The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte - review by Henry Gee

Henry Gee

Before the Asteroid

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World

By

Macmillan 404pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

We really must talk about Rex. One bite from a Tyrannosaurus rex would have had the same impact as being run over by a pickup truck. And this was a bite from just one of its teeth. T rex had more than fifty, each the size and shape of a banana. T rex couldn’t run very fast, but didn’t need to. With a length approaching forty feet and a weight of at least five tons, Rex needed only an easy amble on its mighty hind limbs to keep up with most things. What about its pathetically tiny arms, each with just two fingers? Don’t be deceived. These arms were muscled and clawed, and could do more than make rude gestures – very much more. They worked to hold the unfortunate prey in place, like those tiny forks you use to hold corn on the cob while you munch it. Say what you like about T rex, but it was a tidy eater.

The latest research shows that Rex was no dumb brute, but had a large brain, pin-sharp hearing and binocular vision. That Jurassic Park trick of staying still because T rex would only see you if you moved? Nope. The tyrant king might even have had a coat of downy feathers, but brave would be the opponent who referred to it as ‘fluffy’ to its face. T rex was, in fact, so mighty, so all-conquering, so dominant, that it required the impact of an asteroid to put an end to its rule.

New research, carried out by a fresh breed of highly active, intelligent researchers such as Steve Brusatte, shows that dinosaurs were far from lumbering has-beens of evolution displaced by tiny mammals, but highly active, intelligent creatures that survive today in the guise of birds. There are dozens of dinosaur

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter