Friday, October 8, 2021

Non-fiction: Review of Dinosaurs Rediscovered by Michael Benton

Dinosaurs are one of the most fascinating aspects of life on Earth. Massive animals that dominated our planet for millions upon millions of years, humanity is but a drop in the bucket, comparatively. It’s thus inevitable that lessons learned from their existence might help humanity understand our own. But the related science seems to be constantly in flux. Looking at portrayals of dinosaurs forty years ago compared to today is different in significant points. Satisfying the inner child while bringing together the largest pieces of confirmed/discovered science as of 2019 is Dinosaurs Rediscovered: How a Scientific Revolution is Rewriting History.

Science being one of the most ubiquitous aspects of life in the 21st century, there are likely others, like me, who cannot keep up with all these latest findings and speculations on interesting subjects, like dinosaurs. Where research is ongoing and new things are being regularly confirmed or learned, Dinosaurs Rediscovered summarizes what is known to date, in turn creating the latest knowledge as to what, why, where, and how dinosaurs lived. It’s amazing the knowledge modern technology can unlock from old bones and rocks.

Feathers, gait, food web, growth patterns, mass, extinction, genealogical trees, these and many others aspects have changed in how we view dinosaurs in the past forty years of scientific investigation. Paleontology, archeology, genealogy, geology and several other sciences have tested hypotheses and practically confirmed many aspects of dinosaur life that school children half a century ago were unware of.

Thus, if you are a person who enjoys the science—forensics really, of back tracing little bits of evidence today to recreate the reality of yesterday, Dinosaurs Rediscovered is chock full of this type of material. Melanin cells revealing dinosaurs’ colors. Rock strata dating timelines, evolutionary trends, and catastrophes. Bits of bone marrow determining body characteristics. Tracks helping calculate style and speed of movement. On and on goes the tantalizing ways in which science and research today is discovering a lot from a little.

In the end, Dinosaurs Rediscovered is a fascinating piece of popular science. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? The text is a bit heavy for a child, but the average, educated adult will have zero problems digging into and engaging with Benton’s text. Context, explanations, and examples are all presented with a mind to practicality. The reader walks away with a broad to view to the current state of research into the “giant lizards”, and with plenty of additional avenues to continue reading should one of the individual areas be of interest.

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