My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs
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My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  492 ratings  ·  109 reviews
One of Amazon's Best Science Books of 2013

A Hudson Booksellers Staff Pick for the Best Books of 2013

One of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Spring Science Books

Selected by Apple’s iBookstore as one of the best books of April

A Bookshop Santa Cruz Staff Pick

Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in o...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2013)
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Just like the author of this book, Brian Switek, I did not get the memo that only children were supposed to love dinosaurs to distraction. I grew up next to dinosaur country, the badlands of Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park by Brooks, Alberta. My first dinosaur book was a How and Why book and my father used to claim that I knew the names of "all the dinosaurs" by the time I was two. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do remember insisting on going to the Chamber of Commerce displ...more
Doug Clark
My Beloved Brontosaurus by Brian Switek, published in April, 2013, is a review of the most recent discoveries about dinosaurs. Switek is an amateur paleontologist with a life-long fascination with dinosaurs. He’s written many articles for quite a few magazines. He is also an online columnist for National Geographic.

The book opens with Switek writing about his fascination with dinosaurs from an early age. He is especially nostalgic about the dinosaur once known as Brontosaurus (“Thunder Lizard”)...more
My Beloved Brontosaurus is exactly the sort of book I wanted about dinosaurs. Chatty, personal, but still closely focused on the creatures and how they lived (and died). I know a fair bit about dinosaurs thanks to another Coursera course, Dino 101, so not a lot of the information was new to me, but it was interesting to read it in another context, and to read slightly different angles on it. Switek's enthusiasm for the subject is kind of adorable, and actually made me smile a lot.

In terms of the...more
The library had quite a few copies of this book on display, so I picked one up. When I was younger one of my biggest fears was that a giant T-Rex would come stomping over the mountains, smashing the cities to bits, and then end up in my yard intending me for a snack.

I haven't kept up too much with what is going on in the dinosaur world lately. I have vague memories of raptors in Jurassic Park (I thought - are they new?). I remember when Brontosaurus was no longer a dinosaur. And somewhere along...more

Let's face it: dinosaurs have been culturally demarcated as kitschy kid stuff - triggers for nostalgia and ironic whimsy, but not a subject to take seriously.

Unfortunately, Mr. Switek isn't wrong. A fascination with dinosaurs is practically a rite of passage for children - I know I certainly spent the better part of my childhood obsessing over prehistoric creatures. That same fascination as an adult, however, seems to be frowned upon and shamed. Switek him...more
This book does a wonderful job of reexamining all that has changed in our understanding of dinosaurs since I was a kid and doing it from a place of love for dinosaurs that rejoices in knowing them better, even if it means setting aside things like the "beloved brontosaurus". I did find the chattiness of the memoir elements of the book to be a bit much, but that conversational style worked much better when Switek was focused on dinosaurs rather than himself, and his humor and enthusiasm brightens...more
Brandon Gryder
Mr. Switek is without a doubt infatuated with dinosaurs. As someone who tries to notice and keep up with new discoveries and dinosaur news, I was excited to pick this book up. Unfortunately Switek's child like giddiness for dinosaurs is replaced with a sour grapes, holier than thou adult view of the of the field.

This book could have been awesome but ended up being a big corprolite.
You know how you talk to a guy who's passionate about some topic, and it's really cool to talk to someone so knowledgeable and excited, but then it gets kind of hard because he keeps flitting from thing to thing and repeating himself because he assumes you know both more and less than you actually do? This is that in book form.
My Beloved Brontosaurus was a quick read dealing with a renewed obsession of mine: dinosaurs.

Brian Switek blogs for National Geographic on all things prehistoric, and I've been following him for a while a now and decided to give his new book a try.

True to his blogging skills, Switek makes this book a breeze to read through. Like it says on the tin, the book is part travelogue and part science. Most of it rehashes what we know about dinosaurs and how our views have changed over the last hundred y...more
MB Taylor
I really enjoyed this; reading books like this make me wonder why I don't read more natural history. Switek has a conversational style, that helps make the book easy to understand. I wish it were more lavishly illustrated; the few illustrations are all gray-scale images and frequently too small.

My Beloved Brontosaurus is about how our perception of dinosaurs has evolved since their fossils were first discovered. The slow dumb dinosaurs of my youth have been replaced with agile high metabolism c...more
There's been a lot of new discoveries in paleontology since I was a kid, from feathers on T. Rex to the news that Triceratops may not have been the animal's adult form. Fossil-hound Switek examines many of the new discoveries, some of which I was familiar with and some of which I wasn't, and muses on why many people prefer to cling to the images of dinosaurs from their childhood.

