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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

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,333 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures ...more
Hardcover, 257 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Scientific American (first published 2013)
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3.91  · 
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 ·  1,333 ratings  ·  198 reviews

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Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was one of those kids who was obsessed with dinosaurs. My favorite movie was Land Before Time, I took out stacks of books from the library, pouring over them until I had every dinosaur memorized, and I collected figurines, from Brachiosaurus to Tyrannosaurus Rex.

As I got older, my Dad took me to Dino Town, and to the exhibits when they were in town. But eventually this phase ended, and while I still enjoy learning about them, Brian Switek takes this obsession to a whole new level.

I like to thi
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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”)
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My second five-star in one day!

I love dinosaurs. Really I do. If I hadn't been a science teacher, I'd have been a paleontologist. In fact, when the science curriculum changed to include 'early Earth history,' I was ecstatic!

Anyhow, Mr. Switek covers a myriad of 'in the news' dinosaur stories; in other words, a lot of the 'new stuff,' though he also mentions how ideas and theories concerning dinosaurs and the world they lived in has changed. He covers dinosaur sex - like how DID they do it? And
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, history, non-fiction

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
Blamp Head
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading this book, one is forced to ponder which theories relating to dinosaur lives will stay in vogue, and which will become extinct...


So I popped back to the Mesozoic Era the other day.

Stepped out of the time machine and slammed headlong into a Brontosaurus. Quite a feat to not notice it, given their enormity. "People doubt your species' existence!" I broke the devastating news to the Brontosaurus, "They say you're just an Apatosaurus!"
Poor Brontosaurus hung its looooong neck in shame, alm
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Brandon Gryder
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biology
16th book for 2018.

Written by dinosaur fanatic and science writer Brian Switek, this book was too chatty for me. I prefer books were the author is a little less front and center, and are even richer details, which tend to come from books written by scientists, rather than science journalists. However, the book does offer a useful overview of scientific knowledge as of 2013, covering topics as diverse as evidence for behavioral characteristics (including sex), the apparent misclassification of ju
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author of this book has an allosaurus tattoo (and, I googled him, has two other dinosaur tattoos to match). Did I love this book before he disclosed that fact? Yes. Did it heighten my enjoyment of this book? Considerably.

I'm exaggerating - I would have adored this book whether or not the author was bedecked in dinosaur skin decoration. There's a whole chapter on dinosaur sex!!! Both my college roommates are deeply relieved that they're no longer living with me and will not be held captive as
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sciencewriting
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
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Troy Blackford
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An outrageously fascinating, well-written, and engaging examination of some of the most current dinosaur science, told in a knowledgeable and relatable style. This book catapulted to the top of my favorite paleontological reads as I turned the pages, and I can recommend it to anybody interested in the field. A winner!
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Emma Townshend
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you like popular science, roadtrips, or dinosaurs (COME ON YOU MUST LIKE ONE OF THOSE) you should read this. Incredibly good fun and the excellent scientific info goes in without you noticing.
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Katie Whitt
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I decided to try to read more Nonfiction this year, which wasn't going great until I realized I needed to read NF books about things I'm actually interested in, like I did when I was a kid and read every book my local library had on dinosaurs/animals. This one was recommended to me by another dino-obsessed friend and it did not disappoint! A part of me still wishes I'd become a paleontologist, and get to see all the amazing places and specimens described in this book, plus Switek's obvious enthu ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me during a conversation I had with a scientist from the St. Louis Science Center. I loved it! I haven't read much at all about dinosaurs since I was a child, but in the past year or so, I've had a few encounters with prehistoric evidence that has rekindled my interest in the era. This book was super-accessible and endlessly fascinating (and funny, to boot). It's going to be hard not to be annoying if I hear misinformation about dinos and I want to jump in. And I'll ...more
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not very smart,
Not very quick,
Not nearly as wise as our friend Moby Dick.

-"Brontosaurus," Our Dinosaur Friends record, 1978

Reading this book was a real joy. The author seems to be approximately the same age as I, so it was a lot of fun to reminisce about the TV specials, movies, and whatnot that was part of being a dino-obsessed kid in the 1980s.

Like many kids, I went through a period of wanting to be a paleontologist; unlike me, Switek actually realized his childhood dream and studies prehisto
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A neat look at some longheld (and largely incorrect) thoughts on dinosaurs, and an interesting take on why we are so fascinated by them today. I learned a lot, and thought way more about dinosaur sex than I would have believed.
Hattie Elizabeth
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brian Switek does a fantastic job at writing a book that isn’t so technical you don’t have a clue what it’s on about, and writing a book that at times had me snorting into my coffee cup.

As someone who is a fiend for books about evolution, dinosaurs and pre history this was a great read from start to end and had me engaged throughout the whole thing.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves dinosaurs 🦕
MB Taylor
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, palaeo
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
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pop-science
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
Kam Yung Soh
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference, nature, science
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
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Okay, if you can get past the title and embarrassing cover illustration (now I know how people felt trying to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" in public), this is an EXCELLENT update for any childhood dino-nerds who haven't been keeping up with the latest discoveries. Very readable, enjoyable style, but chock full of good science and interesting anecdotes, many falling into the "everything you thought you knew is wrong" category. Pachycephalosaurus probably didn't butt heads? Triceratops was just an ...more
Danielle T
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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Brian Switek has loved fossils and natural history since he was knee-high to a Stegosaurus, and he's turned that passion into a writing career encompassing articles, blogs, and books for outlets ranging from National Geographic and Nature to Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

His first book, Written in Stone, was published in 2010, followed by My Beloved Brontosaurus (2013), the National Geographi
“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.” 3 likes
“Even now, the world's metamorphosis continues. It's at a rate that's practically impossible to detect with our own eyes, but it's happening. The scale of a human life - measured by the speed of Internet updates or the crawl of a working day - is ill suited to fit the dynamic nature of our planet and the fantastic organisms that continue to evolve here.” 0 likes
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