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Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life Paperback – June 28, 2011

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Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life + Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History + The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs (Princeton Field Guides)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520269896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520269897
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If one day you saw a Torvosaurus looking through your second-story window, would it be able to live on the vegetation it found? Dinosaurs, paleontologist Sampson stresses throughout this book, were part of a complex ecosystem, and to understand these beasts, we must also understand the plants and other animals they shared it with, along with factors such as the position of the continents and climate change. Sampson's sprawling study is one of the most comprehensive surveys of dinosaurs and their worlds to date. The author discusses in detail plant life during different dinosaur eras (e.g., there were no flowering plants) and even what insects would have scurried beneath them. Who knew that fossilized fecal matter hid so many clues to a dinosaur's dinner millions of years ago? Sampson addresses the ever popular subject of dinosaur extinctions and develops a comprehensive theory encompassing various dinosaur generations. Highly recommended for all dinosaur fans, although the writing may prove a bit too scholarly for younger buffs. Color and b&w illus., b&w photos. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A wonderful book, crammed with information that will surprise you.”
(Truthdig 2009-12-11)

“This thought-provoking book is a must read not only for dinosaur enthusiasts and science educators but anyone interested in the larger context of life.”
(Magill's Literary Annual / Salem Press 2011-02-04)

“Sampson is right on target. . . . There is no better overview available than ‘Dinosaur Odyssey.’”
(Earth Magazine 2011-01-01)

“A great in-depth read for those seriously interested in the history of dinosaurs.”
(Dig 2011-06-20)

More About the Author

Scott Sampson is a Canadian dinosaur paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and educator who presently serves as Research Curator at the Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah. After receiving his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Toronto in 1993, he spent a year working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, followed by five years as assistant professor of anatomy at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine on Long Island. From 1999-2007, he held a dual position with the Utah Museum of Natural History and the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah, serving for the last several years of that period as chief curator and associate professor, respectively. His research has focused on the ecology and evolution of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, and he has conducted fieldwork in a number of countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. His current research efforts are focused on a large scale project in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, southern Utah, which has yielded abundant remains of a previously unknown assemblage of dinosaurs. Sampson has published numerous scientific and popular articles, and has lectured extensively to audiences of all ages on dinosaurs and evolution.

In 2007, Sampson moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California. In addition to continuing dinosaur research through the University of Utah, he is now pursuing a range of new projects focused on education. Sampson was the primary scientific consultant and on-air host of the four-part Discovery Channel series "Dinosaur Planet." Appearing as "Dr. Scott the Paleontologist," he is presently serving the same pair of roles for the PBS children's series "Dinosaur Train," produced by the Jim Henson Company. He is the author of, "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" (University of California Press, 2009), the first comprehensive review of dinosaur paleontology for a general audience in more than two decades. Sampson is now at work on another general audience book, this one about the art and science of connecting children with nature. For more information, go to: www.ScottSampson.net

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I have read more than 100 books on dinosaurs.
Reed J. Richmond
The writing style of this work is clear and at times almost like a textbook with various scientific concepts and terms highlighted in the text.
W. Andrew Terrill
Scott Sampson's engrossing book takes you on a journey back back to the Mesozoic for a close look at the Dinosaurs and the world they lived in.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Reed J. Richmond on January 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you have even a casual interest in dinosaurs, please get this book. I don't hesitate recommending it to anyone.
Get it for the information on dinosaurs. But you'll love it for the engaging text and the way you will feel part of Dr. Sampson's world. And once you are draw in, you'll be amazed at what else you might learn beyond the world of dinosaurs.
If you know just a little about dinosaurs, I'm sure you know who Dr. Scott Sampson is due to his commentary on dinosaur videos and now on the PBS tyke show "Dinosaur Train." I saw this book at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and then again at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. If those two institutions put it on their bookshelves, there might be something special about the book. The forward by Philip Currie praises the book: "looks not just at dinosaurs but also the at the myriad life-forms that shared their ecosystem, from bacteria to birds. This is done deliberately to show how life-forms interact to form complex, interdependent systems." And what an extraordinary job! Beyond pretty illustrations and art, Dr. Sampson is able to make the whole ecosystem of dinosaurs come to life. But what sends this book beyond the commonplace is the epilogue. If you are not getting the fact that Dr. Sampson is showing you that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the dinosaur's days are the same that are operating today, the epilogue will make it perfectly clear. Here, while talking about the "sixth great extinction event" (the one that we are currently experiencing), the author clearly states how we are part of the interdependent web of all existence. But beyond that, he shows how we need to revise our educational system and the teaching of science to bring awareness of that interconnectivity.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric Gross VINE VOICE on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like so many other young boys, I loved dinosaurs. My parents would get me books about their world and I would just stare, longingly, at the pictures. I dreamed that there was some obscure mountain valley, a Shangri-La, deep in the Himalayas or an island, far out in the Pacific, where the lived on. But alas, they are gone, like their far older trilobite cousins.
Scott Sampson's Dinosaur Odyssey brings this world back to life. This is a book for the very serious amateur dinosaur lover. I really enjoyed the author's love of complexity, for many of the most core issues about how dinosaurs lived are still mysteries. His discussions on the areas of dinosaur metabolism and evolution were particularly fascinating. Sampson does not take the easy road. Rather, he treats his readers with respect. The interplay of evolution and ecology is not always a simple one and Sampson takes the reader into these occasionally murky areas of research and conjecture in ways that are endlessly intriguing. These discussions became rather complex and I really enjoyed the challenge of fully understanding them. His writing style is both technical and passionate. His love for paleontology shines on every page. I found myself even a little jealous of the author, for so many years ago I considered becoming one myself as a geology minor as an undergraduate. After reading Dinosaur Odyssey, I suspect I made the wrong choice.
With all we seem to know about the world of dinosaurs, I now realize that so many of the key questions continue to be mysteries. What was it like to wander along a Cretaceous era river? How did the air smell (Sampson does make some inferences about this)? Did these giant beasts make lots of sounds? Was there constant terror in the air wondering just how close a Tyrannosaurus might be?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Price on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My daughter is a Dinosaur Train fanatic. It's a great show, and she has learned a lot, not only about dinosaurs, but about ecosystems and biology in general. On a recent trip to the Field Museum in Chicago to see the dinosaur fossils in person with her I found this book in the gift shop, with a sticker pointing out that it was by the Dr Scott from the show. Of course, I had to read it. It's a very good, up to date, summary of current thought on dinosaurs, by someone with great passion for the subject. It is very understandable even for someone without an extensive scientific background. And it does a good job of explaining why an understanding of the earth's biological past is still relevant today. My daughter isn't quite four, and this is definitely a book for grown ups, so it's not a book that I can share with her immediately, but I am getting a lot of joy out of sharing her interest in dinosaurs and this book answered a lot of the questions that the more pre school appropriate books had left in my mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin A. Lyman on May 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Dinosaur Odyssey" has so much great science in it! It is about yes, dinosaurs, but it is so much more! Ecosystems and how they work, from the smallest bacteria to the largest plants & animals. I am making it required reading for my Gifted & Talented Jr. High students . Dr. Sampson writes with an easy style that makes the science comprehensible to both scientists and the general reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really good book. The writing style is quite approachable. His treatment of everything is one of the few books that simplifies things for the layman without dumbing it down. He takes a comprehensive approach that shows how things tie together. I really enjoyed reading the book.
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