Must reading for dinosaur fans.

DINOSAUR LIVES

UNEARTHING AN EVOLUTIONARY SAGA

A top dinosaur paleontologist spins wondrous tales about his fieldworkand ponders what it means.

Horner, the curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies and the technical advisor for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and The Lost World (which opens this summer) teams up with a science journalist for a summary of his paleontological work over the last decade. Horner (Digging Dinosaurs) is less interested in unearthing spectacular museum pieces than in learning how dinosaurs lived and responded to their environment. This approach requires examining large numbers of fossils; as a result, Horner prefers to study smaller dinosaurs, whose bones can be excavated more easily than those of the huge sauropods. In fact, he once reburied a skeleton too large to fit in his museum. More attractive to him are nesting areas with dinosaur eggshells and skeletons of juveniles, or sites where large numbers of animals were killed at once, as in a drought. Surprisingly, these abound in the Montana hills. But Horner makes it clear that the fieldwork is only the beginning. The paleontologist's analytical tools include studying the evolutionary relationships of various kinds of animals and new ways to examine the internal structure of the fossilsfor example, microscopic examination of thin slices of bone. The study of living animals also sheds light on the past, and so Horner visits a pelican nesting ground to learn what it might reveal about whether (and how) dinosaurs nurtured their young. Horner often gives the reader a chance to puzzle out the meaning of a discovery before he offers his interpretation, as in a site where only the feet and lower legs of the specimens were preserved. One comes away from Dinosaur Lives with a healthy respect for Horner and his colleagues, whose discoveries and studies may be among the most fascinating endeavors in science.

Must reading for dinosaur fans.

Pub Date: June 18, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-017486-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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