Millions of years ago in the Cretaceous period, the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex--with its dagger-like teeth for tearing its prey to ribbons--was undoubtedly the fiercest carnivore to roam the Earth. Yet as What Bugged the Dinosaurs? reveals, T. rex was not the only killer. George and Roberta Poinar show how insects--from biting sand flies to disease-causing parasites--dominated life on the planet and played a significant role in the life and death of the dinosaurs.
The Poinars bring the age of the dinosaurs marvelously to life. Analyzing exotic insects fossilized in Cretaceous amber at three major deposits in Lebanon, Burma, and Canada, they reconstruct the complex ecology of a hostile prehistoric world inhabited by voracious swarms of insects. The Poinars draw upon tantalizing new evidence from their amazing discoveries of disease-producing vertebrate pathogens in Cretaceous blood-sucking flies, as well as intestinal worms and protozoa found in fossilized dinosaur excrement, to provide a unique view of how insects infected with malaria, leishmania, and other pathogens, together with intestinal parasites, could have devastated dinosaur populations.
A scientific adventure story from the authors whose research inspired Jurassic Park, What Bugged the Dinosaurs?? offers compelling evidence of how insects directly and indirectly contributed to the dinosaurs' demise.
"[An] ambitious foray. . . . The excellent colour pictures of fossil insects in Cretaceous amber are spectacular and evocative. This book shows that bloodsucking insects were well-established in the age of dinosaurs . . . it is in the area of parasites and pathogens that this book startles. This book . . . opens doors and invites questions . . . and the accounts of the scientific endeavours cannot fail to impress."--Gaden Robinson, Times Literary Supplement
"[A] detailed study of insects' role in the life and extinction of Cretaceous plants and animals. In scientific but straightforward language, the Poinars advance convincingly the thesis that insects acted as vectors for pathogens, spreading bacteria, fungi and viruses to plants as well as dinosaurs, who then passed it on to others. Using current examples like Dutch elm disease, speculative scenarios of Cretaceous life and plenty of research data, the authors add an intriguing new dimension to the dinosaur apocalypse narrative: periods of temperature change, marine regression, volcanic eruptions, and one or more meteor impacts. . . . A perfect setting for the spread of diseases."--Publishers Weekly
"Dinosaurs are usually portrayed as the pristine masters of the Cretaceous. George and Roberta Poinar's new book presents a different view--dinosaurs besieged by swarms of insects; dinosaurs with oozing, infected bites; dinosaurs weakened by parasite-induced illnesses. What Bugged the Dinosaurs? draws on the Poinars' many studies of fossils in amber to show how dinosaurs interacted with their more abundant invertebrate contemporaries. Reconstructing ancient ecosystems is an ambitious undertaking. Integrative approaches such as those in What Bugged the Dinosaurs? help us build up more sophisticated visions of the past."--Karen Chin, Nature
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