Dinosaur Mountain: Digging into the Jurassic Age

Overview

Earl Douglass was a teenager when he first heard about the Bone Wars?the frenzied race between paleontologists to unearth and classify dinosaur fossils?and he remained fascinated with these prehistoric giants for the rest of his life. As a geologist and botanist working at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Douglass had a hunch that the vast untouched rock strata in northeastern Utah just may have been a haven for Jurassic fossil beds. In 1908, he set out by mule team to the Uinta Basin to dig and ...

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Overview

Earl Douglass was a teenager when he first heard about the Bone Wars—the frenzied race between paleontologists to unearth and classify dinosaur fossils—and he remained fascinated with these prehistoric giants for the rest of his life. As a geologist and botanist working at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Douglass had a hunch that the vast untouched rock strata in northeastern Utah just may have been a haven for Jurassic fossil beds. In 1908, he set out by mule team to the Uinta Basin to dig and discover. Find me “something big,” Andrew Carnegie instructed.

Little did Carnegie know exactly how well Douglass would heed those words. Sixteen years and 350 tons of fossils later, Earl Douglass emerged as one of the most prolific and successful dinosaur hunters of his time.

Using entries directly from Douglass’s diary along with her own evocative storytelling and artwork, acclaimed author and illustrator Deborah Kogan Ray paints the life of this adventurous bone hunter in memorable detail.

Dinosaur Mountain is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year and a 2011 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This dynamic book brings readers into the “Bone Wars” of the late 19th and early 20th century, focusing on Earl Douglass, a fossil expert whose search for “something big” made him one of the era's most successful “bone hunters.” Ray's sweeping scenes of the dry Utah landscape capture the excitement of the hunt, while drawings of the paleontologists' presumed fossil finds, hand tools, and graphs and charts offer insight into the meticulous nature of the work. Clear, rich prose documents Douglass's quest—“His heart pounded with anticipation as he began to chip into the sandstone. Slowly, one tailbone after another was revealed”—and his own field notes are integrated throughout. Ages 8-up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Notes on the Bone Wars, the more than twenty-year-old race to find further dinosaur bones after the discovery of some in 1877 in Colorado, introduce this account of the life and discoveries of Earl Douglas, "one of the most prolific and successful dinosaur hunters of his time." When wealthy Andrew Carnegie demands "something big" for a new hall in his Pittsburgh Natural History Museum, Douglas is sent to find it. After studying topographic maps, geological surveys, and rock strata, Douglas explores Utah in 1908, at first finding only other fossils. Then, searching with William Holland, Douglas finds a bone that means "something big" is in the area. The following year he finally finds an Apatosaurus skeleton. His difficult search becomes his life work. Through his efforts, the area is declared Dinosaur National Monument. The double-page, stark black drawing of a dinosaur skeleton that confronts us as we open the book sets an emotional note while demonstrating the approach Ray uses in this informative history. She combines full-page opaque paintings of the bone hunters at work with many vignettes showing details of the tools and processes used to extract the fossils safely, ship them to museums, and display them for a curious public. There is a romantic quality to her naturalistic illustrations that almost ignores the tedious work she details. Along with many sidebar notes, there are also a list, with sketches of the dinosaurs found in the National Monument, detailed maps, additional factual notes, a glossary, and a bibliography. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Using the same tawny palette as in Down the Colorado (Farrar, 2007), Ray has painted soft-edged backdrops for her lucid exposition of the life work of Earl Douglass, fossil-finder extraordinaire. Benefitting from the Cope/Marsh "Bone Wars" and the deep pockets of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Douglass embarked on a1909 expedition to the Uinta Basin (Utah) to find Carnegie's demand for "something big." What he found was BIG—a bone bed that ultimately became Dinosaur National Monument. The readable text is bracketed by large illustrations and smaller diagrams, charts, maps, and, most importantly, direct quotes from Douglass's field journals. Added for readers' edification is a cast of characters of 10 Jurassic dinosaurs found at Dinosaur Mountain, a large map of the monument (which spreads across the Utah/Colorado border), an extensive author's note, a brief bio of Douglass, and an even briefer one of Carnegie. With its sand-colored pages, the warmth of the palette, and the brown script of the journal notes, this is a vibrant window into the burgeoning world of American paleontology a century ago. A rich find.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
In Ray's latest and most deceptively understated biography yet, she profiles Earl Douglass, a fossil hunter who made spectacularly good on his patron Andrew Carnegie's instruction to find "something big." Indeed he did: Exploring a remote area in Utah that eventually became part of Dinosaur National Monument, in 1908 he came upon a trove of fossils containing remains of a massive 75-foot-long Apatosaurus, a juvenile Camarasaurus that is the most complete sauropod skeleton found so far, and dozens of other dinos large and small. Using a palette of warm sandstone browns and yellows, Ray depicts the skinny, bespectacled Douglass and his co-workers exploring rugged landscapes and then carefully excavating fossils from them. Closed out with a set of context-setting afterwords, a dino-gallery and a map of the modern National Park, it's a tale that doesn't need hype-though the title's two words splashed across and filling an entire opening spread will get young viewers' juices flowing from the get-go. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374317898
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 972,586
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: NC1140L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.90 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Kogan Ray numerous books include Down the Colorado: John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer. She lives in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.

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