For Your Bookshelf: The Dinosaur Project by Wayne Grady

      Having been on parental leave for the last two months, I’ve found myself with a little extra time (if you can believe it) to catch up on some reading. One of the books I tackled is an oldie but a goodie: Wayne Grady’s The Dinosaur Project, published by MacFarlane Walter & Ross Press in 1993. I remember skimming through this book when I was younger, but I’m glad that I returned to it. The book recounts the story of the Canada-China Dinosaur Project that took place between 1985 and 1991. The Project involved Brian Noble of the Ex Terra Foundation, Dong Zhiming from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Philip Currie from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Dale Russell from the Canadian Museum of Nature, and their respective crews. Together, these teams combined their efforts to uncover a bevy of new fossils from Canada, China, and Mongolia, thereby revealing the faunal relationships of these countries in deep time.

The Dinosaur Project book cover

      I managed to sneak in my fieldwork back in June before my new baby was born, and I wish I had read The Dinosaur Project before then. Grady does an excellent job of conveying the joys of fieldwork, and reading his book made me desperately long for the field again (now I’ve got to wait a year!). Highlights include the discovery of hadrosaurid eggs in Devil’s Coulee, Alberta, of a partial mamenchisaur skeleton in the Junggar Basin of Xinjiang, and of a cluster of several juvenile ankylosaur skeletons in Bayan Mandahu, Mongolia. But by far Grady’s greatest strength is his ability to interweave scientific and historical narratives, which enables him to expound not just the thrill of discovery, but the paleontological significance of those finds. The Dinosaur Project is set against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square incident, which serves to underscore the importance of scientific collaboration between the eastern and western world.

      It is with wholehearted enthusiasm that I recommend this book to paleo-lovers from all walks of life, young and old, professional and amateur. The Project is still disclosing the results of its finds, but many of the most important scientific papers have conveniently been gathered together in a few issues of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (here, here, and here). It has now been nearly 25 years since the official end of the Canada-China Dinosaur Project, but with such significant and long-lasting reverberations, it’s little wonder that Grady promotes it as “the greatest dinosaur expedition ever mounted”.
Posted: 8/31/2015 12:00:00 AM by host | with 0 comments
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