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Why Dinosaurs Matter

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  569 ratings  ·  114 reviews
What can long-dead dinosaurs teach us about our future? Plenty, according to paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, who has discovered some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth.

By tapping into the ubiquitous wonder that dinosaurs inspire, Lacovara weaves together the stories of our geological awakening, of humanity’s epic struggle to understand the nature of deep time
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Simon Schuster/ TED
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Eliot Peper
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara is a concise, pithy, and compulsively readable manifesto about the coolest creatures ever to walk the Earth and what they teach us about life, the universe, and everything. Lacovara is a renowned paleontologist who's unearthed some of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered and his enthusiasm for his subjects is as contagious as it is awe-inspiring. This book is candy for your curiosity and will ignite your sense of wonder.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
I'm definitely a bit disappointed by this. I came into it expecting to learn why dinosaurs mattered to the world, but I left without a real answer. The chapter on Lacovara's uncovering the Dreadnoughtus was fascinating, and I would've happily read more stories from his field work and research, but ultimately, the book neither dug deep enough to teach me anything really new about dinosaurs, nor was it personal enough to feel like an account of life stories, nor did it adequately answer the titula ...more
Peter Tillman
I'm giving up on this one early on. It's a little book by a recognized expert, and cute grafix.... BUT. The book opens with an extended rant on why the author REALLY doesn't like calling old/dead things "dinosaurs." Is Albert Einstein a Dinosaur?, the author asks (at length), and I know I'm in trouble.

Basically, I'm not learning anything, and a quick skim convinces me that's not likely to change. I like short, punchy books. This looks to be a short, soggy one. A quick scan of other 1 and 2-star
Brice Fuqua
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dinosaurs did not become extinct 65 million years ago. They are still around today. No, there is not a herd of Triceratops grazing in a remote Himalayan valley, nor are there Velociraptors hidden away in a top-secret government base. Dinosaurs are probably in your back yard, perching in tree branch. Birds are modern-day dinosaurs.
Such is the claim made by paleontologist, Kenneth Lacovara in his book, Why Dinosaurs Matter. And he is in a position to know. Lacovara is best known for discovering
Daniel Gonçalves
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice long-form essay on paleontology history and background providing satisfying knowledge about Dionasours - their characteristics, their origins and their demise.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Why Dinosaurs Matter is an immensely readable book. Dr. Kenneth Lacovara writes in an engaging, conversational style that holds your interest from the first sentence ("Albert Einstein was a complete and utter failure." - what???) to the last ("Maybe we can be like the dinosaurs... the adaptable champions of an era.").

While he defends dinosaurs as "champions of [their] era," his main point is that we can learn from them. His explanation of the slow "discovery" of deep time and evolution is fascin
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 19th September 2017

The idea of this book is pretty much encapsulated in the words from the summary: “What can long-dead dinosaurs teach us about our future? Plenty.” It’s the story of the dinosaurs as a highly successfully set of creatures who ruled the world — for a time. It’s also the story of their decline and fall, so to speak, and the lessons we can learn from them. Also, a reminder that a penguin is very literally a dinosaur, just as we’re
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars

I don't know what it was about this book, but I really didn't like it especially the beginning part of the book. I can't believe I made it past the first couple of chapters to be honest. I don't know what it is exactly, but I really didn't like the tone or the way the author's voice came out on paper. It got a little better towards the end of the book.

I also listened to the audiobook version and I recommend NOT doing that. I really disliked the narrator of the book I don't know what
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have no words to describe how much I loved this <3 It was simple and to the point and really inspiring! Lacovara, you now have a place on my list of heroes. Thank you for your amazing work and thank you for making me feel like a fortunate warrior for living in the blue dot. ...more
Dinosaurs are important, y'all.

Why Dinosaurs Matter isn't so much a book about why dinosaurs matter. Instead, it is a history of the biodiversity of dinosaurs, all of the new discoveries within the field, and how dinosaurs were a far more varied and successful species than we often give them credit for being. As for why they matter, ultimately Kenneth Lacovara contends that they matter for the insight they can give us into modern day ecological problems. Dinosaurs were a remarkably adaptable c
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley
I received an ARC e-book copy of this book from NetGalley to review.

Kenneth Lacovara’s book Why Dinosaurs Matter reads like a TED Talk, in that it’s highly engaging and equally fascinating. Through each chapter, Lacovara, a renowned paleontologist and discoverer of the Dreadnoughtus, takes us through the history of our planet, how it’s been viewed by scientists and scholars in our own human/primate era, how dinosaurs still exist today in their avian form, and highlights of our deep fascination
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The father of geology, James Hutton, observed that the past is the key to the future. Much like a modern-day Hutton, Dr. Ken Lacovara takes us on a journey to the ancient past when dinosaurs ruled the land to understand the valuable lessons their evolution and their almost complete extinction can teach about mitigating the Sixth Extinction toward which we are blindly hurtling. Dr. Lacovara writes with clarity, passion and humor to engage us in the exciting path geologists and paleontologists tra ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
What a great little book! Loved the discussion going on here with regards to how we view the world - and how old stereotypes and ways of thinking can really hang on and even prevent us from believing what we see right in front of us.

Lacovara's writing is really good - it flows together well, the insights aren't forced, there's a good bit of humor, and a lot of interesting anecdotes in addition to facts.

