Review: My Beloved Brontosaurus

My Beloved Brontosaurus: on the road with old bones, new science, and our favorite dinosaurs by Brian Switek
Acquired how: bought paperback

I picked up this one in a sale because it promised to investigate how scientific discovery, arguments and reporting over time had changed our views of the dinosaurs, which seemed interesting. The clue is right there in the title with the Brontosaurus – a prehistoric dinosaur that may or may not be a real separate species, or may just a sub-type of Apatosaurus. (Hilariously, my browser spelling dictionary wants me to change Apatosaurus to Brontosaurus.) This book was published in 2013 and word as of 2015 is that there is some evidence Brontosaurus may really have existed as a separate species – but debate rages on.

I haven’t really looked into dinosaurs much since 1993, so there was a lot that was new to me in this volume, in terms of theories of what they looked like and how they lived. What was most interesting to me was the way that Switek follows the history of discoveries in palaeontology and the changing beliefs and arguments in the scientific community about what dinosaurs were like, how we delineate one species from the next, how they lived and what killed them. I could stand to read more about that. This book is a relatively basic pop science book and not a deep look into the subject, but as this is not my area of knowledge, I got what I wanted from it.

In terms of the design of the physical book: what a gorgeous, charming illustrated cover, and I’m strangely charmed by the simple interior typesetting and the illo of a fossil reconstruction that stretches across the double page spread of the second title page.

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