The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World

by Steve Brusatte

Paperback, 2019

Call number

567.9 BRU



William Morrow Paperbacks (2019), Edition: Illustrated, 416 pages


Nature. Science. Nonfiction. HTML: "THE ULTIMATE DINOSAUR BIOGRAPHY," hails Scientific American: A thrilling new history of the age of dinosaurs, from one of our finest young scientists. "A masterpiece of science writing." â??Washington Post A New York Times Bestseller â?˘ Goodreads Choice Awards Winner â?˘ A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Smithsonian, Science Friday, The Times (London), Popular Mechanics, Science News "This is scientific storytelling at its most visceral, striding with the beasts through their Triassic dawn, Jurassic dominance, and abrupt demise in the Cretaceous." â??Nature The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth's most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet's great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before. In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the fieldâ??naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldworkâ??masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages. Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellersâ??themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic periodâ??into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs' peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth's history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a "sixth extinction." Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur researchâ??which he calls "a new golden age of discovery"â??and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China. An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs' epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come. Includes 75 images, world maps of the prehistoric earth, and a dinos… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member billsearth
This was a very good book. Iit provides a perspective of why the dinosaurs ascended and why they did not survive while other creatures did survive. The information is extremely well documented, and is clearly written and often collaborated in the text. Although much documentation is right in the
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text, after the epilog, a section called "notes" has thirty-seven additional pages of reference collaboration, in order of where it goes into the story. Be sure and read the epilog. The way in which the author ties the groups of species to their environment and habitats through time is a very good approach for this message.
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LibraryThing member Tanya-dogearedcopy
NF book written by a working paleontologist, pop science in tone and style but geared toward an adult audience.

The number of advances in the field of paleontology in the past twenty years, i.e., readily accessible & more sophisticated technology, discoveries in China and new
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mathematical/statistical modeling have opened up a lot of “secrets” and corrected a lot of mistakes about the studies into the Mesozoic Era. From the end of the Permian Era (before dinosaurs) to the violent end of the Cretaceous period, the author brings color and life to a time of great geological upheavals and an incredibly diverse set of dinosaurs and their cousins.
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
Excellent history for a general reader by a practicing dinosaur paleontologist. There's a lot of information but presented in a narrative non-fiction technique making it easy to follow, and Brusatte is an entertaining and likeable guide.

From ch.8 about birds, birds are dinosaurs, not an
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evolutionary lineage or dino-light version, actual dinosaurs. Lightweight hollow bones, super-efficient lungs, high intelligence, high metabolism, fast movement - everything we associate with a bird is the same as a dinosaur, because they are dinosaurs. Feathers and wings developed in dinosaurs as with peacocks for display and protection - the smaller animals found they could get lift from early wings in an evolutionary accident - flight was not intentional but when it occurred happen-chance, it quickly took off in many directions.

Dinosaurs lasted nearly 200 million years, a stretch of time so vast as to challenge the imagination. Brusatte does a good job giving the highlights - mass extinctions, evolutionary success stories. The shifting geography of the continents as they drifted apart played into why and how dinosaurs evolved due to climatic changes brought on by long-term volcanic and weather patterns. Time can drive great change. Dinosaurs were not an evolutionary dead-end they are still living. Their demise from the top spot was a random event, but they could return to dominance again should "intelligent" mammals leave the world to the birds.
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LibraryThing member auntmarge64
Clever popular science that manages to convey a huge amount of information about the current state of the science without overwhelming the reader. The author is a young paleontologist and is passionate about his work, his colleagues, and the science they're doing. It's potent, although occasionally
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a bit repetitive with the accolades and over-the-top admiration and nicknames for the great monsters of the dinosaur age. Still, I'm delighted to have read it, and finally I think I'll be able to remember the difference between Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous.

Interspersed with stories of the fossil hunters and scientists who came before him, Brusatte gives a family history of dinosaurs, beginning with smaller ones in the Triassic and proceeding to the gigantic monsters of the late Cretaceous. There are some photos and diagrams, but I often detoured to Wikipedia for pictures. The most interesting information came near the end: how to determine what colors dinosaurs were; the likelihood of them being warm-blooded, or at least not completely cold-blooded; the development of primitive feathers on most dinosaurs species, and the discovery of a complete pygmy dinosaur hierarchy on isolated islands that would eventually form the parts of Europe. But the highlight of the book is the dramatic description of what happened the day the asteroid hit and wiped out most dinosaurs (some bird ancestors made it through, but that was it after a few years) and made space for the mammals that survived to eventually rule the world in the dinosaurs' place.
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LibraryThing member featherbear
Been to the Peabody and its iconic mural in New Haven a couple times, and often pass the triceratops statue on the way to the tax preparer or Yale HR. The Dinosaur Heresies (Robert Bakker) & T-Rex and the Crater of Doom (Walter Alvarez) – the last (& probably only) books read on the topic as an
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adult. Rise is a pop-sci update on discoveries since the 1980s.