Some of the chapters are a bit repetitive, but Switek's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. If you've been payin...more
Like anyone who, as a kid, had dinosaur books and dinosaur sheets and dinosaur pajamas and dinosaur toys and dinosaur dreams, I can get a bit defensive on the subject of modern-day dinosaur science. Anytime paleontologists announce that, hey, T. Rex was actually just a scavenger or, wow, dinosaurs had fur and feathers — that doesn't sit well. This isn't how I imagined dinosaurs growing up. This isn't cool. This isn't right.

But Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus has convinced me it's time to...more
The BOOK JACKET becomes a POSTER. The title is great. And the book is just enormous fun. There's not a lot of news in here that will surprise a person who has rabidly been keeping up with dinosaur news lately, but if you've momentarily allowed yourself to be distracted by something like your job, family, or keeping your life under control, this is a great update on everything you wouldn't want to miss.

Even if you are up to date on your dino facts, this is a delightful refresher, and it's nice t...more
I was a kid who loved dinosaurs. Specifically, I loved a Reading Rainbow episode on a book called "Digging Up Dinosaurs". But of course, I did not grow up to become a paleontologist and my now-casual interest in the thunder lizards is only indulged by re-watching Jurassic Park and the occasional news headline. So I picked up this book. A quick and easy read, it taught me some interesting (hopefully up-to-date) dino facts, such as that T-rex and his buddies had fuzzy feathers, and that the only e...more
Danielle T
I've been following Switek's blog and twitter for quite some time now, and really enjoyed his dead tree works too. Part travelogue that brought back memories of visiting Utah's dinosaur museums en route to Phoenix as a child and part natural history on how our image of dinosaurs has changed over the last century, this was a delight to read. I hadn't kept up with the literature on sauropods as much as I used to and was quite bummed to find out that seismosaurus and ultrasaurus aren't legitimate s...more
A good all around read to fill you in on the changes in the world of the "dinosaurs". From the Dinosaur Renaissance to the Dinosaur Enlightenment. There is even a mention of Carthage College. Oh, and a whole bunch of ideas for a dinosaur inspired road trip across the country.
Based upon reviews and recommendations, I was expecting to be more enthralled than I ended up being. The information provided is interesting and decently documented (especially for a biographical tale) but presented in pedestrian manner. The author seemed torn between providing a tale of his love affair with dinosaurs and wanting to update the reader on the most recent views on dinosaur colors, feathers, sex, life, etc. Also his heavy-handed pushing of evolutionary theory was obtrusive and unnee...more
Abraham Thunderwolf
One of my earliest memories is walking into the then closed for renovations dinosaur hall at the Field Museum. I remember the fresh drywall seeming like a labyrinth and near the center there was monstrous skeletons in glaring light looking down at me. I can count the times I've been that scared on single hand. Fear gave way to simple apprehension because I eventually recognized the cyclopean bones as dinosaurs, my worry shifted to getting caught somewhere where I wasn't supposed to be. A museum...more
This book is a well-balanced group of essays about interesting topics not well-known by the general public but definitely worth knowing. It's got changes in the perspective of Dino existence as a whole! Dino sex! Feathers! And even discusses aspects from Benton's book about the catastrophic disasters that cause extinctions. It's a great read for anyone wanting to gain more current knowledge into recent Dino studies!
I recently visited the Smithsonian museum of Natural History to catch one last glimpse of the fossil exhibit before it closed for five years. After walking amongst those old bones, I knew I couldn't leave the gift store without a book on dinosaurs--fortunately they had this for sale!

