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    I love dinosaurs and I'll bet you do, too. They seem to be a subject of fascination for children of all ages. Perhaps it is because they are so remote from modern civilization, or because they are just plain cool to explore and investigate. This is one of the many books I bought when I was a member of a Book-of-the-Month Club back when I was in professional music and had the money but no time to read. Now I don't have money, but I make reading a priority to acquire knowledge, stimulate my brain, and to promote literacy. From the first look at the book upon opening it, I knew I would like it. It is filled with wonderful drawings, and since no artist/illustrator's name is supplied, I am thinking Dr. Bakker did his own illustrations. The text is just as enticing, written in a language we can all understand, and filled with interesting facts. The first couple paragraphs had me hooked.
    The text takes up 462 pages, plus reference materials and an index. It is divided into five main sections, each one comprised of four or five chapters. I will highlight materials from each section. By the way, Dr, Bakker wasn't some professor sitting in a library. He was an excavator, out there in the fields digging up the bones himself. The most difficult task in writing this review was deciding what information to include because it is all so interesting. Plus there is lots of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle!) humor included which always adds to the reading pleasure of science-based books.
    In the Preface, Bakker reminisces about how his interest in dinosaurs was kindled. It began with a cover story in Life Magazine, (and I well remember how much influence that great publication had in my childhood days). Add to that, the bi-annual trips to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Bakker, unlike most children, did not outgrow his obsession with dinosaurs. He published this book in 1986.
    So let us begin with Part 1: The Conquering Cold-bloods: A Conundrum.
    Chapter 1, Brontosaurus in the Great Hall at Yale. At 3:00 A.M., alone at Yale's Peabody Museum, Bakker suddenly realized there was something wrong with this picture, and began to question all the standard "orthodoxy" about dinosaurs he had been taught. He provides half a page of them, such as, "Dimwitted and unresponsive to change, the dinosaurs had ruled by bulk," and "Dinosaurs couldn't be warm-blooded because their brains were too small." And he writes, "And the final, ultimate failure of their character—dinosaurs couldn't cope with competition from the smaller, smarter, livelier mammals." That last point seemed to be not only a strong point of contention with Bakker, but a point of irritation. He was truly a dinosaur person, as opposed to those who studied dinosaurs but cheered for the mammals.
    I have to say, there were a lot of jaw-droppers and more than one "aha!" that hit me as I read. It was not because the information was so extraordinary, it was because it was completely ordinary and logical, but I had never thought about it before. Bakker was right—we do have these perceptions about dinosaurs, so we tend not, unless it is our field of study, to look at the big picture. My jaw first dropped as Bakker explained how some people think of dinosaurs as failures. I mean, they couldn't cope with whatever happened to kill them off, so they all died. BUT, they prospered on this planet for 130 million years!!! Oh my! I knew about the different dinosaur eras, but never really paid attention to the span of time. WELL! The human species has only been around about a hundred thousand years, and the way things are going now, it doesn't seem that it will be too much longer. AND SO, just who was more successful?? Bakker call them the "number one success story in the history of land life."
    Incidentally, Bakker has included helpful and humorous graphs throughout the book. The one on page 17 (see below) illustrates the different eras, with animals standing on the labels, sometimes chewing them or holding them in their mouths. The Age of Dinosaurs, when they ruled the earth is called the Mesozoic Era, from 248 to 65 million years ago. That is divided into the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods.
    He then continues with the argument that dinosaurs were more closely related to birds than reptiles, of which I was aware. The exception is crocodiles and alligators, because their teeth are set in sockets, as dinosaurs, whereas lizards and snakes have their teeth fused inside the jawbone. And so, were dinosaurs reptiles? Bakker is skeptical and no one has "built a persuasive case proving that dinosaurs as a whole were more like reptilian crocodiles than warm-blooded birds."
    Chapter 2, Wyoming Reverie: Meditation on the Geological Text, takes us to one of the richest areas in the U.S. of dinosaur fossils. It takes place at Como Bluff, Wyoming, and begins, "From my Field Book, 1981. July 3, 6:35 A.M." He says here he has been doing this for twenty years. On the second page of this chapter is a cool map he has drawn of the Midwestern states, from Alberta Canada to Texas. He labeled it "The great dinosaur graveyards of the American West." There was so much interesting materials in this chapter that I must condense and highlight.
    He points out that the Jurassic period was the "Golden Age of Giants," the age of the really huge, monster creatures, like Brontosaurus. He goes into great detail of the different layers of rock and soil, and how they were formed, and the colors which must be fascinating to see. Como Bluff was once covered with warm ocean water, the Sundance Sea, which disappeared 140 million years ago. He also points out that "No single spot on earth preserves this history in its entirety. But southeastern Wyoming comes close."
    He speaks of the Morrison Formation, that "made Brontosaurus a household word." It was in the 1880s that Union Pacific Railway station managers found "huge bones along their right-of-way." They cabled Othniel Charles Marsh, a Yale paleontologist, who then hired the railway men to excavate the bones and ship them to New Haven. This event changed the way Europe looked upon America as a leader in paleontology. The Morrison Formation indeed has provided a wealth of dinosaur bones, all the way from southern Montana to the Cimarron River in Oklahoma.
