THE YEAR OF THE DINOSAUR by Edwin H. Colbert

THE YEAR OF THE DINOSAUR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Unlike Scheffer, whose classic Year of the Whale (1969) and . . . Seal (1970) inaugurated this series, Colbert has no fund of detailed information and colorful lore to draw from in reconstructing his gentle, 30-ton Brontosaurus' year. Despite the series' month-by-month format there is no sense of seasonal progression (one ""month"" is taken up with a rundown of other dinosaurs she might have encountered) or of a life cycle--though mating, egg-laying, and hatching do occur; and despite a flood, cliff fall, and Allosaurus attack, there is surely no drama. What Colbert does instead--expertly--is to construct twelve brief scenarios, then devote the bulk of each chapter to explaining how they were arrived at by ""putting together many small bits of evidence."" The opening Allosaurus attack comes straight from the famous footprints found in Texas; other particulars are extrapolated from relevant features or behavior of the elephant, crocodile, or marine turtle. Such a structure allows Colbert to respond to recent revisionist suggestions as to dinosaur nature and evolution: reptiles they remain to him, without question, and egg-layers too (Colbert cites findings of sauropod eggs in Southern France and ignores the notion of live birth); apropos of warm-bloodedness, he gives dinosaurs a likely ""heterothermic"" status part way between ecto- and endothermy. And he does see the Brontosaurs roaming in herds, at home on land and in water, efficient walkers (he even plots their gait) but not, as some have suggested, rapid runners. In short, the general reader fired by the newer ideas is provided, by the best known of the traditional paleontologists, with a flexible, reasonably conservative corrective; for the newcomer, he offers a readable, up-to-date picture of the hundred-million-year-old Thunder Lizard who will no doubt continue to surprise us.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Scribners