If you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you know Robert Bakker. He served as the movie’s consultant. He is also one of the premier dinosaur experts in the modern world. In "The Dinosaur Heresies," Dr. Bakker sets out to correct decades of misconceptions regarding dinosaurs. At more than four hundred pages long, there is a lot of information for the reader to sort through. Beautifully crisp drawings (done by the author himself) make the task a little less daunting, as does the writing style, which is clear yet stylistic.At my first reading of the entry from his field book in chapter two I was an astronomy major in college. Bakker’s words actually compelled me to switch my major from physics to geological studies just so I could experience what he did on the quarry’s rim.
Among the subjects the reader will be forced to think about are whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded or warm-blooded and how dinosaurs are related to birds. Modern filmmakers have harped on these questions so much now that the questions seem pointless. But when this book was released in 1986 there was a lot of controversy over the subject. It seemed people just couldn’t get the idea of a sluggish, dull-brained dinosaur out of their heads.
Another mystery Bakker delves into is the mass extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period. This is probably the most talked-about single event in natural history, and Bakker goes through many of the theories regarding this extinction with extreme thoroughness--dramatic climate changes, the catastrophic collision of an asteriod, illness--before proposing his own theory that the extinction was the result of interchanging species over continents.
Whether you ultimately agree with any of the controversial theories Dr. Bakker has presented, there is no doubt that when you see an old model of a dinosaur in a museum you will wonder what kind of skin and what kind of personality fits over those bones.