If you're looking for in-depth science, you won't find it here. This is simply an expansion
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars, with the second half being far better than the first. Most of the first half was spent disparaging creationists and the "young earth" theory (Why do so many science books feel the need to pit science and religion against each other?). When he finally got back to discussing actual dinosaurs, the facts he revealed about certain key species of interest made this book a fascinating snippet of insight. I could feel his excitement as he moved through his discovery of Dreadnoughtus, and his ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like all TED Books, Why Dinosaurs Matter is meant to be read quickly while also being packed full of information. Dinosaurs have always fascinated people and this book takes you on a brief tour of some dinosaurs, including Dreadnoughtus which was discovered by the author. It details what happened after the meteor hit in the Gulf of Mexico and then relates why learning about dinosaurs, and what happened to them, is important to us now. I recommend this book to anyone interested in dinosaurs.
Iain Knights
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for dino enthusiasts.

Really insightful read in to the lives of the dinosaurs with really interesting information which was new to me. Not only that, but also a great insight in to the development of the knowledge of human beings.

Really concisely written with a fun sense of humour throughout whilst keeping on topic, which illustrates how our understanding of the Earth’s former rulers can benefit us in understanding our future. Very current and topical.
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
For a book that purports to be about why dinosaurs matters, there's amazingly little - read: pretty much non-existent - analysis of how studying dinosaurs would be helpful and/or relevant to subjects of modern interest. One can definitely tell that the author is enthusiastic about this topic and loves his field, but this would be be better billed as a book about basic dinosaur history for middle or high schoolers.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
I really enjoyed this look at the history of dinosaurs, our relationship to them, and why they matter.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara is a book about dinosaurs. Lots of dinosaurs. I listened to the audio book read by the author. Lacovara is excited about dinosaurs. A disciple of Darwin, Lacovara spends the entire book trying to convince the reader, or in my case the listener, why dinosaurs matter. And in the end, I learned a lot about dinosaurs, but very little about why they matter.
Laura Lamkin
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I loved it so much I read it twice. Sure, I was a dinosaur fan as a kid, and it appealed right away to the dino-loving little boy within. But I have also read a whole lot of science as an adult. I did not expect to get anything new out of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I learned many new things, details and facts for sure, but also broader, more conceptual points. The author uses geologic and paleontological data and science, interesting in and of itself, to introd ...more
Donato Colangelo
The title is misleading. I bought the book expecting a satisfactory digression about this fashinating and undoubtedly important question, but unfortunately I found little of the sort. The central part of the book deals with the story of paleontology and the paradigm shift concerning the age of the Earth and the nature of fossils. Then the author describes, in an exciting chapter, the discovery of Dreadnoughtus. In all of this pile of information, though, the concept of the importance of dinosaur ...more
Rajan S
Good attempt to connect 250 million years of evolution to extinction of Dinosaurs with possible 6th extinction caused by reckless act of humans. Metaphorically, humans are the asteroid, we see it coming and can do something about it is what the author drives at in last chapter. Geological literacy combined with philosophical metaphors to finding and naming the giant 'dreadnought'. Author has represented the asteroid hit event in a cinematic way is appreciable.
Penguins are descendants of dinosau
Guy Winch
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Why Dinosaurs Matter Ken Lacovara's new book, 'Why Dinosaurs Matter' had me at the opening line:"Albert Einstein was a complete and utter failure." This fascinating book will give you a new way to think about dinosaurs and an appreciation of why they are very much relevant to our lives today. Anyone who loves science and stories of discovery will be thoroughly entertained by the wonderful behind-the-scenes insights and beautiful prose. I absolutely loved it. ...more
Alex Yard
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, which can be found on

In essence, this book is not all that worth your time. Some interesting factoids, but it sort of reads like some online science articles. Some of the more fascinating moments involve deep time, age of the earth in general and evolutionary processes that aren't specific to dinosaurs, which made the focus feel unfocused.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed, science
How can a book about dinosaurs be this bad?

Instead of writing a lengthy review, I will give the book an appropriate subtitle as if it was written a hundred years ago...Why Dinosaurs Matter: A Story of the Lack of Intelligence of Ancient Humanity (and Current Religious Persons) for Not Understanding the True Age of the Earth; With a Climax to Remind the Reader of the Utter Meaningless and Eventual End to Life on Earth.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not a fit for me. From the title I thought this would be recent up-to-date new science.
It turned out to be an introduction to paleontology for Junior High School level intellects, and I happen to have a PhD in the subject area.
So I only read a small part of the book before abandoning it.
Note that this is a very good book for Junior High School students
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book! Saw it in the library and grabbed it without knowing much about it. Surprisingly fun read that taught me a lot about dinosaurs and evolution etc. The author really explains big ideas like deep time in accessible ways and opened my eyes to the timeline of earth’s history in new ways.
Nathan Albright
May 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: challenge-2019
This is the sort of book that delivers more or less what I expected from it, which is to say that while the book certainly did not meet my own standards for excellence or demonstrate either a correct view of science or a restrained view of defective climate models, and it manages to show an arrogant tendency to display evolutionary cladistic just-so stories as well as fairly stereotypical climate change fearmongering.  For many readers, this is a book that they will wholeheartedly enjoy.  For me ...more
Brenten Gilbert
RATING 2.8 STARS + 1 pinprick of a meteorite.

This is another TED book, or TED TALK Book, or whatever the proper phrasing. The premise is awesome: don't discount the dinosaurs because we have a lot to learn about them.

Unfortunately, Lacovara - who spends his life digging for fossils - barely scratches the surface on that topic, but instead takes every opportunity to explain his justification for a billions-year-old earth and evolution and all that jazz that makes Ken Ham break out in hives of ind
Costin Manda
Feb 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
We are all racists. We belittle dinosaurs for getting extinct, we pump our chests and declare we are the highest pinnacle of evolution and they are inferior, failed experiments of nature, we, mammals, are clearly the superior product. Yet they existed and flourished and ruled every ecosystem on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. Even today the number of species of birds, the direct ancestors of dinosaurs, is more than double the number of species of mammals. Kenneth Lacovara starts his boo ...more
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