Cover image for The bone museum : travels in the lost worlds of dinosaurs and birds
The bone museum : travels in the lost worlds of dinosaurs and birds
Grady, Wayne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Four Walls Eight Windows, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 291 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE861.4 .G72 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From China to Patagonia, award-winning science writer Wayne Grady accompanies a team of paleontologists on several digs. Following the work of Phil Currie, a leading vertebrate paleontologist, the author traces the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. Living in tents and experiencing fieldwork as well as the thrill of discovery firsthand, Grady recounts his journey with a storyteller's sense of narrative.

Author Notes

Wayne Grady was born in 1948 in Windsor, Ontario. He attended Carleton University where he earned a B.A. in English. He is a freelance magazine writer and author of several books. He is the former editor of Harrowsmith magazine. He has also translated several French novels into English.

He has been shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award and the Governor General's Award for Translation, for Black Squirrel, by Daniel Poliquin. He received the Governor General's Award for Translation, for On the Eighth Day, by Antoine Maillet and John Glassco Prize for Literary Translation, for Christopher Cartier of Hazelnut, by Antoine Maillet.

He lives in Kingston, Ontario.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Grady (The Quiet Limit of Our World), science editor for Equinox, sets out on a fun travelogue that brings him from his native Canada to the distant reaches of Chilean Patagonia and back through the Alberta Badlands, trying to find evidence in an ongoing paleontological debate: did dinosaurs not go extinct, but evolve into birds of the modern world? In 1996, this theory really took off with the discovery in China of small fossils that appeared to be dinosaurs covered in feather-like fibers. Working alongside leading paleontologist Phil Currie, an ardent proponent of the dinosaur-bird argument, Grady visits Canada's dinosaur-centered Tyrell Museum, works on a dig for a Gigantosaurus and considers his own place in the order of things, ruminating over the long-standing human interest in extinction; common Victorian wisdom, for instance, eschewed the idea of evolution. For Grady (and Darwin), extinction is a kind of screening process, one by which the living are accepted into the next world by passing through a curtain of death a flash flood, a massive meteor colliding with the earth or some other calamity that wipes out several species. Modern ornithology says that birds have developed over millions of years into their current incarnation; however, as Currie says, "Pluck the feathers off of a bird... and you've got a dinosaur." Whether he's musing over the migratory patterns of birds or where to buy winter gloves in Patagonia, Grady's intelligent, seasoned, witty writing makes for a pleasurable and thought-provoking read. (Nov. 7) Forecast: This dignified book could make medium-size waves in the pop-paleontology scene with sufficient review attention and handselling to science enthusiasts. Expect satisfactory sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

As its subtitle suggests, this book is a travelogue, its theme an exploration of the evolutionary relationship between dinosaurs and birds; but it would be a mistake to consider it an addition to the scientific literature. Like most modern travel stories, too much of this book is taken up by Grady's fleeting impressions and details, such as what kind of sandwiches he ate in Argentina. While trying to follow the paleontological thread of the adventure, readers are led into long digressions on Tarzan, cars named after animals, the tango, and other decidedly nonscientific topics. The science can be mildly interesting when it appears, but even it is handicapped by errors such as identifying Dimetrodon as a dinosaur and trilobites as crustaceans, and Haeckel's Law (stages in an organism's embryonic development and differentiation correspond to stages of evolutionary development characteristics of the species) taken too seriously. There are several gratuitous stabs at the "Victorian mind" and its alleged inability to fully comprehend evolution or sex, forgetting that this is the society that produced and nurtured Darwin and Huxley. The one explicit conclusion here is that if birds and dinosaurs can be evolutionarily linked, somehow the "comforting picture" of creation once provided by religion can be reassembled. Not for academic audiences. M. A. Wilson College of Wooster

Table of Contents

Part 1 Flight Pathsp. 1
Phil Currie's Christmas Turkeyp. 3
Lost Worldsp. 29
Part 2 Patagoniap. 55
To the Rio Negrop. 57
Theropod Heavenp. 75
Desert Rainp. 103
Overburdenp. 119
Beyond the Dusty Universep. 139
The Living Screenp. 163
Part 3 The Badlandsp. 179
The Call of the Wakon Birdp. 181
A Day at the Bone Museump. 205
Dry Islandp. 227
The Fossil Songp. 253
Ghost Birdsp. 273