Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Beloved Brontosaurus

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." — C. S. Lewis

Like most kids - or boys, at least - I was in love with dinosaurs.  My favorite was Triceratops.  I remember visiting the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument and the Vernal museum when I was a kid.  When I had sons of my own I went back to Vernal so they could see it (which resulted in my oldest wanting to be a paleontologist until he was around 12).  I drew numerous pictures of them (some of which I still have, and yeah, they're pretty bad) and the stuffed animal I slept with (until I got sick one night and threw up on him) was a little blue Brontosaurus (my mom tried to wash him, but he was never the same).  I even remember avoiding commercials for "Jurassic Park" before it came out because I didn't want to ruin the movie - then Jamie and I went on opening night.

As an adult (or a close approximation of one) I no longer spend my time doodling dinosaurs or wondering where I can find a fossil, but I still find them interesting.  Keeping up with the science and discoveries, however, is a bit beyond my reach.  That's where My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek was a nice read.  He's obsessive and writes about them in a way that is easily understood.  And he covers a lot of topics, such as did they really have feathers, what color were they, and what did they sound like, as well as what happened to Brontosaurus?  (The bones that were described as "Brontosaurus" had previously been described as "Apatasaurus.")  And he explains very clearly why it's so hard to assemble a skeleton, because dinosaur skeletons are rarely found intact; once the animal died, it was usually scavenged and eaten by others.  

The writing is clear and understandable, and while there's a little bit of travelogue in it, it's entertaining and not overdone.  This is, however, a book for grownups.  It's not written anywhere near a childs level (and pictures are minimal) and has occasional profanities, plus he covers... umm, theories of how dinosaurs mated.  So, this isn't the kind of book you'll want to purchase for a 7 year, but if you're still interested enough (like me) to read a relatively short and easily understood book, you might want to buy it for yourself.

When I was about 5 years old with the book I got from the Dinosaur quarry (I couldn't find the picture with Grandma in front of the Stegosaurus statue).
Braiden and Taylor *not climbing* on the quarry wall.

I'm not sure where this was, but it was a Triceratops, so...

1 comment:

  1. I think that last picture was at the park across the parking lot from the motel we stayed in that trip. I was pregnant with Kate.