Noteworthy as updates:
• Fossil discoveries in Latin America, Africa, China (will India have the next big find? Volcanic activity in China/Mongolia captured a large number of birds and theropods & India had quite a bit of volcanic activity); if you follow this sort of thing there have been a number of such announcements on blogs and websites in the past decade
• Discovery in China of feathered theropods confirming theories of a number of paleontologists in the 80s. Brusatte extends this to arguing that birds are direct descendants of theropods, although it seems there were plenty of birds (not pteradactyls which are not considered dinosaurs) flying around already in the Cretaceous period when considerable theropod evolution was taking place (pteradactyls are not classified as dinosaurs, but the argument is that birds are descendants of the theropods)
• Effect of computer programs on paleontology re dinosaur speciation and evolution – even the color of feathers; many “discoveries” the result of computer study of fossils from old museum collections; digital models to determine appearance and weight from incomplete fossilized skeleton

Not necessarily new, but impressive or interesting to me:
• Extraordinarily vivid depiction of the impact, and the impact on earth’s ecology, of the Chixulub asteroid/comet collision that brought the Cretaceous to a horrible end; plus the relatively “normal” mass extinction that ended the Permian, clearing the table for the dinosaurs
• Continental drift and speciation – island evolutionary speciation extended to the land masses of separating Pangea and supported by the discoveries outside North America
• Breathing systems of the dinosaurs and birds; ability to absorb oxygen while exhaling; distribution of oxygen caches within the body
• Significance of dinosaurs’ hollow bones; beyond an alternative oxygen cache, allows for growth of extremely long neck and tail of sauropods but – doesn’t explain how hollow bones can support weights of 50 tons?

Other thoughts::
• The Gaia thesis is all very well, but mass extinction is a reminder that earth, not just the universe, can be extremely hostile to life; life seems very incidental
• Maybe the impetus to the Creationist viewpoint is a way to avoid dealing with the Creator’s penchant for mass extinctions; one can imagine the ammunition this would give to Voltaire
• This book is popular science not a textbook (check the references for textbooks in the notes); can’t understand some of the Mean Girls sniping in some of the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Got this out of the New Haven Library rather than purchasing due to the negative comments, but the author made a field of study I probably wouldn’t find all that interesting quite absorbing, not unlike a police procedural.
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LibraryThing member 4bonasa
A good history of the dinosaurs. The book does need a few more illustrations, just keep your smart phone handy to search the net.
LibraryThing member Shrike58
As I was reading this book there was a constant consideration in my mind as to how I was going to rate it, mostly in regards to the balance between the gossip (Brusatte loves his gossip) and the science. At a certain level you almost call this a high-level version of participatory journalism, as it
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seems quite clear that if Brusatte hadn't become a working scientist he still would have been a working journalist. Besides providing a tour d'horizon of the dinosaurs Brusatte is also giving you a history of the climate of this planet and how precarious things can be at the wrong moment; in regards to the subject he comes down very much on the side of the argument that views dinosauria as being in at least decent shape before the great meteor strike that ended it all.
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LibraryThing member GeoffHabiger
I love dinosaurs. I got a degree in geology and spent several years attempting to get a masters degree in paleontology. I routinely attend the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and I've written my own coloring/activity book about dinosaurs. So, take it as a verifiable
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dinosaur nerd that you need to read this book. Stephen presents a wonderful narrative and history of the age of dinosaurs, weaving in the latest scientific research with a witty and interesting narrative that encompasses his own love for dinosaurs that started well before his career as a paleontologist took off.

We learn about the end Permian extension that cleared the way for the dinosaur ancestors and eventually the dinosaurs themselves to take the stage in the Triassic. About the diversity and abundance of the dinosaurs during the Jurassic, and the pinnacle of the dinosaur empire during the Cretaceous. Stephen explains in very easy to understand language the latest science that explains how the dinosaurs proliferated to fill practically every niche in the world, how they were still thriving until the very end, and how dinosaurs continue to survive today, their lineage continuing as birds. (FYI - Birds ARE dinosaurs, if you've missed that bit of news.)

I highly recommend The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs to anybody who is not only a dinosaur lover, but who has an interest in the natural world around us and how we continue to explore and learn about our world's amazing history. Stephen Brusatte does a wonderful job of bringing this ancient animals to life, and clearing away a lot of the scientific dogma that has surrounded dinosaur science in the past several decades.

