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I recently picked up a first edition copy of Archosauria: A New Look at the Old Dinosaur. Having read dozens and dozens of dinosaur books, I’m still amazed by this piece of work. It clearly sets the stage, in 1979, for the major revisions to the old dinosaur theories once espoused in books from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The author appeals to ecological and anatomical knowledge to draw some startling conclusions. From a total revamp of Hadrosaur biology to a thoughtful analysis of dinosaur intellect based on their spinal cords, the author reveals an astounding portrait of these creatures. He even offers a completely different understanding of the frills of the Ceratopsians, placing their giant frills under their skin by analyzing the anatomy of jaw muscles and their attachments to bone.

While thoroughly scientific with plenty of big words, the author also maintains a lighter and more conversational tone than most books with a comparable level of intellectual rigor. He cannot resist poking fun of the stodgy and misguided conventions of the past, and the reader may laugh out loud more than once. It’s easy to see now how this book influenced great works like William Stout’s The New Dinosaurs and books being produced today.

No review would be complete without praise for the author’s illustrations. Not only can he re-write dinosaur history, he can draw it, too! With wonderful stippling and cross-hatching techniques and a firm grasp of anatomy, he brings his vision of endothermic, intelligent, agile dinosaurs to life. If you think you know all there is to know about dinosaurs, think again! Archosauria will open up a whole new world to you.