus is sometimes impossible. Therefore one needs to have a separate system of nomenclature, with "ichnospecies" (types of traces) and "real" species, with no absolute way of linking the two.

As with any field in paleontology, popular books on ichnology concentrate on dinosaurs. In the 1990's most books about dinosaur trace fossils were by Martin Lockley: "Tracking Dinosaurs" (1991), "Dinosaur Tracks and Traces" (1991), "The Eternal Trail" (1999), etc. After a two decade gap in popular books on ichnology, I was pleased to see a new book "Dinosaurs Without Bones" by Anthony J. Martin. Martin is a paleontologist at Emory University who specializes in trace fossils, with emphasis on the Southern Hemisphere.

The chapter headings are:
1. Sleuthing Dinosaurs
2. These Feet Were Made for Walking, Running, Sitting, Swimming, Herding, and Hunting
3.The Mystery of Lark Quarry
4. Dinosaur Nests and Bringing Up Babies
5. Dinosaurs Down Underground
6. Broken Bones, Toothmarks, and Marks on Teeth
7.Why Would a Dinosaur Eat a Rock?
8.The Remains of the Day: Dinosaur Vomit, Stomach Contents, Feces, and Other Gut Feelings
9.The Great Cretaceous Walk
10.Tracking theDinosaurs Among Us
11.Dinosaurian Landscapes and Evolutionary Traces

Two things you can immediately tell from the headers:
This books expands the notion of trace fossils beyond the usual footprints, toothmarks, and burrows, and includes anything that records some kind of behavior. The book is written in a very humorous style, with a lot of word-play.
I will dip into some of these topics to give you a flavor. Obviously, there is a lot of interesting material.

From Chapter 3: Paleontologists tend to be story tellers (in my mind a little too much, speculating far beyond the facts in some cases), and ichnologists are even more extreme in this trait because their objects of study preserve behavior. Lark Quarry (in Australia) preserves ~3300 dinosaur footprints and seems to tell a compelling story. There are a few medium size three-toed footprints, presumed from some ornithopod, many three-toed footprints of some small theropods all moving in the same direction and running at high speed (because the tracks are widely spaced in the direction of travel). Some of the small tracks overstep the medium-sized prints. There are also a line of very large three-toed prints, presumably of a large theropod). The story is "dinosaur stampede", where the large theropod panics a herd of smaller theropods who want to avoid being eaten. Presumably this inspired the Tyrannosaurs chasing a herd of Gallimimus in "Jurassic Park." Unfortunately further work puts this exciting story into doubt. It is not necessarily straightforward to tell the three-toed tracks from ornithopods (like hadrosaurs) from the tree-toed tracks of theropods. The proportions of the very large tracks are more like that of an ornithopod, than a theropod. In fact there are no known very large theropods from Australia 95 Myr., but there is a very large ornithopod Muttaburrasaurus. So whatever the small dinosaurs were running from, it probably was not from being eaten.

From Chapter 5: Martin is famous for studying the only known case of a burrowing dinosaur. A spiral burrow (6ft long and 1 ft in diameter) was excavated from Montana in 2005. It contained three disarticulated skeletons of Oryctodromeus, a small herbivore, one adult and two juveniles. This would be a very tight fit, but not unusual for a burrowing animal. The completeness of the skeletons makes a pretty good case that the animals died in the burrow and were not washed in later.

From Chapter 7: The classic explanation of the rounded pebbles found associated with the abdomen of dinosaurs (gastroliths) is that they were deliberately swallowed and acted as substitute teeth for grinding plant matter. This is often applied specifically for sauropods. The real situation is more complicated. Many herbivorous dinosaurs with no grinding teeth have never shown any gastroliths, and surprisingly many meat-eating dinosaurs have gastroliths. One can never be certain that the gastroliths were deliberately or accidentally swallowed, nor can one always eliminate the possibility that stones were washed into the burst abdominal cavity of a dinosaur long after death.

From Chapter 10: Birds are living dinosaurs, and much of their behavior leaves traces: beak marks, nests, bowers, etc. It is speculative, but once we know what bird-caused traces look like, we can look for the same features in Mesozoic sediments.

From Chapter 11: Many individual animals working together leave traces on their environment. For instance, overgrazing of vegetation allows for faster erosion, which can change the course of rivers. Dinosaur flatulence could cause global warming. Mobile dinosaurs could distribute seeds and parasites across continents. I found this a very eye-opening discussion. Unfortunately, while one can detect things like erosion and global warming in the fossil record, it is very hard to assign the behavior of specific animals as a cause.

I enjoyed "Dinosaurs Without Bones" overall. It contained much information of which I was not previously aware, and it was an easy read. On the other hand, if you are looking for more technical information on dinosaur traces, you will have to look elsewhere. One thing I did miss is helpful diagrams embedded with the text to illustrate certain points. All photographs of trace fossils, and a few diagrams (the most amusing of which is "Brachiosaurus projectile vomiting"), are together in the center of the book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dinosaurs without boring bits..... 29 July 2014
By Louette - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Martin is definitely a palaeontologist and ichnologist with a great sense of humour. I had to keep reading bits to my husband when I'd come across some particularly funny piece. Sometimes it was a pun, sometimes a weird description. Not too many English teachers I know could deal with the science he describes, but he has a definite turn of phrase with English - "These nests and their egg clutches inspire yet another question, which is how sauropod mothers laid their eggs without occasioning onomatopoeia such as 'crunch' and 'splat'." This ability to raise interesting questions, make you think about them, and give great explanations and descriptions that tie back to experiences the non-scientist would identify with is something I try to do in my own science teaching, but probably nowhere near as well as Dr. Martin manages to do.

Aside from the sheer pleasure of reading such an enjoyable book, the information contained is up to date, barring the latest PLOS ONE article just published on "A Terror of Tyrannosaurs". However, having read that just published article as I was starting the book, the book certainly was invaluable in helping understand how the authors of the article made their measurements and came to their conclusions, and made me think of what questions I might want answered about the tracks. The book also had quite a few sites I hadn't known about, and excellent explanations of what could be deduced from the types of trace fossils. Best yet, it gave a real feel for the excitement, and the actual reasoning and questioning that go with good science, the problems of publishing, and the antagonisms that sometimes go with differing theories, such as the 'T rex as scavenger vs T rex as active hunter' camps.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - Interesting and well written! 3 April 2014
By Christine G. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
We bought this book after hearing Dr. Martin speak at our local science museum. The book is easy to read, informative and fun! It's a great way to learn about fossil traces and history. I highly recommend it for all ages!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read 16 July 2014
By Gene J - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the few books on the subject where I actually learned things I didn't already know or suspect. Easy to read, easy to follow and very enjoyable.

There were a lot of jokes and funny comments. Are they appropriate? Well this isn't a text book and they were funny. So we will give him a pass on that.

It was well done and gives many suggestions for future research. You will not be disappointed.
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