Cover image for Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand and other animals of the Mesozoic era
Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand and other animals of the Mesozoic era
Long, John A., 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
188 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE862.D5 L5792 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Beginning in the 1990s, fossils unearthed in Australia and New Zealand began to reshape the debates around some of paleontology's most hotly contested questions: how dinosaurs and birds are related, whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded, and when and how the mammals began their rise.

In this first comprehensive account of Mesozoic vertebrates from New Zealand and Australia, John Long shows that, while the fossil record from the region can be sparse and fragmentary, finds from such sites as Dinosaur Cove, Coober Pedy, Lightning Ridge, and the fossil trackways at Broome offer new and occasionally startling evidence that has the potential to challenge current views. Long's up-to-date coverage includes the discovery in late 1996 of a new shrew-like mammal, Ausktribosphenos nyktos .

Entries on individual fauna begin with a brief introduction, written to be accessible to the armchair paleontologist, that describes the prevailing climate and habitat during the relevant geological time period, followed by more technical information aimed at specialists, including type characteristics, location and other details about the specimen's discovery. Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand is profusely illustrated with photographs of the fossils, maps, and newly commissioned life restorations by some of the leading dinosaur illustrators from Australia and the United States: Peter Schouten, Tony Windberg, Bill Stout, and Mike Skrepnick.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Dinomania afflicts five-and fifty-year-olds alike. But unlike many scientific subjects, the study of the terrible lizards is accessible to enthusiasts spanning the ages, aided by such visually colorful works as DeCourten and Long's. Visitors to Dinosaur National Monument are only scratching the surface of what Utah offers in extinct charismatic fauna, because those animals tramped all over Utah, not just in a federally designated preserve, and left millions of footprints, fossilized bones, and gastroliths (rocks from dino gizzards) that continually weather to the surface. The abundance stems from the geologic upheaval of the Mesozoic age, when "all hell broke loose," as paleontologist DeCourten writes. During the Mesozoic, the Utah area drifted northward from the equator, through the dry horse latitudes, then farther north still into wetter climes. The dinosaurs, consequently, evolved in radically different environments, the geologic record of which DeCourten ably describes, supported by photos of Utah's buttes and canyons. But paintings by Carol Brest Van Kempen more viscerally capture the imagination. There are 22 paintings, which crown this capable introduction to the age of dinos in general, not just parochially those of Utah. Long's work also sports eyecatching paintings, and its quality, too, extends beyond mere eye candy. The reason lies in Long's successful appeal to both expert paleontologists and novitiates. Long, a museum curator in Perth, balances what is popular (pictures of toothy, menacing skulls) with what is basic (precise taxonomic description). The two levels of detail coexist thanks to an effective graphic presentation that enhances the text with photographs of dig sites, bones and clawprints, and reconstructions of the dinosaurs. This look supports the substance of Australia's status, rivaled by the American West, as the world's dinotopia. The dry environments promote quick discovery of fossils eroding out of Mesozoic strata, and Long's descriptions of a century's worth of Aussie finds are worth most science collection's consideration. --Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

Title notwithstanding, this volume is basically an introduction to the vertebrate paleontology of the Mesozoic era of Australia and New Zealand. The actual number of true dinosaur fossils found is relatively small, in part a reflection on the fact that few paleontologists work in this vast area. For some obscure reason each chapter is introduced by several pages with a deep purple background, making for difficult reading. Once this obstacle is overcome, the text reads quite well and is both ideally illustrated and ideally mapped. Introductory chapters deal with fossils in general and the taxonomy of those reptiles popularly known as dinosaurs. Only one chapter deals specifically with dinosaur discoveries; the remainder pertain to other taxa and the localities where specimens were located. The profuse illustrations and taxonomic diagrams are the highlights of the volume. Considering all this, the volume is quite reasonably priced. An excellent introduction to the vertebrate paleontology of Australia and New Zealand, with references to every significant study in the area. A suitable guidebook. General readers; undergraduates; two-year technical program students. G. Nicholas; Manhattan College

Table of Contents

Preface The Study and Discovery of Dinosaurs
1 Dinosaurs as Fossils
2 The Family Tree of Dinosaurs
3 Australian and New Zealand Dinosaur Discoveries: A Brief History Australia and New Zealand in the Triassic
4 Amphibians and Reptiles Australia in the Jurassic
5 Amphibians, Marine Reptiles and Dinosaurs Australia and New Zealand in the Cretaceous
6 Dinosaurs
7 Australian Amphibians, Marine Reptiles, Crocodilians, Pterosaurs, Birds and Mammals
8 New Zealand Dinosaurs, Marine Reptiles and Pterosaurs