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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dinosaurs , but not as we know them, 28 April 2005
This review is from: The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World (Paperback)
As a child over thirty years ago, there was nothing more that interested me than dinosaurs. Today, with scientists recently debating the realistic oportunities of studying dinosaur DNA (something laughed at when the film "Jurassic Park" came out ten years ago !!), Deborah Cadbury's excellent book takes me back to the days of my tea card books where the prehistoric animal series featured accounts of Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen - the two protagonists in the early days of dinosaur research. Looking back to these books, our image of the fantastic creatures has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and Cadbury's account captures the wonderment of the scientists of the first half of the 19th Century as they tried to make sense of the finds for the very first time. Their reconstructions were often hopelessly wrong and the numerous illustrations in this book are fascinating in their Victorian perception of the prehistoric world. This was a time when Noah's flood was still taken seriously.
As if the account of the early days of palaeontology is not interesting enough, this book is livened up by the story of Mantell's and Owen's rivalry and how the latter managed to suppress the former's theories and eventually discredit him. However, the author keeps us guessing as to whether Mantell would eventually come to be vindicated keeping the reader guessing until the end. Will the villainous Owen eventually get his just deserts ? You will have to read the book to find out !!
With our benefit of 170 years of scientific research, the valiant attempts of the great scientific minds of the age to solve the mystery of the dinosaurs now seem quaint and I kept on thinking just how suprised these people would be if we could tell them what we well know now. All in all, this is the kind of book that you will find impossible to put down.
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