Who didn't love dinosaurs when they were a kid? Yet like many wholesome childhood fascinations, this interest tends to drop away in our teens. I don't know why, since these guys are as incredible as ever. Switek does...more
Like most people my age, I grew up misidentifying the world's favorite long-necked sauropod as a "Brontosaurus," and was crushed to discover years later that my extensive childhood knowledge of dinosaurs could have been so intrinsically flawed, so naturally the premise of this book appealed to me. Switek sells his Brontosaurus as a science lesson packaged as a nostalgia trip, an easy digest of all the latest on the terrible lizards presented by someone who also used to answer every question abou...more
Since my two year old has been on a dinosaur kick and my dinosaur knowledge is at least 20 years out of date, I decided to brush up on my dino knowledge. My Beloved Brontosaurus was a fun read, although not exactly what I was looking for. I think I learned more about how paleontology works--the debates and reinterpretations of known fossils, new techniques that allow scientists to scan the inside of skulls and other bones, insights from paleopathology--than I did about individual dino species. T...more
A most enjoyable read, following Brian Switek as he travels to museums and excavation sites to gain a better understanding of the dinosaurs. He explores everything from the sex lives of the dinos to their feathers to their extinction. It looks like it was the meteor that hit Earth that finished them off. Interesting to think that without that meteor the dinos would still be dominating the planets while the mammals are hiding from them during the day, coming out only during the night.
Switek also...more
I listened to this as an audio book on various trips around Arizona, which made Switek's descriptions of the Utah/ Southwest landscape where the digs took place much more vivid and lively for me. I don't know that I would have enjoyed the book as much if I didn't know about dinosaurs a bit already...I could picture a lot of the ones he was describing so I felt familiar with some of the material. It's always fascinating for me to learn about how science changes; how something EVERYONE KNOWS can b...more
Judy Hall
This book is an overview of humanity's relationship to dinosaurs. That's the best way I can describe it. It's meant to be an overview of some of the most important facet of our understanding of dinosaurs and how that understanding has evolved since humanity first identified what dinosaurs were.

It was a fascinating book. I was amazed at how much I don't know. My reading about dinosaurs has always been casual, but still, I felt like I should know more. That's touched on here. The author writes ab...more
Brad Wheeler
I picked this book up on a whim when I suddenly had an urge to read about dinosaurs. Turns out it was exactly what I ass looking for: an approachable survey with a bit of personality to it. Occasionally too much personality, granted, but it was highly readable and given my lack of experience with the topic, that counted for a lot.

My only complaint, aside from an occasional excess of style on the author's part, was that on a number of occasions, the author would broach a subject like dinosaur se...more
Like most kids - or boys, at least - I was in love with dinosaurs. My favorite was Triceratops. I still remember visiting the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah when I was about 5 years old. When I had a son of my own I went back so he could see it (which resulted in him wanting to be a paleontologist until he was around 12). I drew numerous pictures of dinosaurs (some of which I still have, and yeah, they're pretty bad) and the stuffed animal I slept with (until I got sick o...more
I was one of "those kids" who as so absolutely crazy about dinosaurs I'd watch every documentary I could find, read every book I could, devour The Land Before Time, and even beg my parents to see Jurassic Park in theatres even though I was only six years old (needless to say, that one didn't fly). My parents bought me Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus for Christmas, reminding me of all the love I'd had for dinosaurs as a kid - a kid who wanted to be a paleontologist.

It's been a while since...more
Kam-Yung Soh
A fascinating book that not only sums up our current knowledge about dinosaurs but is also a personal journey for the author as he relates how his childhood passion for dinosaurs have developed into a mania that current adult dinosaur lovers can relate to.

Starting with the history of dinosaur research, he shows how previous ideas (like the slow, swamp loving Brontosaurus) have changed to reveal dinosaurs as they are today: dynamic, fast moving, feather clad creatures; but with the loss of ill-de...more
My Beloved Brontosaurus made me regret not pursuing my childhood dream to become a paleontologist. Somewhere along the way, somewhere between puberty and adulthood, I set aside my dinosaur fandom for other things. Now in my thirties, I could kick myself. Never mind the fact that science needs more ladies in the field, in my opinion.

At the peak of my dinosaur obsession in the 1980's, fluffy dinosaurs were not a thing. In fact it was preposterous to even imagine such. Then came Jurassic Park. And...more
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“I nurtured my dinomania with documentaries, delighted in the dino-themed B movies I brought home from the video store, and tore up my grandparents' backyard in my search of a perfect Triceratops nest. Never mind that the classic three-horned dinosaur never roamed central New Jersey, or that the few dinosaur fossils found in the state were mostly scraps of skeletons that had been washed out into the Cretaceous Atlantic. My fossil hunter's intuition told me there just had to be a dinosaur underneath the topsoil, and I kept excavating my pit. That is, until I got the hatchet out of my grandfather's toolshed and tried to cut down a sapling that was in my way. My parents bolted out of the house and put a stop to my excavation. Apparently, I hadn't filled out the proper permits before I started my dig.” 2 likes
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