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Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1605984995
ISBN-10: 160598499X
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Magnificent full dinosaur skeletons like Sue, the T. Rex specimen currently housed in Chicago’s Field Museum, have been invaluable to paleontologists in discovering how these reptilian behemoths moved and behaved many millions of years ago. Yet many dinosaur buffs may be surprised to learn just how little current information about these creatures is discovered in their bones. Instead much is learned via the little known field of ichnology, a branch of geology that studies animal burrows, tracks, trails, and feces. As veteran ichnologist Martin explains in this thorough overview of the CSI-like scientific discipline, particularly as it overlaps with paleontology, an astonishing number of features about dinosaur habits, diet, and even migration patterns can be gleaned from abundant “trace” fossils. Some recent, eye-opening discoveries include certain species’ penchant for building nests and, improbably, taking regular swims in rivers and lakes. Martin’s rigorous descriptions of his profession’s painstaking research techniques will probably not endear his work to mainstream audiences but paleontology and forensic science enthusiasts will undoubtedly find it fascinating. --Carl Hays

Review

“An evangelistic tour de force articulating the importance of trace fossils for understanding how dinosaurs truly lived and behaved. The author writes in lively prose and aims the work at general readers. This is easily the best book on dinosaur trace fossils on the market.” (Choice)

“An enjoyable and stimulating read for both the dinosaur fan and expert alike that highlights the extensive and largely unrecognized role ichnology has played in revealing dinosaur behavior and ecology, and the impact dinosaurs may have had on past and modern ecosystems.  Anthony Martin uses his extensive experience to provide an amusing, thorough, and provocative review of dinosaur trace fossils, from tacks and burrows all the wya through regurgitates and coprolites.” (David Varricchio, Associate Professor of Paleontology, Montana State University)

Martin’s popular, non-academic debut bubbles over with the joy of scientific discovery as he shares his natural enthusiasm for the blend of sleuthing and imagination that he brings to the field of ichnology―the study of trace fossils and features left by organismal behavior, such as tracks, nests, and burrows. The energy behind Martin’s “what if” saurian life scenarios is no mere distraction; his science is solid and his descriptions of the current state of classification and knowledge are clear, up to date, and detailed. The books is great fun for anyone looking to revive their childhood dinosaur obsessions.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

“People are amazed what paleontology can deduce from bones―Anthony shows what can be learned with a simple trace in the sand.  No other book in recent years expresses the joy of employing the scientific method to reveal the ancient world.” (James Kirkland, Utah State Paleontologist)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (March 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160598499X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605984995
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Wineberg TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It’s sometimes difficult to tell whether Dinosaurs Without Bones is about dinosaurs or about paleontologists. Both turn out to be fascinating, and one of them can still be seen in the field today (Jurassic Park notwithstanding). The stated theme of the book is dinosaurs beyond mere bones. That is, every shred of evidence, from footprints to bathtub-like constructs that indicate where a dinosaur “took a leak” all add to our collective knowledge of how flesh and blood dinosaurs lived.

But from that (scant) knowledge, flights of fantasy emerge. Paleontologists aren’t mere scientists; they are fantasists, dreaming up scenarios if not whole novels about what their stony discoveries mean. To be sure, they have their lists of reality checks, if only to weather potential criticisms better, but their imaginations are where they really show off. And Dinosaurs Without Bones flies freely, leveraging every bodily function that fossil traces afford us. Every bodily function.

Paleontologists need to be expert in an incredible range of fields. They need to understand everything from digestion to physics. They need to know that a T-rex could not possibly run around at 45 mph as in the movies, because if it ever slipped or tripped, its massive weight and height would most surely have killed it in its fall, which is not a very effective evolutionary trait or strategy. The book is filled with such observations. It makes for a potentially realistic vision of what actually took place on planet earth 200 mya (million years ago, a lovely abbreviation used throughout).

There is a great deal of data on birds - modern birds – which for Martin represent the living embodiment of dinosaurs. His appreciation of them dominates the last quarter of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Ichnology is the study of trace fossils (footprints, tooth marks, burrows, etc.) The most interesting thing about trace fossils is that they record the behavior of a living anima, as opposed to body fossils which tell you everything about anatomy, but are effectively mute about behavior. Also, trace fossils can be very abundant; an animal only has so many bones, but can leave thousands of tracks in a lifetime. As you probably know, there are a number of frustrations connected with linking the two types of fossil: The formations that preserved footprints, for instance, are seldom the same formations that preserve bones. Also, although one can with some confidence assign which broad type of animal made which trace fossil, narrowing it down to a specific genus is sometimes impossible. Therefore one needs to have a separate system of nomenclature, with "ichnospecies" (types of traces) and "real" species, with no absolute way of linking the two.

As with any field in paleontology, popular books on ichnology concentrate on dinosaurs. In the 1990's most books about dinosaur trace fossils were by Martin Lockley: "Tracking Dinosaurs" (1991), "Dinosaur Tracks and Traces" (1991), "The Eternal Trail" (1999), etc. After a two decade gap in popular books on ichnology, I was pleased to see a new book "Dinosaurs Without Bones" by Anthony J. Martin. Martin is a paleontologist at Emory University who specializes in trace fossils, with emphasis on the Southern Hemisphere.

The chapter headings are:
1. Sleuthing Dinosaurs
2. These Feet Were Made for Walking, Running, Sitting, Swimming, Herding, and Hunting
3.The Mystery of Lark Quarry
4. Dinosaur Nests and Bringing Up Babies
5. Dinosaurs Down Underground
6.
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Format: Kindle Edition
We bought this book after hearing Dr. Martin speak at our local science museum. The book is easy to read, informative and fun! It's a great way to learn about fossil traces and history. I highly recommend it for all ages!
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Martin is definitely a palaeontologist and ichnologist with a great sense of humour. I had to keep reading bits to my husband when I'd come across some particularly funny piece. Sometimes it was a pun, sometimes a weird description. Not too many English teachers I know could deal with the science he describes, but he has a definite turn of phrase with English - "These nests and their egg clutches inspire yet another question, which is how sauropod mothers laid their eggs without occasioning onomatopoeia such as 'crunch' and 'splat'." This ability to raise interesting questions, make you think about them, and give great explanations and descriptions that tie back to experiences the non-scientist would identify with is something I try to do in my own science teaching, but probably nowhere near as well as Dr. Martin manages to do.

Aside from the sheer pleasure of reading such an enjoyable book, the information contained is up to date, barring the latest PLOS ONE article just published on "A Terror of Tyrannosaurs". However, having read that just published article as I was starting the book, the book certainly was invaluable in helping understand how the authors of the article made their measurements and came to their conclusions, and made me think of what questions I might want answered about the tracks. The book also had quite a few sites I hadn't known about, and excellent explanations of what could be deduced from the types of trace fossils. Best yet, it gave a real feel for the excitement, and the actual reasoning and questioning that go with good science, the problems of publishing, and the antagonisms that sometimes go with differing theories, such as the 'T rex as scavenger vs T rex as active hunter' camps.
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