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The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt Hardcover – September 24, 2002

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From Publishers Weekly

Between 1910 and 1914, Ernst Stromer, a little-known German paleontologist and explorer, unearthed a wealth of dinosaur fossils in Egypt's Bahariya Oasis. Thirty years later, Stromer's discoveries were destroyed in a WWII Allied bombing raid, and the oasis lay neglected for decades until Josh Smith, a Penn State doctoral candidate in paleontology, decided to retrace Stromer's footsteps in 1999. Based on Stromer's detailed but rather dry journal entries and vivid, often humorous, testimonies from Smith and his research team, this lucid account highlights Stromer's discoveries (which include, among others, the bones of three predatory dinosaurs) and chronicles recent findings by Smith and his colleagues that set the science world buzzing. When Smith's entourage arrived in Bahariya after months of negotiating with MPH Entertainment, their primary financial supporter, and Egyptian officials, they were amazed to find fossils literally "floating" on the dry, sand-packed surface. Weeks later, the team uncovered its landmark find a 67-inch humerus, or upper arm bone, belonging to a new genus of dinosaur, which measured an impressive 80 to 100 feet in length and weighed between 65 and 70 tons. This discovery was compounded by the newsworthy conclusion made by field geologist Ken Lacovara that millions of years ago Egypt's western desert looked much like Florida's Everglades do now. Nothdurft, coauthor of the Ghosts of Everest, gracefully interweaves the team's exploits with Stromer's own Bahariya experiences and provides just enough scientific background to keep lay readers afloat. An engaging mix of history and desert drama, this Indiana Jones-type adventure is first-rate popular science.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a great story: grad student Smith joins a team of scientists, led by renowned paleontologist Peter Dodson, that tracks Ernst Stromer's momentous 1911 expedition to the Bahariya Oasis. There they find a new dinosaur called Paralititan stromeri.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (September 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507953
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Reissner on January 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt" is the fascinating account of the rediscovery of the work of a German paleontologist in Egypt. Just prior to First World War, Ernst Stromer, a Bavarian aristocrat, made a remarkable discovery in a particularly inhospitable region of Egypt: the fossil remains of three different huge carnivorous dinosaurs. Painstakingly reassembled in Munich, they were destroyed in an Allied bombing raid in 1944. In 2000, a group of young American scientists returned to the area where Stromer had worked, unvisited by paleontologists in the intervening nine decades, and there discovered bones of what is believed to be the second-largest dinosaur ever, an 80 ton plant-eating behemoth.
The book juxtaposes these two stories in an entertaining and informative way. Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach of Nuremberg arrived in Egypt and headed off to his dig with four boxes of water, a handful of camels, a Bohemian assistant who was not feeling very well but knew about collecting bones, an Egyptian in charge of the camels and their drivers and a cook. Stromer was looking for evidence of early mammals but instead stumbled onto an unknown and important dinosaur graveyard. He was correct and precise and meticulous and quite brilliant. With his little band he made amazing discoveries but the coming war overshadowed everything. The Bohemian assistant died and the cases of fossils, damaged by inept handling, did not reach the now-impoverished Stromer until 1922. For the next twelve years he wrote up wonderful monographs on his Egyptian dinosaurs. One of them, Spinosaurus, looked like a giant T-Rex with a sail on its back. But only the monographs survived the bombing raid. Stromer was a respected man of science but did not suffer fools.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is absolutely great reading. What it makes the book very interesting is the dual story. There is always a very good alternation of passages which describe Ernst Stromers expedition in 1912-14 to the Baharia Oasis (Egypt) on the one hand and the recent expedition of Josh Smith on the other hand.
Apart from this it is told a piece of paleontology which has been nearly "forgotten" although Baharia has been the origin of very unique predatory dinosaur species. In the years of 1912-14 Stromer excavated bones of three big theropods: Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus and Bahariyasaurus. As a continuation of this story which has been sleeping for so many years we get to know how Josh Smiths team has solved the riddle Stromer left: the discovery of a huge plant-eating new dinosaur species: Paralititan. For everybody who is interested in an entertaining story on straight field paleontology I can recommend this book.
The book additionally contains 2 very fine passages with b/w photos. The first one shows photos and the well known monographs from Stromer while the second one shows impressions from Josh Smiths expedition. The second passage also contains two very fine life restorations and skeletal reconstructions of Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus as well as of the new discovered Paralititan.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you pick up a copy of _The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt_ (Random House), you will find, quite appropriately, that it bears a photograph of a desert setting on which a skeletal outline of a dinosaur is superimposed. But if you open it up and start reading, there seems as if there is something wrong: "Wing Commander G. Leonard Cheshire arrived at the Royal Air Force's aerodrome at Woodhall Spa on the morning of April 24, 1944 ..." It is a surprising start to an amazing story, written by William Nothdurft, with a co-author credit to Josh Smith, the leader of the most recent expedition to find the Egyptian dinosaurs. That expedition repeated the hunt in the area in 1911 by Ernst Stromer, a German physician who had caught the paleontology bug. Throughout the book, Stromer's story is interwoven with Smith's, in a narrative that is more exciting than that about fossil hunting has any right to be.
Stromer's makeshift expedition was heroic. He traveled to the Bahariya Oasis in the Saharan desert, specifically looking for fossils of ancient mammals, and was unprepared to send back the monstrous bone specimens he found. He got back to Munich, but it was only after years of delay (the Great War didn't help) that he got all his specimens. Eventually, as a result of British bombing raids in 1944, and because no one would heed his warnings that his fossils needed special protection, the specimens were lost when their museum was bombed. No paleontologists returned to the uninviting Bahariya for decades, until Josh Smith, a graduate student, got the idea of going. The book has an excellent account of the trip, the politicking for funds, the dangers of the field, and the excitement of making a scientific difference.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on September 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The search for dinosaur fossils amid sandstorms and desert heat is anything but dry in this lively story of the excavation in January, 2000, of a site in the western Egyptian desert, partially excavated by Ernst Stromer in 1911, but untouched since then. Nothdurft, a professional writer, working in concert with Josh Smith, the young paleontologist who was the team leader of the January, 2000, dig, tells the stories of both the 1911 and the 2000 excavations, along with the fossil discoveries made by each group.

Stromer, a German aristocrat and meticulous paleontologist, found the fossils of four unique, 95-million-year-old dinosaurs in Bahariya in 1911, spent twenty years analyzing them, and then supervised the fossils' installation at the Bavarian State College of Paleontology and Historical Geology in Munich. In April, 1944, everything was lost in the allied bombing of Munich. The story of Stromer's efforts, now almost forgotten, alternates with that of Smith and his group of young Ph.D's from the University of Pennsylvania, who hope to find additional fossils in the same area in January, 2000.

Financed by a Los Angeles film company making a documentary, the crew ultimately unearths a 80 - 100 ton new dinosaur species, discovering in the process that at least two other equally gigantic dinosaur species shared space with this titan. How this desert area could support three such huge species becomes the question for the geologists on the trip, a mystery which Nothdurft imbues with immediacy and great excitement as they examine the confusing strata for clues.

Nothdurft excels in characterizing the paleontologists and geologists so that the reader can easily imagine participating in the dig along with them.
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