WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE DINOSAURS? by William Jaber

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE DINOSAURS?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The title is misleading. Only seven of approximately 100 text pages deal with the dinosaurs' demise, and in fact only about half the book deals directly with dinosaurs. The rest is background--about the history of fossil studies, science-religion controversies, geological periods, and continental drift. This last topic is called upon later when Jaber does arrive at the dinosaurs' disappearance--due to a number of changes, he says, but all of them in turn a result of drift. Much of the rest is a dinosaur-by-dinosaur survey, arranged by suborder according to their appearance along the two evolutionary branches, saurischian (reptilehipped) and ornithischian (bird-hipped). New ideas are incorporated into the descriptions--an iguanadon is pictured in a running pose, Tyrannosaurus' small forelegs are explained as props in rising from a prone position, ""reputable claims"" that sauropods roamed in herds are cited, and Jaber even goes so far as to reject the familiar names ""Brontosaurus"" and ""Allosaurus"" in favor of ""Apatosaurus"" and ""Antrodemus."" Other revisionist suggestions are set forth in later chapters where the classification controversy is aired--were the dinosaurs really reptiles, or were they an upright, endothermic class unto themselves?--and the likely descent of birds from dinosaurs is argued. Jaber's presentation is dry, his explanations (of the crocodile's ""high level of endothermy,"" for example) aren't always precise and enlightening, and there is too much loose, preliminary stage-setting. As to the title question, Daniel Cohen offers a more concise and balanced answer in What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs (1977). However, as a general, up-to-date overview, this could fill in somewhere between the numerous childrens' dinosaur books and the recent adult popularizations.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1978
Publisher: Messner