    Here, Bakker discusses dinosaur extinctions, and there were several, but the final one came 65 million years ago, called the "Time of Great Dying," He says, "At Como I can walk right through one of the earlier extinctions, a time when the Jurassic families, which seemed so secure after fifty million years of success, suffered extinction." He later continues with, "But at Breakfast Bench these Jurassic threads are broken; the familiar stars of the Morrison disappear, and in their place a new cast enters to play the dominant roles."
    Bakker's descriptions of dinosaurs are colorful, too, like the herbivore, Triceratops, that even Tyrannosaurus rex wouldn't want to mess with. "Over each reinforced eye socket grew a horn of such size as to threaten even the largest Tyrannosaurus rex. In life these weapons were long, sharp, and deadly because the underlying bone was covered with a horny sheath like that surrounding the cores of cattle and buffalo horns today. Out on the snout was a third, midline horn, and below it a toothless beak, deep and powerful like that of a multi-ton snapping turtle. This too was clothed in life by a shiny hornlike substance, giving the beak an ever-growing, self-sharpening edge."
    It seems that American paleontologists did not want to speak of dinosaur sex, but, well, that's where baby dinosaurs came from. It was the Swedish naturalist Carl Wiman who was interested in animal sex, "well aware of the multitudinous ways in which modern species of bird, frog, and mammal make love by making noise—hooting, gurgling, chirping, and bellowing. He hired the American Charles Sternberg to send horned and duckbill dinosaurs, such as the trombone duckbill Parasaurolophus to the Swedish Museum at Uppsala. These unique air passages must have provided the means for sexually attractive noises. One can only imagine the sounds of the Late Cretaceous evenings.
    Bakker then explains more about the layering of the sediment and how it could make it more difficult to piece together the mysteries of the dinosaur's extinction. He points out that these layers, after twenty million years, "was a thick sandwich of sediment that might reach a vertical height of five miles." Wow!
    One of the facts Bakker presents really stunned me, although it makes complete sense. I always had this idea that events could be reconstructed from these digs, but in fact, what the excavators find has more missing links than connecting ones. He says, "In the best of basins, fossils weren't preserved every year, or even every hundred years. Big bones, such as those of dinosaurs, required big floods of mud to cover them, and these events didn't happen except at long intervals, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years apart."
    But here, as we are caught in the grips of this catastrophic climate disaster which very well could wipe us off the face of the earth within a few years, we tend to think of extinctions as sudden, and indeed, I have always believed an apocalyptic event happened to kill off the dinosaurs very suddenly. But that was not the case. Though, in comparison to their long time on the planet, this was a "short period," in fact, "it took no more than two million years—maybe much less—to exterminate all the Cretaceous dynasties. And there were opportunists waiting around for the dinosaurs to die: small furry, insect-eating, berry-chewing mammals scurrying around the underbrush, fidgeting about, grooming their whiskers."
    I will not say too much about the next chapter, Mesozoic Class Warfare: Cold-Bloods Versus the Fabulous Furballs, because it is more about reptiles than dinosaurs, however, it is extremely interesting, as is this entire book. I want to point out that Bakker definitely is not a mammal fan and thinks their importance, at least in the long, long history of our planet, is overblown. He begins this chapter by mentioning that in Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, where the furry mongoose conquers the big, bad cobra, he always roots for the cobra. And he refers to the mammal supporters as "mammal chauvinists." Well, OK! Snakes are my very favorite animal, and I have four pet turtles, so I understand. In this chapter, he speaks of the extraordinary success of modern reptiles, and supplies some stunning facts, such as the monster-sized Komodo Dragon, nine feet long and two hundred pounds, which can easily kill a human, (see below) and a lizard from the past in Australia twenty times heavier, called Megalania. He speaks of his own adored pet, now deceased—a golden-skinned savannah monitor named G. Hawn. HAHA! And he mentions some amazing feats of reptiles, especially the chameleon, which he calls the "best tongue show in lizarddom." He says: "Our own mammalian order, the primates, prides itself on hand-eye coordination; monkeys, apes, and man are all good manipulators. But no mammal can rival the chameleon for eye-tongue coordination."
    But the most astonishing feat described in this chapter is the process in which snakes swallow, for instance, a two-hundred pound boa eating a monkey, or perhaps an antelope. Head first it always goes, then the jaws unhinge, and the double rows of teeth, not meant for chewing, of course, but act as a sort of conveyor belt to move lunch, (which has been suffocated), down into the snake's body. WOW!!! And YUK.
    In the last chapter of Part 1, Dinosaurs score Where Komodo Dragons Fail, he makes a very strong case for the theory that dinosaurs were not cold-blooded, as previously believed, but must have been warm-blooded to survive even the cooler rainy spells in tropical climates, which, during their time, would have even been Wyoming. He compares survivability of both reptiles and mammals, comparing factors such as body temperature loss, even on a hot day in the shade. Very interesting and convincing materials. I was also not aware that so many mammals were alive during the dinosaur days, and had the dinosaurs been cold-blooded, they would not have been able to dominate as they did, and certainly not able to prevent mammal evolution as they did. He also talks of a giant tortoise, the Colossochelys, which he described as a fossilized Volkswagen Beetle. This spectacular species, alas, was killed off by humans.
    Incidentally, since this book was written, a new theory has developed that places dinosaurs as an "in-between" cold-and warm-blooded creature.

