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Too Big to Walk: The New Science of Dinosaurs

Too Big to Walk: The New Science of Dinosaurs

Brian J Ford

Dinosaurs are the most vivid, commanding and powerful icons of Earth's history. As a group, they continue to intrigue. Since the making of Jurassic Park, it has been discovered that they were multi-coloured, feathered animals, not the drab scaled animals portrayed.

Palaeontologists have an agreed interpretation of the life of dinosaurs, yet the latest evidence offers a revolutionary interpretation to the eye of a biologist. Climatological evidence supports the theory that the habitat dinosaurs inhabited was largely wet and warm. Today's continents and mountain ranges had yet to form. After major mountain building in the Palaeozoic, continents had clustered into the supercontinent Pangea which started breaking up and drifting apart in the Triassic. In the initial period the drifting continents had no more than minor collisions with other continents, so that the earth during the reign of the dinosaurs lacked high mountain ranges, and sea level was raised. Major mountain ranges from the Palaeozoic had been levelled by erosion, and the continents were flat and covered with coastal lowlands with meandering rivers and huge shallow lakes. Analysis also shows that at low latitudes the temperature of that watery environment was about 37ºC, which solves the paradox of the warm blooded reptile. Dinosaurs had warm blood without requiring an internal mechanism to regulate their temperature; it was the watery environment that buffered their bodies.

Dinosaur fossils are found in mudstones and siltstones, which is a clear pointer to where they lived a quiet aquatic environment. This is the only theory that explains why there are endless sets of fossilised dinosaur footprints, but none of the large ones show trail marks. Fossil footprints once believed to show a stampede were actually left by dinosaurs wading, as testified by the absence of dragging marks of their heavy tails.

More and more is being discovered about dinosaur lives: locomotion, communal hunting, nesting behaviour, distribution, extinction. Prof Ford brings together these amazing discoveries in this remarkable new book which undoubtedly will ruffle a few feathers or scales if you are an old-school dinosaur lover. 400 pages.

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