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House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth
     

House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth

by Richard Conniff
 

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A gripping tale of 150 years of scientific adventure, research, and discovery at the Yale Peabody Museum

This fascinating book tells the story of how one museum changed ideas about dinosaurs, dynasties, and even the story of life on earth. The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, now celebrating its 150th anniversary, has remade the way we see the

Overview


A gripping tale of 150 years of scientific adventure, research, and discovery at the Yale Peabody Museum

This fascinating book tells the story of how one museum changed ideas about dinosaurs, dynasties, and even the story of life on earth. The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, now celebrating its 150th anniversary, has remade the way we see the world. Delving into the museum’s storied and colorful past, award-winning author Richard Conniff introduces a cast of bold explorers, roughneck bone hunters, and visionary scientists. Some became famous for wresting Brontosaurus, Triceratops, and other dinosaurs from the earth, others pioneered the introduction of science education in North America, and still others rediscovered the long-buried glory of Machu Picchu.
 
In this lively tale of events, achievements, and scandals from throughout the museum’s history. Readers will encounter renowned paleontologist O. C. Marsh who engaged in ferocious combat with his “Bone Wars” rival Edward Drinker Cope, as well as dozens of other intriguing characters. Nearly 100 color images portray important figures in the Peabody’s history and special objects from the museum’s 13-million-item collections. For anyone with an interest in exploring, understanding, and protecting the natural world, this book will deliver abundant delights.

Editorial Reviews

Niles Eldredge

“Natural History Museums are enjoying a renaissance of appreciation as invaluable libraries of the earth’s biological and cultural diversity. Less well known is the high quality of science pursued in these institutions. Richard Conniff’s riveting account of the history of Yale’s Peabody Museum shows how scientific research is a museum's heart and soul every bit as much as the scientific treasures stored and displayed in them.”—Niles Eldredge, author of Eternal Ephemera
Frans de Waal

“What a rich history this book tells, and with such enthusiasm, humor, and attention to the oddest details! Richard Conniff makes you want to dive into the collections that have been accumulating for 150 years at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, gathered with loving scholarly attention, transforming our knowledge of the natural world and the human race.”—Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
Brian Switek

“From the great Bone Rush of the 19th century to biology's genetic revolution, the Peabody Museum of Natural History has been a scientific powerhouse for a century and a half. There's no better guide to the way this singular institution has changed the way we see nature than Richard Conniff. In warm, enthusiastic prose, he takes us to sun baked badlands strewn with dinosaur skeletons, the sterile quiet of the modern biology lab, and beyond, drawing us back to meet the people who built the Peabody as they strove to understand life and time.”—Brian Switek, author of Written in Stone and My Beloved Brontosaurus
Carl Safina

“This book is about one of the great stories of science’s ongoing coming of age. But the best reason to read it is that author Richard Conniff can’t seem to help but do what science writing should always do: he tells a story so well that you don’t realize how much you’re learning in the sweep of every paragraph.”—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
Alison Richard

“A fascinating and magisterial review of the history of the Peabody Museum, and the major figures who made it. It plunges deeply into science, objects, and the lives of the people who collected those objects and made them ‘speak,’ and it does so in an accessible and, indeed, page-turning way.”—Alison Richard, Yale University
Bernd Heinrich

“An important and riveting story of how real-life scientists built a great museum and what it means for biology and natural history. Exciting from beginning to end, House of Lost Worlds is for anyone who loves adventurous reading.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives
Carl Zimmer

“Museums are not just full of fossils and minerals. They’re also packed with wonderfully human stories. House of Lost Worlds tells the stories of one of the world’s great natural history museums, and in the process, it becomes a fascinating chronicle of the rise of American science.”—Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex
Neil Shubin

“With a history that extends from the badlands of the American West to the peaks of Machu Picchu, Yale's Peabody Museum is a national treasure. Richard Conniff brings the rich history of the Museum alive with stories of the great characters whose discoveries and ideas transformed science over the past century and a half.”—Neil H. Shubin, The University of Chicago, author of Your Inner Fish
Thomas E. Lovejoy

“Remarkable . . . superbly written and makes the history and individuals come alive. . . . this book should have a much larger appeal than just Peabody-philes because it is so much about the role of museums in the development of American science.”—Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University
Science News

"In House of Lost Worlds, Richard Conniff tells the story of the Peabody through the curious characters connected to it. . . . Throughout the book, [He] emphasizes the discoveries yet to be made and the pleasure of finding out something new."—Science News
Wall Street Journal - Jennie Erin Smith

"Conniff [is] a writer with a gift for teasing out the bizarre human dramas endemic to natural history. . . . While House of Lost Worlds chronicles the Peabody’s achievements and luminaries quite thoroughly, it also takes a hard-nosed look at its debacles."—Jennie Erin Smith, Wall Street Journal
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-01-13
A rich and enthusiastic history of Yale University's impressive Peabody Museum of Natural History. The Peabody traces its roots back to a Yale undergraduate, Othniel Charles Marsh. In 1866, when Marsh was appointed to a paleontology professorship at Yale, he asked his wealthy banker uncle George Peabody, the father of modern philanthropy, to fund a museum. He generously gave them $150,000, and the second Peabody Museum was born (he had funded Harvard's Peabody two weeks earlier). As Conniff (The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth, 2010, etc.) notes in this thoroughly enjoyable history of the museum, it would emphasize, at Peabody's request, "zoology, geology, and mineralogy." Harvard got the people; Yale got the dinosaurs—and plenty of them, thanks to Marsh. He led numerous expeditions into the West and discovered hundreds of new species (many named after him) while dealing with Native Americans, even befriending Oglala Sioux chief Red Cloud, helping him meet with President Ulysses Grant to discuss treaties. Marsh was involved in the contentious "Bone Wars" with rival paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope, but it did lead to both discovering fossils of many of the best known dinosaurs. Conniff covers all the major figures who helped make the museum great: James Dwight Dana (geology), George Bird Grinnell (founder of the Audubon Society), Addison Verrill (maritime fossils), G. Evelyn Hutchinson (ecology), Hiram Bingham III (discoverer of Machu Picchu), and museum director Richard Swann Lull, who testified on evolution at the Scopes trial. Some of the millions of items collected over the years are displayed for all to enjoy, while most lie in the museum's basement or archives and storage facilities around West Haven, waiting to be rediscovered. Colored, boxed sections highlighting people and events and over 100 illustrations and photos provide a pleasant coffee table-book feel, and 23 pages of footnotes attest to Conniff's exhaustive research. Celebrating the museum's 150th anniversary, this book sparkles with delightful stories and anecdotes about natural history told in a lively style.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300211634
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
04/12/2016
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
259,467
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author


Richard Conniff is a prize-winning science writer and journalist and the author of nine books including The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth. He lives in Old Lyme, CT.

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