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Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils
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Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  41 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 6th 2014 by Pegasus Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  215 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book takes the rather refreshing view that the most interesting things we know about the dinosaurs are to be gleaned not from their skeletons — impressive as they are, they are mute; we don’t even have whole skeletons in many cases, or even know exactly how the parts that we do have go together. Cue trace fossils: footprints, nests, all the ways the dinosaurs impacted their landscapes and left signs of their passing (not to mention their eating, breeding, and — hold on, sorry, in the spirit ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I've long believed that if a person is passionate enough about a topic, that passion can be harnessed to make others interested as well. This book, on the study of dinosaurs' trace fossils, is a good example of that.

I've never been fascinated by dinosaurs, though my 3-year-old son and 61-year-old father are. But the energy that author Anthony J. Martin brings to this work made it a good read nonetheless, especially since he sprinkles humor and anecdote throughout.

My one criticism: Though it was
Bonnie McDaniel
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Two excellent science books in a row. This is a wonderful thing.

I picked this book up at the library mainly because of the magical word in the title: D*I*N*O*S*A*U*R*S. I've always loved them; one of the first toys I ever had was a battery-operated, six-inch-tall, motorized Tyrannosaurus Rex. Press one button on the controller, and the little green guy would walk forward, with enough noise to raise the dead; press the other button, and he would roar. As I remember (this was in the Late Cretaceo
Kam Yung Soh
A fantastic book that looks at one aspect of paleontology that often is ignored by popular science articles: the trace fossils that dinosaurs leave behind. But the book is best read if you already have some knowledge about dinosaurs and paleontology as the author rattles off a long list of dinosaur species and eras in the book without explanation, which would have made the book much longer.

In fascinating detail, this books looks at what kind of traces dinosaurs leave behind other than their bone
Reading Reader
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm guessing Anthony Martin is a great teacher. He definitely loves his material, and his sense of humor must keep his classes entertaining. He's got a great observational knack and a passion for helping others to be able to mentally envision things that can be inferred from the fossil record.

Unfortunately, he needs a better editor -- one who can come down on him hard and force the cuts that desperately should have been made to this book. The material is good, but the book is way longer than is
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: quit
I was one of those annoying precocious children who loved dinosaurs. I recall enjoying books by Jack Horner and Robert Bakker among others. I've recently been revisiting some childhood interests and came across this book. It sounded like a cool niche area of paleontology. I still remember the dinosaur nests that made Horner famous, and getting to see some trackways as a kid. So I was excited to read more about this type of thing. The book also seemed like it was aimed at a semi-educated layman a ...more
John Branney
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining book about dinosaurs and ichnology, the study of trace fossils and traces – tracks, trails, burrows, nests, tooth marks, and other evidence of dinosaur behavior.

I thought the author did a superb job of entertaining the reader with a dry and potentially boring subject. Let’s face it, the dinosaurs themselves are the rock stars and studying their tracks and trails is a lot less entertaining than studying the big guys. It was like reading a book about the clothes and eating
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been a lifelong dino nerd and had wanted to be a paleontologist (until I realized all the hard brain science to get there was way too over my head). I had no idea about trace fossils and ichnology. It's amazing! Dinosaur tracks, trails, nests, tooth marks, burrows, eating rocks (gastroliths), projectile puke, poop and pee...for anyone into dinosaurs and evolution, this is some seriously fascinating stuff. And the author gives it a sense of humor and numerous imaginative scenarios to help th ...more
Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: postponed
I read about a quarter of the book. Interesting information, but I didn't care so much for the author's style - trying too hard to popularize the material. However, I recommend his Teaching Company lectures on "Major Transitions in Evolution."
Alicia Kaiser
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Everything we know about dinosaurs from everything except their bones! Fascinating and surprisingly hilarious. The examples and figures were so fantastic!
have been on something of a dinosaur kick lately, and so was delighted to discover Martin’s book in my library. I had previously read his book ‘The Evolution Underground’, and enjoyed it lots. At any rate, I’m always up for something that fills me with more useless trivia to annoy other people with, which should be the only goal of such things. I didn’t realise until I was a good deal of the way through this that
First of all, this book is fun and funny. My favourite science teacher in high scho
Anna Kaling
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My friend read the back cover blurb of this while I was reading it and said, "CSI meets Jurassic Park? That's the most amazing thing I've ever heard." She wasn't wrong and the book did not disappoint (she's in line to read it now I'm finished).

