I’ve seen various posts on social media around the theme of how it’s sad that as an adult, you don’t get to have a favourite dinosaur any more. What’s that all about? I certainly still have a favourite dinosaur (and I’ve been gratified to find out that it’s not one of those ones that have been taken away from the roster), do you? (Mine’s at the bottom of this review …)

So, like many people, I was dinosaur-mad as a child, I have a collection of plastic dinosaurs bought at the Natural History Museum, and I rushed to see Dippy the diplodocus when she came near me on tour. This book, then, is a shoe-in for me, because as with many people again, my knowledge about dinosaurs came to a halt as I aged, and I didn’t really keep up with the latest developments. I’ve been fascinated, as a result, to read about all the amazing science that’s unlocking more of their secrets, although, as we’ll see, not all of the mysteries have been explained.

Michael J. Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology and head of the Palaeontology Research Group at the University of Bristol, so you can be sure he knows his stuff; he takes us through various aspects of dinosaur science, always accessible and always explaining things really clearly, even when they’re quite complicated.

The book opens with the exciting discovery of the colours that make up dinosaur feathers – yes, colours and feathers, things I never realised they would be able to work out. We then look at their history, extinction, bodily make-up (warm-blooded or cool-blooded, size, egg size) and even behaviour, with many arguments being set out and a healthy understanding that some of it is unknown and some still contentious. I learned so much – both deep scientific stuff and great facts such as the Crystal Palace dinosaurs beloved in my youth (and featuring in an E. Nesbit novel) actually being the first serious reconstruction ever of dinosaurs.

Benton is a lovely guide, sharing his own story as a cheeky undergraduate and research associate and his knowledge of any of the big experts whose careers have intersected with his. This ties it into real people without being the kind of book that hooks onto a tortured life experience and links everything to it – much better in my eyes.

A must-read for anyone who, like me, loved dinosaurs as a child and still hankers after them, anyone interested in the history and progress of science, and anyone wanting a good, clear guide to a still-fascinating subject.

I’ve written more extensively about this book for the Shiny New Books review site, and I will add my review link to this post when it’s up: as this is such a beloved topic of mine, I wanted to share my more emotional reaction to it here.

Thank you to Thames & Hudson for sending this book for an honest review.

My favourite dinosaurs? Triceratops and apatosaurus. And yours?

And another confession …

I had my hair cut on Tuesday and the Oxfam Books is on the way home. I was really just scanning for Persephones but I wandered into the travel writing section and found these beauties. I couldn’t turn them down, could I, and they go together cover-wise in a funny way, I think. July 2019 2

Madeleine Bunting’s “Love of Country” is a lyrical exploration of the Hebrides, and popping right down to the other end of the country, Gavin Knight has written about the actual West Penwith area, my favourite part of Cornwall which we visit every year, and I’ve seen surnames I’ve heard mentioned by my West Penwith friends in the acknowledgements and am now wondering if anyone I know will crop up in it. “The Swordfish and the Star” is in good condition, a lovely hardback, and I can’t wait to read it (although I might have to!). Read either of these? Agree I couldn’t have left the shop without them?