I listened to the audiobook version of the book read by Patrick Lawlor. There were no production problems with the book and Patrick does an excellent job of pronouncing not only the usual plethora of dinosaur names, but also the many out of the way localities around the world that often have names designed to be tongue-twisters.
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LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
In The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World, Steve Brusatte draws upon his extensive paleontological work and his friendships with others in the field to trace the earliest history of dinosaurs after the Permian mass extinction, through the Triassic, Jurassic, and
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Cretaceous periods of dinosaur evolution as well as the evidence for the catastrophic impact that ended the Cretaceous, began the Paleogene, and made it possible for mammals to inherit the Earth. The work alternates between discussions of how dinosaurs, early birds, and other ancient reptiles lived and Brusatte’s own experiences as a paleontologist, which help to explain for the lay-reader just how scientists know what they know in language clear enough for the average person to grasp. His comments about those possessing the melanocortin 1 receptor notwithstanding (pg. 78), the overall effect is a must-read for all who remain fascinated with these massive creatures and their world, so unlike our own.
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LibraryThing member breic
This is fine, but far from the best popular science book I've read recently. When I read a book like this, written by a scientist active in the field, I want to know what the work is like—both the day-to-day chores and the exciting discoveries. Who the people are, and what makes them tick.
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Unfortunately, this book doesn't say that much about how paleontologists work, and in particular there are very few details about the author's own work. Several times we hear about how he filled in a spreadsheet and ran an algorithm on it. Perhaps Brusatte thinks this work is too boring for most people to care? But I want to know the details! To be fair, Brusatte does try to give capsule portraits of quite a number of other paleontologists. The anecdotes are usually too brief and shallow, and can lack a punch line.

The book does do a decent job surveying the history of dinosaurs, explaining a few of our most recent discoveries as well. I think the book did a good job at consolidating information that I'd been vaguely aware of, but only from scattershot sources. But the information density isn't that high, and perhaps could also have been conveyed in a magazine article. Occasionally, Brusatte falls into the trap of listing species names. Taxonomy is dull.

Overall, I liked the book. It is a very quick read. I just wanted more!
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LibraryThing member nmele
Brusatte is an up and coming paleontologist, and also an engaging writer who puts a good story, the rise and fall of dinosaurs, to use explaining what paleontologists do, how they discover such things as the weight and coloration of long extinct animals, and what sorts of people become
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paleontologists and fossil hunters. The best dinosaur book I have read in decades!
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LibraryThing member DanielSTJ
This was a straightforward, rewarding text on the evolution of dinosaurs. It covered a wide range of territory and served, for me, as a primer to the world of dinosaurs in written form- me only having watched documentaries on dinosaurs before and learning about them, very briefly, through
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education. I thought this was a fine book. The writing, at times, even approaches better than just "good," it goes to great in some parts.

Overall, a satisfying read. You go in and get what you're looking for. 3.5 stars!
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LibraryThing member annbury
Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist who is clearly obsessed with dinosaurs, has produced a wonderful book about the dinosaurs themselves and about the science that has vastly increased our knowledge of them in recent years. He is immensely knowledgeable, not surprisingly since he is one of the world's
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leading experts in this field. He is also a terrific writer, using vivid every-day language to bring an ancient world to life. He also sounds like a great guy, and is amusing and inspiring in describing his fellow dinosaur scientists. This is a terrific read.
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LibraryThing member drmaf
A comparative rarity - a book about dinosaurs written for the adult non-scientist. There are any number of books about dinosaurs for children and plenty of academic texts, but popular science for adult laypeople is hard to come by. So this book is a rare gem, and the fact that it is exceptionally
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well-written and absolutely enthralling is a bonus. Bussatte intertwines his own career as a young palaeontologist and the fascinating characters he meets tripping the world looking for dinosaurs with a go to woe history of the dino's 150 million year reign. Along the way he reveals the new science that is changing the way we view dinosaurs and how they evolved. The old view of dinosaurs as slow-witted, slow-moving, anachronisms who were just waiting for nature to come along and replace them with better models is thoroughly discredited. Dinosaurs were actually fast, smart, and efficient - and most of them including T-rex, had feathers! And he emphasizes that in fact they never died out at all - they are flying, hopping, tweeting all round us today. Birds did not evolve from dinosaurs, they ARE dinosaurs! In fact, if feathered dinosaurs had survived today, we would simply regard them as another type of bird. This certainly made me look at the birds around me in a completely new light. One small disappointment, the book is heavily biased towards the dinos of North America, with some token appearances by Asian, South American European dinos, while the fascinating and very different dinos of Africa, Australia and Antarctica are completely ignored. There is a whole chapter on T-rex, which although fascinating, is really covering very well-worn ground, I would have leaved to have learned more about the newly discovered dinosaurs. But that is a small flaw in a exceptionally enthralling book, I loved it, and I sincerely hope the author keeps producing more like it. Wonderful stuff.
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LibraryThing member widdersyns
This book was extremely readable and I enjoyed it. I think I expected it to go a little more in-depth with the science, which it did not.
LibraryThing member reader1009
seemed fine--hard for me to focus, plus there's a bunch of people waiting to read this after me at the library, so I stopped after 1-1/2 chapters. I think I'd do better with a PBS special, but lots of folks seemed to love the dinosaur bits in other reviews.
LibraryThing member DramMan
Easy reading account of the Dinosaur age, the theories and latest findings. The author has travelled widely and draws upon a wide network of fellow paleontologists in giving examples to explain what went on.
LibraryThing member TobinElliott
A fun book that provides the reader with not only a history of the dinosaurs (the titular rise and fall), but also about the men and women that hunt their remains to understand them better.