Dinosaurs Without Bones is one of those rare science-y nonfiction books that manages to be informative and entertaining in equal measure. The author has a lovely style and a conversational tone, but it isn't patronising and it never becomes about him or h
Donato Colangelo
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a hell of a book. It is so good for the huge amount of fashinating hints and information that I should revise the opinion about the other dino books I have read so far.
Paleoichnology is fascinating beyond any expectation since it allows palentology to reconstruct the moment in which a trace was left and, if we are lucky enough, to surmise the environment that sorrounded the maker at the time. And what other animals were probably doing. And why they probably did what they did. I know tha
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dinosaurs
As a fledgling dino enthusiast, my biggest takeaway from this book was how to be skeptical. I learned a lot about trace fossils and dino behavior, of course. But, I also learned how to question what I'm reading and think of alternate explanations while practicing seeing the bigger picture and getting a more realistic view of the not so black and white world of science. Martin has definitely helped me grow a little more as a science-minded individual, making this an easy 5-stars!
His terrible puns
Laura (Madsen) McLain
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting look at trace fossils, which is any fossil evidence other than bones that gives us information about how dinosaurs lived--how they behaved, what they ate, how they walked, how they defended themselves, etc. This includes tracks (footprints), nest sites, battle wounds, coprolites (fossilized poop), burrows, gastroliths (stones in the stomach to help break down food), urolites (fossilized splash zones from peeing), and even regurgitalites (fossilized puke!).
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. Having grown up with the image of paleontologists digging in the dirt for bones and chipping away at stone, it hadn't occurred to me how much you can understand from the non-bone traces. Martin describes things clearly for the non-scientist (much appreciated!). But what I also enjoy about the book is how enthusiastic he is about what he does, what he sees, and what he thinks about what he sees. It's a surprisingly fun read.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Only took me a year! Don’t let that fool you, this a great book, just had other things competing for my attention.
This seems like a very specific, somewhat narrow topic, but once you dive in, you’ll realize there is a lot potential information to found in trace fossils. This book makes a good case for widening our paleontological searches.
It’s a great read if you love dinosaurs and paleontology.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not the easiest book to follow as some knowledge of Dinosaurs would ease the pain. I found myself googling dinosaur pictures with a renewed interest. I never realized how many there were. I learned plenty and stuck with the book to the end for the education and the authors funny and witty remarks.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at a branch of paleontology that is often overlooked by the lay reader. The author's writing style is sort of a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but I enjoyed the time that I spent reading this one.
Booknerd Fraser
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting subject, but a few too many dumb jokes.
Lora Offord
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I learned some interesting things about dinosaurs!! A little dry with the scientific stuff at times, but lots of interesting stories and jokes spiced things up.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
My intro to ichnology! I enjoyed this book as a light read, and particularly enjoyed the wonderful word selection in the poop section.
Susan Paxton
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: paleontology
Although there are a number of good books on dinosaur tracks, this is the first one I've seen that covers all sorts of trace fossils. It has the benefit of being extremely up to date, and includes the first popularly published information on dinosaur burrows (yes, there's good evidence now that some dinosaurs lived in burrows!). Also, although many recent dinosaur books focus on China, Martin has done a great deal of work in Australia and gives a great overview of the many fascinating discoverie ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: potentially-buy
Summed up by the last sentence: "Place your hand on a dinosaur track, and you connect with the breathing essence of its maker, leaving your own fingerprints on it: life traces intersecting through time." Inspiring as that quote, but also incredibly funny, awe inspiring, and just plain fun to read! As a child of the 80s who was only averagely interested in dinosaurs, I had a lot of catching up to do to understand the terms, types and names of dinosaurs discussed here. But I know that if I had rea ...more
Eric Ruark
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once upon a time I thought I might want to be a paleontologist. This is exactly the kind of book that fed that fantasy/desire. Anthony Martin has a wonderfully quirky sense of humor that makes this book a dream to read. Not only that, but his witty style and simply the way he puts words together make what might seem a dry topic full of life. This book explores the world of ichnology, the study of traces and trace fossils... things like tracks, trails, burrows, nests, tooth marks and other vestig ...more
Mike Tuholski
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I listened to Martin's interviews on both Palaeocast and I Know Dino and he was entertaining and interesting enough that I decided to pick up his book and I was not disappointed. Martin carries his entertaining and captivating style into his writing and along the way I really learned quite a bit about trace fossils and it certainly gave me a different perspective in paleontology and the importance of trace fossils.
J.S. Green
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dinosaurs
Dinosaurs didn't just leave their bones behind. They also left footprints and in some cases skin impressions. They left toothmarks, eggshells, gastroliths (stomach stones), and even poop. And sometimes we can learn more about how they lived from these "trace fossils" than we can from the bones themselves.

Mr. Martin gives a rather extensive overview of what we know of dinosaurs based upon trace fossils, and does so with a sense of humor. Very interesting book.
It's obvious that the author is very passionate about the subject of dinosaurs and that he has done a lot of research and has a ton of knowledge about them. Honestly, for someone who has always been fascinated by these great lizards, it's a good experience to read the book. However, I do wish that some pictures of the less known dinosaurs would have been in the book because I had trouble picturing them in my mind.

I won this from goodreads firstreads
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fine and fun read on understanding the science teasing out dinosaur behavior, the ecosystems in which dinosaurs lived (and which shaped and were shaped by dinosaurs), and the questions and curiosity required to do this work. As an example of how fun and how fine the thinking is a late third of a chapter dedicated to the question of dinosaur flatulence and its relationship to climate change.
Corinna Bechko
Fun, informative, and very involving. Martin brought up topics I had never really considered before, like the way the biggest sauropods may have influenced the course of ancient waterways. If you are even the tiniest bit interested in how animals interact with their environment and how we can interpret those interactions even millions of years later, read this book.
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