Part 2: The Habitat of the Dinosaurs
    Part 1 was more of a general introduction on dinosaurs, excavations, and theories. Part 2 hones in on particulars. The Case of the Brontosaurus: Finding the Body, is about determining how a certain dinosaur died in order to discover how it lived. Bakker presents typical challenges on how to interpret information, and, since this book has "heresies" in the title, he often goes against "established orthodoxy." He proved many long-time beliefs about dinosaurs were false, and the one here is that the brontosaurus, Camarasaurus was a torpid, lumbering water-dweller. He talks in depth about teeth, which would of course determine what each animal ate, and the fact that dinosaurs had an endless supply of teeth that pushed out the old as the new grew in, which would be a handy replacement for a tool that was essential for life. He also speaks quite a bit about earth formations and conditions, which would go hand in hand with piecing together the mystery of dinosaur life, including the terrible droughts that hit areas such as Wyoming and Colorado. This killed off the brontosaur-type creatures and gave rise to the "beaked" dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period, including armored, horned and duckbill dinosaurs.
    But we're not quite done with Brontosaurus yet. The next chapter, Gizzard Stones and Brontosaurus Menus, Bakker presents some convincing data that brontosaurs, like birds, had gizzards. Because of their enormous bodies—up to 35 tons!!!—plus the fact that they had 70-foot necks and tiny heads "with only a handful of pencil-size teeth," it would have been impossible to supply enough edible food—limited to mushy water vegetation—to keep a beast that size alive. He says its metabolism would have been somewhere between that of a tortoise and a cactus! HAHA!
    But in fact, this particular dinosaur type absolutely thrived during the Jurassic era. The gizzard theory strengthened when piles of unusual pebbles showed up near the bones of these creatures. Possibly they were expelled when the dinosaur died, or when the carcass was eaten after death. There was also the "belch-a-bushel" theory, that periodically, they would expel the old pebbles and supply new ones, often travelling a distance to choose the right stones.
    This chapter concludes with a discussion of lips, noses and the possibility that some dinosaurs had blowholes like whales.
    In the next chapter, The Case of the Duckbill's Hand, Bakker once again disputes dinosaur orthodoxy concerning land vs. swamp dinosaurs. In the case of the duckbill, it had been assumed that they were good swimmers and had webbed feet. It took a dead camel in a South African park to provide his needed evidence that what appeared to be webbing on the dinosaur was merely a dried out bag of skin on a paw that had once been plump and padded.
    Dinosaurs at Table is about chewing, ruminating and digesting, with an in depth discussion of teeth. Bakker states that duckbills' mouths contained "one of the most efficient cranial Cuisinarts in land-vertebrate history," and that their beaks were more like that of a tortoise than a duck. He also points out that they had cheeks, and that all reptiles, ancient or modern, are cheekless. Such fascinating information that one does not usually ponder!!
    The last chapter in Part 2, When Dinosaurs Invented Flowers, is about the co-evolution of plants and animals and how they help or hinder each other. In this case, it is the angiosperms—flowering plants that developed in order to reproduce and spread seed quickly before being mowed down by the herbivores. Angiosperms make up the vast majority of plant life now, and though we think of many of them—squash, tomatoes, green beans and every other garden vegetable, as existing to provide our food, and in fact, that would be true, but to the plant, flowering is a means of survival.
    He then provides information on the browsing or grazing habits of various dinosaurs. The Barosaurus, a type of brontosaur, could reach tender leaves forty-five or fifty feet high. WOW, big guy, huh? A giraffe can only reach eighteen feet or so. There are so many wonderful drawings in this book, and in this chapter, they compare the grazers, whose skeletons would not permit them to even raise their heads too much off the ground, as in a modern American Buffalo, to those that could reach up very high.
    One thing I want to point out that has been extremely enlightening, and has enabled me to remember one dinosaur from another is that Bakker classifies them in groups, for instance brontosaurs are a type of dinosaur which includes Barosaurus, Brontosaurus, Diplodocus and others, the ones with the extremely long necks, which I am sure you can picture in your mind, because they are one of the most common in dinosaur pictures. The horned dinosaurs would be those like Triceratops, with sharp and lethal protrusions on their heads and other places. The duckbills have, well, snouts that look like duckbills, and thrived during the Cretaceous Period. The wonderful thing about this book is that I am not only learning this stuff, but remembering it, because Bakker has such a down-to-earth method of explaining it in a language all can understand. (He has taught children as young as kindergarten!) And add to that, his great sense of humor and obvious adoration of these wonderful creatures who, in their time, owned the earth. If you did not love dinosaurs before reading this book, that will change, I promise.

