Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life / Edition 1

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"The best general-audience dinosaur book since the Dinosaur Renaissance began in the 1970s."—Philip J. Currie, coeditor of Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, from the foreword

Dinosaur Odyssey is not only a personable and highly accessible tour of the up-to-date discoveries about the gigantic and famous. It also builds on dinosaur paleontology to far-ranging topics like extinction, climate change, and the possibility of life on Mars. The gift to the reader is both fascination and enlightenment.”—Michael Novacek, author of Terra and Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs

"An odyssey indeed! One of the world's leading dinosaur paleontologists, Sampson draws on a wide variety of sciences, from astronomy and cosmology to microbiology and ecology, in order to portray dinosaurs as living animals. The reader is in for a treat and will emerge with fresh and valuable insights."—Peter Dodson, author of The Horned Dinosaurs

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Editorial Reviews


“A wonderful book, crammed with information that will surprise you.”
Magill's Literary Annual / Salem Press

“This thought-provoking book is a must read not only for dinosaur enthusiasts and science educators but anyone interested in the larger context of life.”
Earth Magazine

“Sampson is right on target. . . . There is no better overview available than ‘Dinosaur Odyssey.’”
Evolution Education And Outreach - David. M. Lovelace

"Ignites our imagination. . . . This is an excellent read for an introduction to dinosaurs and a brilliant tool for teaching ecological first principles."

“A great in-depth read for those seriously interested in the history of dinosaurs.”
Publishers Weekly
If one day you saw a Torvosaurus looking through your second-story window, would it be able to live on the vegetation it found? Dinosaurs, paleontologist Sampson stresses throughout this book, were part of a complex ecosystem, and to understand these beasts, we must also understand the plants and other animals they shared it with, along with factors such as the position of the continents and climate change. Sampson's sprawling study is one of the most comprehensive surveys of dinosaurs and their worlds to date. The author discusses in detail plant life during different dinosaur eras (e.g., there were no flowering plants) and even what insects would have scurried beneath them. Who knew that fossilized fecal matter hid so many clues to a dinosaur's dinner millions of years ago? Sampson addresses the ever popular subject of dinosaur extinctions and develops a comprehensive theory encompassing various dinosaur generations. Highly recommended for all dinosaur fans, although the writing may prove a bit too scholarly for younger buffs. Color and b&w illus., b&w photos. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This fine volume brings the Mesozoic era and dinosaurs to life. Not only does paleontologist Sampson (Utah Museum of Natural History; geology, Univ. of Utah) explain the dynamics between sauropods and the tyrannosaurs that preyed on them, he also reveals the environments that these huge and hugely successful species inhabited. From geologic events and climate change to the botanical base of the food chain upward, Sampson allows the reader to see—and understand—whole Mesozoic ecosystems. Why did dinosaurs grow so large, and how did the herbivores reach gigantic proportions eating conifers and horsetails? To answer such questions, he presents his colleagues' debates, highlighting the vitality of this field. Although his tone is engagingly conversational, Sampson does not shy from close explanations of, say, dinosaur metabolism. In addition to detailing how life worked in the Mesozoic era, Sampson brings eloquence to the grand pageant of evolution and voices concern about how we must take care of our own world. VERDICT This book draws scientifically accurate pictures in a style that is accessible to researchers and general readers alike.—Michal Strutin, Santa Clara Univ. Lib., CA

“A great in-depth read for those seriously interested in the history of dinosaurs.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520241633
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott D. Sampson is a dinosaur paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and educator. He serves as Research Curator at the Utah Museum of Natural History and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah.  He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he continues dinosaur research and actively pursues writing and consulting projects surrounding education reform and sustainability.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

1 Treasure Island 1

2 Stardust Saurians 19

3 Dramatis Dinosaurae 35

4 Drifting Continents and Globe-Trotting Dinosaurs 53

5 Solar Eating 71

6 The River of Life 87

7 The Green Gradient 103

8 Panoply of Predators 123

9 Hidden Strands 143

10 Of Horn-Heads and Duck-Bills 157

11 The Goldilocks Hypothesis 175

12 Cinderellasaurus 193

13 Jurassic Park Dreams 213

14 West Side Story 233

15 The Way of All Creatures 255

Epilogue: Whispers from the Grave 273

Notes and References 283

Glossary 305

Art and Photograph Credits 317

Index 319

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