How can one account for the thrill of finding a fossil? Partly it comes from the straightforward excitement of unearthing buried treasure; partly, from the romance of realizing that the object in your hand was alive millions of years before mankind appeared on earth; and partly, from the exultant realization that, no matter how common the fossil you have found, you are the first human being to see that particular one.

Oddly, few books about fossils convey anything of this delight. Digging Dinosaurs is the exception. Here, unusually and thrillingly, is captured all the excitement of the search and the discovery. i have had the rare good fortune of crawling alongside Jack Horner as he made his way up the side of a gulch in the Montana badlands, picking out, with his uncannily sharp eye, fragments of dinosaur eggshells and the tiny bones of the nestlings that emerged from them, and of hearing him bring to life in words the scene around us when it was thronged with vast numbers of nesting giants. I can, therefore, vouch for the accu racy with which this book re-creates that experience—and that, by itself, will make it a joy to read for anyone who has any interest in the natural world.

But this book is something more. Lots of us find fossils. A few people find new species of fossils. But only one or two have the insight and deductive skill, the persistence and sheer good fortune to make discoveries that lead paleontology into completely new areas of interpretation. Jack Horner is one of those people. Not only has he discovered new kinds of dinosaurs, he has revealed whole new aspects of their behavior that bring them to life as never before.

His account of how he did so is a kind of detective story. It begins with the discovery of clues and ends by using them to solve a mystery. Like all good detective stories, it is difficult to put down and you pant to know what will happen next. But there is, of course, a huge difference. Detective stories unravel the mystery of a single fictional death. This story reveals the truth about a multitude of actual lives. No extinct animals have gripped our imagination more vividly than dinosaurs. Few have been written about more extensively. But this marvelous yet modest book sets up a new milestone in the advance of our understanding of these astounding creatures.

David Attenborough London, August 1988

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