Yes, you're going to get a shit ton of dinosaur names tossed at you, but the author also makes the history fun
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and real.

If you have an interest in dinosaurs, or would like a little more info on how accurate Jurassic Park was, this is a great place to start.
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LibraryThing member PhilSyphe
This is a fascinating account of the dinosaurs. The author knows his stuff and succeeds in painting a vivid picture of how these prehistoric creatures lived.

Steve Brusatte could probably write an excellent novel with dinosaurs as characters. He creates the occasional short fiction interlude to
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better show how certain animals lived.

What I didn't like was the excess details on his personal life and even more so on the people he's worked with. This kind of thing is off-topic. A name-check is all that's needed.

Any reader approaching this book wants to learn about dinosaurs only, and not to read about the background of various scientists' lives, and certainly not read detailed descriptions of their physical appearance. We get way too much info on things like dining and dancing, which have no place in a book on dinosaurs.

Despite the irritation of the off-topic moments, I was so engrossed with the on-topic passages that I had to rate this five stars. So, niggles aside, I consider this a great read.
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LibraryThing member Anniik
This was a very interesting history of the dinosaurs. I am not a scientist but I found it engaging and easy to follow. I really enjoyed it!
LibraryThing member fionaanne
A fascinating read and superbly done.
LibraryThing member tuusannuuska
4,4 stars

I enjoyed the subject matter and the author's enthusiasm. Not the biggest fan of the incessant need to drop the personal anecdotes about the different specialists. The attempt to paint the paleontologists as rock stars is adorable.
LibraryThing member Ghost_Boy
Reading the reviews for this book I felt like I was going to be reading a book not about dinosaurs. Hate saying this, but some of the negative reviews on here seem misleading and focusing too much on the parts that don't really matter.

The book is about what the title delivers. Some of this
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information isn't new to me, but I still learned a lot. Brusatte isn't writing for the science intellectuals. He's writing for the everyday person still interested in dinosaurs for whatever reason that may be.

He talks about Jurassic Park a bit in this book. It makes sense since he's only in his 30s and that's how most kids my age go into dinosaurs. However, that wasn't me. I didn't see the movie until recently, but loved learning about dinosaurs and still do because of books.

I loved the part of him talking about going to the Peabody Museum as a kid at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut. Have a special memory of that place with my grandfather and brother. We saw the bones and a stuffed dodo. My grandpa liked that we were all excited seeing this stuff. I think that's one reason I'm still interested in this stuff.

I think this is a book worth reading if you are still into dinosaurs. It's quick, easy, and a fun read with enough photos and cited sources.
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LibraryThing member nmele
A while ago, I found a book my parents bought for me when I was five or six years old (mid-1950s) during a visit to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It was a child's introduction to the evolution of animals and it focussed on dinosaurs. Much of that book is badly outdated, from
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the depictions of unfeathered dinosaurs to the then mystery of the dinosaurs disappearance. Brusatte covers all that has been learned since the 1950s, and puts what we knew then and now in the context of the geology, geography, climate and animal populations of each period. Sure, he highlights Tyrannosaurus rex and some other star animals, but he carefully traces what we know about their evolution and their habits. He also points out that dinosaurs were never the only creatures in their various environments and that a good bit of what we consider the age of dinosaurs was actually dominated by other reptiles. I kept turning the pages to see what else I didn't know!
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LibraryThing member untitled841
An easily accessible non-fiction book about dinosaurs and the history of archeology.


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