Part 3: Defense, Locomotion, and the Case for Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs
    This review is getting way long, so I will be even more brief in the information I share. The problem is that it is all so interesting. In The Teutonic Diplodocus: A Lesson in Gait and Carriage, Bakker talks about bent elbows (as in lizards), vs. straight elbows, (as in elephants), and how museums incorrectly posed these skeletons because people still perceived these creatures as reptile-like crawlers. They were not. Running gaits are also compared. A modern three-ton rhino can run 35 mph, with all feet off the ground. Horned dinosaurs also ran in a similar manner. An elephant is never able to have all feet off the ground, nor reach such velocity. The brontosaur type dinosaurs, which could reach 35 tons would compare with the elephant. Can you imagine what a stampede would have been like? I shudder. Tyrannosaurs could reach 40 mph.
    Mesozoic Arms Race presents information on dinosaur armor. These were the herbivores who needed protection against the tyrannosaur-type predators, and a stegosaur, such as Diracodon, covered with spiny plates, also had a lethal tail, with four long, sharp bones attached to the end of the tail, (as many as eight in other species). The dinosaur could pivot and swing the tail right into the belly of its attacker—not a pretty sight. Bakker says: "Stegosaurus must have been a grand performer under attack—a five-ton ballet dancer with an armor-plated tutu of flipping bony triangles and a swinging war club," (See below). Later in the chapter, Bakker provides two pages of wonderful drawing of the various heads of horned dinosaurs, which must have been brutal weapons indeed.
    Defense Without Armor discusses tails, claws, teeth and jaws. Bakker mentions the deadly claw on the modern cassowary, an ostrich-like bird which is just plain mean, and one swipe can disembowel a human. A few months before I read this book, that actually happened to an older man who had one as a pet. One really has to ask, why would someone . . .?
    The last two chapters in Part 3 are about flying dinosaurs. In Dinosaurs Take to the Air, Bakker begins, "Seventy million years ago a dragon of the air stretched its membranous wings over the Texas delta. Forty feet from wingtip to wingtip, this aerial leviathan possessed a wingspan greater than some twin-engine airliners and was three times wider than the greatest living bird, the Andean condor." But the first winged dinosaur was a tiny one, found in Bavaria and named Pterodactylus by Baron Cuvier in Paris. There was at first skepticism that they were even able to fly and described as "failures in everything they did." Bakker, if you do not realize it by now, must have spent a great part of his life proving that standard accepted "facts" about these creatures were wrong. As for this particular creature, he imagines it colored like a puffin. He says "When the flying reptiles are portrayed in seabird tones, these Mesozoic fliers lose their malevolent aspect and become positively handsome." And he has an adorable drawing of one probing for a worm, (see below). The rest of the chapter tells us about many different flying dinosaurs, some even feathered.
    Archaeopteryx Paternity Suit: The Dinosaur-Bird Connection. In this important chapter, Bakker discusses the evolutionary family tree from which birds emerged from their dinosaur ancestors, and it was a perplexing challenge. He tells us about birds with teeth, and clawed fingers on their wings. He also makes a sarcastic comment about the religious people who still believe in the biblical creation story: " Inveterate creationists, then or now, never allow their faith to fall victim to facts."
