By John R. Horner

A reissue of the now-classic e-book that revolutionized the way in which we expect approximately dinosaurs. ''Popular-science writing at its best.''--Los Angeles Times

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Additional resources for Digging Dinosaurs: The Search that Unraveled the Mystery of Baby Dinosaurs

Sample text

And they retained this dominance for 140 million years, until the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. The first appearance of the dinosaurs was not, however, as dramatic as their later domination of the planet. Their evolutionary debut was marked by nothing more than the slight turn of a hip. The traditional language of evolution uses a kind of shorthand. Fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles and one group of reptiles into another group of reptiles called dinosaurs.

Marion Brandvold had discovered a lovely little window on the late Cretaceous. What we did was to open that window and climb through it. 49 CHAPTER 2 THE FIRST NEST W ith a coffee can's worth of baby dinosaurs in hand, I called Don Baird at Princeton. I was on my vacation, after all, and I was due back at the university in a few days. Don extended my vacation and wired me $500 for expenses. Suddenly, instead of a preparator on a holiday, I was the principal investigator on a funded paleontological expedition—a small expedition, two guys in a van, but an expedition nonetheless.

It requires a practiced eye to see what a piece of a femur is, but a jawbone is a jawbone. An adult duckbill jaw would run about three feet long. This one was two inches long. Bob had been skeptical about the femur, but the jaw convinced him. We told Marion Brandvold how important the fossils looked, and she agreed to give them to us. She filled up a coffee can with them and presented it to us. When we sorted out the bones later, we could tell by counting the legbones that we had the remains of at least four baby duckbills.

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