Cover image for Eggs, nests, and baby dinosaurs : a look at dinosaur reproduction
Eggs, nests, and baby dinosaurs : a look at dinosaur reproduction
Carpenter, Kenneth, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 336 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 26 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE862.D5 C235 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



... a brilliant combination of imagination and science--and one of the best popular science books of the year." --Library Journal (starred review)

Presented with clarity and wit, Carpenter's exploration offers the very latest information on dinosaur eggs, hatchlings and babies, as well as a detailed look at dinosaur courtship, mating, nests, and physical development. Included: an extensive directory of dinosaur egg and baby discovery sites.

Author Notes

Kenneth Carpenter is an authority on dinosaurs and Mesozoic marine reptiles and is affiliated with the Denver Museum of Natural History. He has edited important collections of papers dealing with dinosaurs, including Dinosaur Systematics: Approaches and Perspectives (with Philip J. Currie).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two ways to contemplate the behaviors of the dinosaurs--with clinical restraint and with exuberant imagination--are exemplified by these two titles. The devil in deducing dino behavior is in the paucity of details: the fossil record is fragmentary, its pieces separated by gaps of millions of years. Behavior can be inferred from intent scrutiny of the bones and, in Carpenter's case, the eggs. Since fossilized eggs were sensationally discovered in the Gobi Desert in the 1920s by Roy Chapman Andrews, their study has become a strong specialty in paleontology. Carpenter describes the field's principal finds since Andrews as well as the techniques for examining fossil eggs (microscopy, crystallography), and corrals the knowledge to picture the reproductive, nesting, and possible nurturing activities of dinosaurs. Although not above throwing an occasional wisecrack into his text, Carpenter writes technically and suits best the reader ready for detailed expertise about dinosaur eggs. For minds more attuned to impressionistic drama, Haines scripts a wonderful story of the dinosaurs' Mesozoic heyday. His book spins off from a same-titled BBC-produced series that the Discovery Channel will broadcast next April, and the book's visual provenance is reflected in spectacular imagery. The computer-generated pictures are fitted to the text, which depicts the eat-or-be-eaten life cycle of an individual animal making its living in a Triassic, Jurassic, or Cretaceous environment. Taking some license with what the fossil evidence strictly allows, Haines daubs his stories in color, paces them with predation, and climaxes them in attacks successful or foiled. Starring characters familiar to red-blooded dino fans, such as allosauris and iguanodon, Haines' vibrant and violent scenarios will thrill and awe. --Gilbert Taylor

Library Journal Review

Carpenter, who is affiliated with the Denver Museum of Natural History, previously edited a collection of scholarly papers on this same topic (Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, Cambridge Univ., 1994). This time he has a little fun--or at least what scientists would consider fun--with his subject: he indulges in fanciful speculation about dinosaur courtship, sexual behavior, nesting, egg laying, and infancy. "Face it," he writes in Chapter 5, "having gotten this far, you want to know how a pair of three-ton Stegosaurus did it--probably like porcupines: very carefully." Drawing from what we know about the mating and reproductive behavior of living birds and reptiles, from detailed knowledge of the physiology and development of eggs, and from slim fossil evidence, he imagines the sex lives of dinosaurs. Thorough illustrations range from hypothetical dinosaur courtship dances to detailed scientific diagrams of how eggshells form. Admittedly, most of his speculations cannot be verified. Still, this is a brilliant combination of imagination and science--and one of the best popular science books of the year. For public and academic libraries. [This is the first title in a new series, "Life of the Past," from Indiana University Press.--Ed.]--Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Books on dinosaurs include encyclopedias and other compendia of information on occurrences, structure, and life histories; on systematics, extinction, and trackways; and dinosaurs of selected US states. Now there is one on their reproduction. Carpenter (Denver Museum of Natural History), who has spent much of his career studying dinosaurs, offers an extensive examination of dinosaur eggs, embryos, and babies. He reports on the evolution of eggs, the likely mating processes, the formation and laying of eggs, establishing a nest, hatching, and "growing up." He concludes with questions about dinosaur extinction, with specific reference to the vulnerability of eggs. Carpenter includes a discussion of naming of eggs because most finds cannot be associated with fossils known from their bones. There are copious appendixes on locations where eggs, nests, and babies have been found and on types of eggshells from macro- and microperspectives. There are some 20 pages of references; numerous black-and-white photographs; tables and graphs; and a centerpiece of 13 pictures including color illustrations of dinosaur behavior. Unfortunately, the photographs have a muddy quality, detracting from their usefulness. Carpenter uses some outdated models of terrestrial vertebrate origin and reports, often without comment, suggestions of other researchers on dinosaur behavior, leaving readers to judge the currency of some ideas. Overall, a fine addition to libraries serving the public. D. Bardack; University of Illinois at Chicago

Table of Contents

1 First Discoveries
2 Where to Find Dinosaur Eggs and Babies
3 Which Came First, the Lizard or the Egg?
4 The Mating Game
5 How Dinosaurs Did It
6 Making an Egg
7 Eggs as Fossils
8 How to Study a Fossil Egg
9 What's in a Name?
10 The Nest
11 The Embryo and Hatchling
12 Baby Grows Up
13 Eggs and the Death of Dinosaurs