    And I have to make this personal comment. Until I read this book, I really perceived them as small-brained, lumbering monsters that either killed or avoided being killed, that ate and reproduced and then eventually became extinct, as would be expected from such an inferior creature. Boy was I wrong!! I have immense respect now, and see them as magnificent!. Bakker has written a novel called Raptor Red, about a female Utahraptor, told from her perspective. The reviews on that book left me no doubt that I needed to buy it, so I did.
    And on that comment, I will end this review. Part 4: The Warm-Blooded Metronome of Evolution, builds Bakker's case for warm-blooded dinosaurs, probably the most important point he wished to convey when he wrote the book, although, he broke many, many conventional beliefs, and had a great deal to convey about the false orthodox opinions toward these wonderful creatures. And it all makes sense. Plus the man put an immense, unbelievable amount of time and effort to prove each of his points, traveling around the world to study bones and digs. And so, not only do I now have great respect for dinosaurs, I have even greater respect for Dr. Bakker!
    Part 5: Dynastic Frailty and the Pulses of Animal History, wraps up the history of dinosaurs and their relationships to other animals. Remember, not all prehistoric animals were dinosaurs! There were reptiles and mammals especially, and Bakker does not consider dinosaurs to be reptiles. They were warm-blooded! He also talks a bit about extinction, with some surprises. There were actually eight extinctions, and it was the last, at the end of the Cretaceous Period that wiped out the dinosaurs completely. And it was not a sudden thing, either, as history has taught us. They died out, perhaps over millions of years, but were just not replaced by new dinosaur species. I will discuss Bakker's extinction theories a little more in my next article, Feedback Loops, because they apply to the imminent extinction we now face.
    In all, this book is a gem. It is long and takes a while to read, but it is absolutely worth the effort. I have learned so much. I cannot express how highly I recommend reading it. Something inside me has strangely changed—I have been greatly moved. I feel as if I have taken a long journey into the past and experienced a secret life of our Mother Earth that we can never grasp or imagine. I believe the more we know the truth about everything that has happened on this planet, the more we can piece together its real history and understand what we now face.
    As I said earlier, Bakker has a wonderful sense of humor that is apparent in his writing and the exquisite drawings that make this book even more delightful. Some are cartoon-style and others are of bones and reconstructed bodies, based on the information paleontologists have acquired from their digs. But even those drawings are slyly humorous. If I had to pick one absolute favorite, it would be the one below. I kept returning to it when I needed a laugh. So here we have this herbivore, a big-plate stegosaur Diracodon being attacked by a meat-eating Ceratosaurus. Notice the little pivot-dance of the Diracodon, and the hard, sharp, bony spines on the tail preparing to swing. And notice where they will hit the Ceratosaurus. OUCH!
Page 227

Diracodon and Ceratosaurus

    Here is a helpful chart to which I kept referring as I read. It delineates the major eras, and what animals thrived during each period.
Page 17

Prehistoric Eras

    And this is another comical drawing, which is also true. Bakker stated that Komodo Dragons ate large animals and tourists. The shadow indicate how much larger the ancient version of that animal would have been.
Page 62

Komodo Dragon and Tourist

    And last is an image of a Pterodactylus, which Bakker says would have been puffinlike in color, and "positively handsome."
Page 276

Pterodactylus and Worm

qwryufb

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