- 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt 1st Edition
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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.
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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.
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. His narrative is fast-paced and full of memorable detail--depictions of Bahariya, with its 130-degree heat and its scorpions, the excitement of the young researchers as they uncover new fossils, and their puzzlement at the paradoxes which unfold. With likeable researchers, and photos and drawings which make their discoveries come alive, this is a wonderful introduction to the challenges of on-site research, the scientific methods of the crew, and the respect with which they regard the past. Ultimately, even the almost-forgotten Ernst Stromer shares in their discoveries. Mary Whipple
Nothdurft gives us intertwining stories. Josh Smith and fellow graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania head to the Egyptian desert in 1999 to look for fresh evidence of Spinosaurus, a finned dinosaur first uncovered in the Bahariya Oasis by German scientist Ernst Stromer in 1916. Stromer's collection of Spinosaurus bones, displayed in a Munich museum, was demolished in a 1944 Allied bombing raid. In alternating chapters the reader follows both Ernst Stromer and Josh Smith to a remote hot location with days-long brutal sandstorms (p118) and a good deal of governmental red tape.
Life for these field paleontologists consist of long hot days examining "float" and chipping rock. That's the price for the highlights: discovering one of Stromer's sites (p126) and two Aha moments in the discovery of the large humerus (p166). Jen Smith describes the emotional aspect of the dig. "It's hard to watch these dinosaur guys ... they fine something and it's the greatest thing ever. Then, by the end of the day, it stinks, it's worthless. They go up and down, up and down like they're on a roller coaster. I'm glad I'm a geologist. From one day to the next, the rocks are still just the rocks, telling you stories." p137
"There is nothing inherently interesting about a rock," Nothdurft says on page 151. He then proceeds to give a grand description of rocks, sedimentary layers, tectonic plates, methods of looking and the earth and tools of geologists. Cone-shaped Gebel el Dist has as much character as any human in the story.
How is a fluvial geologist like Sherlock Holmes? "When you have eliminated what cannot be, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, is what must be." (p161). Ninety-one million years ago the deserts of western Egypt looked like the Florida Everglades! The many delightful side stories in the book include the red flags (p120), Stromer's Nazi era political struggles (p114), and the basic problem of dinosaur coexistence with humans (p38).
Translating ancient clues into current visions is a whole other matter. These sauropods had long necks to reach laterally rather than vertically so they would not have to move their 70 ton bodies while eating 2000 pounds of angiosperms per day. The riddle of Stromer's three giant carnivorous dinosaurs is resolved just pages from the end (p193). Many of us readers did not know that we were solving a riddle, but it all hangs together in a very satisfying way.