Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils

Overview

CSI meets Jurassic Park in a fascinating, revelatory look at dinosaurs and their world through the million-year-old clues they left behind
What if we woke up one morning all of the dinosaur bones in the world were gone? How would we know these iconic animals had a165-million year history on earth, and had adapted to all land-based environments from pole to pole? What clues would be left to discern not only their presence, but also to learn about their sex lives, raising of ...
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Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils

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Overview

CSI meets Jurassic Park in a fascinating, revelatory look at dinosaurs and their world through the million-year-old clues they left behind
What if we woke up one morning all of the dinosaur bones in the world were gone? How would we know these iconic animals had a165-million year history on earth, and had adapted to all land-based environments from pole to pole? What clues would be left to discern not only their presence, but also to learn about their sex lives, raising of young, social lives, combat, and who ate who? What would it take for us to know how fast dinosaurs moved, whether they lived underground, climbed trees, or went for a swim?
Welcome to the world of ichnology, the study of traces and trace fossils—such as tracks, trails, burrows, nests, toothmarks, and other vestiges of behavior—and how through these remarkable clues, we can explore and intuit the rich and complicated lives of dinosaurs. With a unique, detective-like approach, interpreting the forensic clues of these long-extinct animals that leave a much richer legacy than bones, Martin brings the wild world of the Mesozoic to life for the twenty-first century reader.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 01/06/2014
Martin’s popular, non-academic debut bubbles over with the joy of scientific discovery as he shares his natural enthusiasm for the blend of sleuthing and imagination that he brings to the field of ichnology—the study of trace fossils and features left by organismal behavior, such as tracks, nests, and burrows. These yield evidence that is both more abundant than the bones, which Martin playfully disparages as “body fossils,” and reveal more about how, where, and when dinosaurs live, moved, ate, and raised their young. Martin marvels at the awkward way that scientific knowledge moves forward, and he shows no jaded academic anger as he highlights how the dramatic rewards of finally making new discoveries are complicated by the human drama of scientists with competing theories butting heads in academia or in the popular press. He finishes with a section on how extrapolation back to the Mesozoic Era from modern species is another powerful tool for understanding dinosaur behavior. The energy behind Martin’s “what if” saurian life scenarios is no mere distraction; his science is solid and his descriptions of the current state of classification and knowledge are clear, up to date, and detailed. The books is great fun for anyone looking to revive their childhood dinosaur obsessions. (Mar.)
Birdbooker Report

Past praise for Anthony J. Martin:Martin shows how ancient trace fossils directly relate to modern traces and trace makers, among them, insects, crabs, shorebirds, alligators, and sea turtles. The result is an aesthetically appealing and scientifically accurate book.

Raymond Freeman-Lynde
“The pedagogy is excellent, and the explanations of technical material are accessible.”
Gus Winterfeld
“Packed with information. Martin’s style makes the reading fun and easy. An excellent resource that provides a wealth of information and links for further exploration.”
Geological Magazine
“Full of valuable and useful information.”
Karen Chin
“Anthony Martin's thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking book explains the critical importance of non-skeletal fossils, which are often-underrated, yet provide key insights on almost every aspect of dinosaur lives. The clear and lively text skillfully integrates information and is brightened by Martin's fascinating stories of research and his wonderfully quirky sense of humor.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Even in the most active poses, skeletons can seem inert—more like frozen sculptures than the moving parts of animals that were once alive. Fortunately for us, dinosaurs left us far more than just their bones. Anthony Martin draws on a wealth of fossil clues, from footprints to feces, to explore Mesozoic lives and the field of ichnology, the study of trace fossils. Records of prehistoric behavior and biology, such fossils are often the closest we'll ever come to seeing long-extinct dinosaurs in the flesh. Readers will learn as much about how to calculate the speed of a dinosaur from the size and spacing of its tracks as about the rush of enthusiasm and curiosity Mr. Martin feels upon seeing prehistoric traces. Mr. Martin is an enthusiastic and affable guide. Whispers in stone, trace fossils are moments of ancient life.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-19
Paleontologist Martin (Environmental Sciences/Emory Univ.; Life Traces of the Georgia Coast: Revealing the Unseen Lives of Plants and Animals, 2013, etc.) has written textbooks, but this is his first work for a popular audience, and his choice to use humor as an educational tool meets with mixed results. Everyone has seen their bones, but it turns out that dinosaurs also left behind nests, tracks, trails, burrows, tooth marks, feces, skin and intestinal contents. These have become valuable enough to produce ichnology, a subspecialty of paleontology that studies trace—i.e., not bone or teeth—fossils. A pioneer in the field, Martin delivers an expert, if overly effervescent, account of what trace fossils reveal about their environment as well as dinosaur social behavior, movement, quarrels, sex lives and care of their young. Their tracks are everywhere. Any ichnologist worth his salt can use a single footprint to identify the dinosaur, while a collection of prints reveals its height, weight, stride length, speed and perhaps tells a story. A famous site in Australia seems to show a herd of small dinosaurs fleeing a predator. Experts agree that reptiles in the Mesozoic used the same survival strategies as they do today. They built nests and laid eggs in them; dozens of both have been turning up for decades. They dug burrows whose first example was discovered only in 2007, complete with its fossilized inhabitants. An impressive amount of behavioral and dietary information is revealed in their abundant coprolites (fossilized feces), not-so-abundant stomach contents, and the rare preserved vomit and urinary deposits. Most scholarly attempts at comedy, including this one, make for a painful experience, but readers who can tolerate the relentlessly glib, jokey prose will learn a great deal about these fascinating, long-dead creatures.
The Dallas Morning News
“Martin’s greatest talent may be in evoking the lost world brought to light by dinosaur traces. Ichnology is a science of absence, one that re-creates an entire ecosystem out of a few dimples in some rocks. Martin is a skilled tracker and a worthy guide.”
David Varricchio
“An enjoyable and stimulating read for both the dinosaur fan and expert alike that highlights the extensive and largely unrecognized role ichnology has played in revealing dinosaur behavior and ecology, and the impact dinosaurs may have had on past and modern ecosystems. Anthony Martin uses his extensive experience to provide an amusing, thorough, and provocative review of dinosaur trace fossils, from tacks and burrows all the wya through regurgitates and coprolites.”
James Kirkland
“People are amazed what paleontology can deduce from bones—Anthony shows what can be learned with a simple trace in the sand. No other book in recent years expresses the joy of employing the scientific method to reveal the ancient world.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984995
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 3/6/2014
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 102,249
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony J. Martinis a Professor at Emory University, a paleontologist, geologist, and one of the world’s most accomplished ichnologists. He is the co-discoverer of the first known burrowing dinosaur, found the oldest dinosaur burrows in the geologic record, and documented the best assemblage of polar-dinosaur tracks in the Southern Hemisphere. He is the author of two textbooks on dinosaurs and lives in Atlanta, GA.
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