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Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs
     

Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs

by Michael J. Novacek
 

Over the past six years Michael Novacek, the Provost of Science at the American Museum of Natural History, has led a team of international scientists to the Gobi Desert on the greatest dinosaur expedition of the late 20th century.

Closed to the West since the 1920's, the remote sands of Mongolia's Gobi Desert constitute the richest fossil site in the world.

Overview

Over the past six years Michael Novacek, the Provost of Science at the American Museum of Natural History, has led a team of international scientists to the Gobi Desert on the greatest dinosaur expedition of the late 20th century.

Closed to the West since the 1920's, the remote sands of Mongolia's Gobi Desert constitute the richest fossil site in the world. In Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs, Novacek invites the reader along with his team as he recounts the day-to-day drama of field exploration and discusses the remarkable discoveries that he and his colleagues unearthed, fossil finds that have helped to reshape our understanding of the dinosaur and early mammal era.

Interweaving the adventure of field research with chapters that bring the reader up to date on contemporary dinosaur theory and science, Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs brings the excitement of scientific discovery to life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1990, a team of paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History and the Mongolian State Museum began to explore the Gobi Desert for fossils; nearly 70 years had elapsed since the last American expedition, under Roy Chapman Andrews. Team leader Novacek, provost of science and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the American museum recounts six years of fieldwork in a paleontological paradise. The banner year was 1993, when the team found a trove of dinosaurs, eggs, nests and early mammals, some new to science. It is an exciting story of adventure and discovery. The Gobi Desert is one of the earth's most hostile environments, with sandstorms and extreme heat, causing dehydration and exhaustion. Novacek interweaves chapters on the expedition with discussions of the importance of the fossil record; he takes us into the Cretaceous (140 million to 65 million years ago) in brief vignettes. In addition to his account of the expedition, Novacek has given us a brilliant introduction to paleontology. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Novacek, senior vice-president and provost of science at the American Museum of Natural History, brings the search for dinosaurs to life with this first-person account of the six years of joint expeditions into the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. He vividly describes the logistical nightmares and the political realities of these Mongolian-American joint ventures as well as the excitement of discovering new kinds of dinosaurs and mammals. As a bonus to this story, he also provides an engaging introduction to vertebrate paleontology along with its related sciences. Technical terminology occasionally sneaks through without full explanation, yet the book is eminently readable. Excellent illustrations by Ed Heck complement the text. Highly recommended for any library serving patrons with an interest in fossils, especially dinosaurs.Jeanne R. Davidson, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis
Kirkus Reviews
Field paleontology in Mongolia's Gobi Desert is at once the most difficult and the most rewarding of scientific endeavors; here's a firsthand account by the leader of a major expedition.

Dinosaur buffs already know the spectacular fossils brought back from the Gobi by previous generations of paleontologists. But the Cold War intervened, preventing Western scientists from exploring the fossil beds for six decades. With the breakup of the Soviet empire, Novacek (curator of vertebrate paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History) decided to seize the opportunity to explore the Gobi. The expedition had to overcome incredible logistical and political barriers: scorching heat, deadly sandstorms, and obtaining food and fuel in a country whose economy is in free fall. But as Novacek and his colleagues quickly realized once they reached the vast desert, there were spectacular fossil beds awaiting them. In some places a scientist could pick up dozens of well-preserved specimens in a short walk. Among their discoveries: dinosaur nests, some with the skeletons of brooding parents preserved with the eggshells; small theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs), including the now-famous Velociraptor; herds of the sheep-size grazer Protoceratops, at all ages from juvenile to adult; and a wealth of early birds and mammals. The book alternates descriptions of the various expeditions (the team has returned several times to explore new areas) with informative and up-to-date discussions of modern paleontology. The reader will learn a great deal not only about the Gobi discoveries, but about such related concepts as how a fossil is created and preserved, plate tectonics, the evolution of birds (probably from a theropod ancestor), and theories of why the dinosaurs became extinct (Novacek is cautious about the asteroid impact theory).

A fine treatment for the general reader and a treasure trove for dinosaur buffs.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385477741
Publisher:
The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/01/1996
Pages:
367
Product dimensions:
6.62(w) x 9.64(h) x 1.28(d)

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