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Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Reptiles of California Hardcover – August, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Printing edition (August 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520233158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520233157
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

California has produced a rich trove of Mesozoic fossils: dinosaurs, flying reptiles, and especially, since most of the state was submerged under water during the Mesozoic Era, marine reptiles. Hilton, a professor of geology at California's Sierra College, presents a comprehensive guide to these remains, and a history of those who discovered them, going back to the 1890s. (One of the highlights is his account of Allan Bennison's discovery of the vertebrae and leg bones of a hadrosaur in 1936, when Bennison was only 17 years old.) Hilton explains the role of California's active geology (many fossils are exposed by earthquakes) and dinosaur taxonomy as an introduction. Then, he discusses each species of dinosaur and reptile: how and where it lived, and its physical characteristics. These explanations are beautifully illustrated by Kirkland, who provides detailed drawings of skulls and entire skeletons, as well as imaginative reconstructions of how dinosaurs may have appeared when they walked the earth. This handsome volume will delight any dinosaurophile. 97 color illus., 102 b&w photos, 91 line illus., 1 table.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Other books describe the same types of dinosaurs and reptiles, but this one is unique in creating a complete picture of the Mesozoic era in California. The writing style is suitable for lay readers, but fossil descriptions and inventory make the work a valuable academic reference. Recommended for academic libraries, large public libraries with extensive paleontology collections, and California libraries."--Library Journal -- Review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on July 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was gonna say "what boy doesn't love dinosaurs" but I caught myself, preempting all accusations of sexism. Actually I knew a five-year-old girl once, Tara by name, who could read upside-down and do long division and who had more dinosaur lore in her charming head than I have in mine, even after a lifetime of reading Horner and the other dino-gurus. It's #2 on my 'bucket list' to spend a season as a flunky at a dig in Argentina.

I wasn't a California kid at kid age, but I've become one now, and this book was targeted at me. The first half of it describes the Mesozoic fossils found in California, Nevada, and Baja California, not only of dinosaurs per se but also of marine reptiles - ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, etc. - as well as flying reptiles and turtles. The text decribes precisely what was found, where, and in what condition; it makes no huge leaps of speculation about the life histories of the species represented, though it does clarify what can be known with certitude from the fossils. Some readers will find this approach very dry. I appreciated its sound science.

California was largely under water in the Mesozoic era, so the large land species of dinosaurs represented by fossils almost certainly were washed to sea in rivers or floods after death. As one would expect, these fossils are extremely fragmentary. Those that can be identified with fossils found more intact elsewhere are more amply described. The best fossils from the area are of marine reptiles. The Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada displays an almost complete Shonisaurus about the size of a small whale; it's really, really worth the long, lonely drive to visit!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Reptiles of California written by Richard P. Hilton is about the Mesozoic reptile fossil discoveries made in California during the last hundred-plus years. It describes the fossils and what they tell us about the animals they were a part of, and it chronicles the efforts of those who made the discoveries. Although emphasis is on dinosaurs, all the reptile groups for which we have evidence are covered. Northern Baja California has yielded numerous fossil remains of dinosaurs that must have roamed in what is now the state of California, these discoveries are included as well.
The book is divided into two parts. In part 1, the first chapter describes the long reach of time durning which the wonderful reptiles of the Mesozoic era evolved as well as the tectonic and ecological settings in which these animals lived. Chapters 2 through 4 paint a written and visual picture of every Mesozoic reptile that has been found and identified from the Californias. The dinosaurs, which so capture the imagination, come first. These range from the herbivorous hadrosaurs, ankylosaurs, and hypsilophodonts to carivores such as the tyrannsaurids and ornithomimids. In chapters 3 and 4 we meet a cavalcade of other exciting reptilian creatures: The winged pterosaurs and the flying dinosaurs that today we call birds, and the fishlike ichthyosaurs, together with other marine reptiles such as thalattosaurs, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and turtles.
The last two chapters of the volume make up part 2. Here the human side of the Mesozoic reptile paleontology in California is chronicled.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D Charles Dailey on November 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable combination of the stories of the people who made the discoveries and prepared the specimens and what these ancient reptiles and birds tell us about the western edge of North America during the biggest half of the Mesozoic. If you like the process of discovery you will love it. If you like to hear about the people who made part of scientific history you will love it. If you just like dinosaurs and their contemporaries you will still like it.
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're interested in dinosaur systematics and how one digs up a fossil in California, then you'll probably think this book is just fine. If, however, you are interested in learning about dinosaur evolution, behavior, ecological roles, trends, etc, don't bother with this book. One has to strain to pick out any interesting information.


Who are these top 500 reviewers that write ridiculously glowing reviews for mediocre books? I don't think I've ever seen one give less than five stars. I wouldn't be surprised if they're getting paid for all their wonderful advertising.
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