The Great Dinosaur Controversy
A Guide to the Debates
by Keith M. Parsons
December 2003, 294pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-922-5
$94, £70, 79€, A135
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-923-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

From the moment scientists first conceived of dinosaurs in the 1820s, the field of dinosaur paleontology has crackled with furious feuds and fever-pitch debates—arguments that continue today as scientists clash over everything from how these extraordinary creatures died to the possibility that their evolutionary offspring still roam (or fly over) the earth.

A historical review of the most important scientific controversies that have shaped our knowledge of dinosaurs since the discovery of important fossils in the 1820s.

In The Great Dinosaur Controversy: A Guide to the Debates, the major scientific disputes that have contributed to the understanding of dinosaurs come to light. Each chapter presents a major controversy then ponders the lessons learned and their impact on the scientific field.

Colorful characters such as “anti-evolutionist” Robert Owen, “Darwin’s bulldog,” T.H. Huxley, and “dinosaur heretic” Robert Bakker, enliven the debates, which range from the origin of dinosaurs and their posture to their evolution or retrogression and whether they were warm- or cold-blooded. Two of the most recent debates concern how dinosaurs became extinct and whether or not birds are their descendents.


  • Introductory chapter on the role of controversy in science focusing on the contributions of scientists such as Edward Cope and T. H. Huxley
  • Illustrations of the major figures involved in the debates
Keith Parsons is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Houston Clear Lake, Houston, TX.


"The text is accurate, and the presentation is well balanced . . . A useful addition to public and college libraries. Recommended. General readers and undergraduates."—Choice, June 1, 2004

"[A] handy one-stop source for students."—VOYA, June 1, 2004

"[A]ccurate, and well-focused . . . This is an absorbing book. While a good review for the dinosaur specialist, it is particularly well written and captivating for the general reader overwhelmed by the abundance of movies, television specials, and books about dinosaurs."—American Reference Books Annual, March 1, 2005
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