Dragon Seekers: How an Extraordinary Circle of Fossilists Discovered the Dinosaurs and Paved the Way for Darwin

Book Reviews | By on Nov 12th, 2006

Author: Christopher McGowan
Publisher: Perseus Publishing
Genre: Science/History
Pages: 254
Retail Price: 9.99
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This is an interesting account of the first fossil findings set against the backdrop of pre-Darwin 19th century England, when discoveries of long-extinct animals supported antediluvian theories instead of evolution.

Christopher McGowan, a Canadian paleontologist, succeeds in breathing life into the understated and unappreciated pioneers whose discoveries and insights in the fossil record contributed to Darwin’s theories that completely modernized our knowledge and attitudes on science and religion.

While the book contains excellent character portraits, it is written with the layman in mind, and I found it too breezy. Fossils are described only to the extent to move along the story, and I would’ve preferred a more in-depth approach to the fossils themselves and the way in which they were excavated and analyzed. Also, because McGowan’s focus is on a select circle of fossilists, you don’t get a feel for the large scheme; where they place in the chronology of archaeological findings, and how their discoveries fit within the social context of the setting. Perhaps this would have added extraneous length to the book and taken away from the author’s focus, but The Dragon Seekers left me wanting more.

But perhaps that is McGowan’s intention. He succeeds so well in imparting his enthusiasm for the subject matter onto the reader that we feel moved to begin our own digs for more information on this age of excitement and discovery.

Bottom Line: Dig in.
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