The best books about dinosaurs from a palaeontologist

Michael J. Benton Author Of Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World
By Michael J. Benton

Who am I?

I’ve been mad about dinosaurs and ancient life since I was seven. I have been amazingly lucky to be able to develop a career as a professional palaeontologist and to be able to research and talk about the subject. We were first to show the original colours of dinosaur feathers, and this discovery provides a perfect way to open the discussion about how palaeontologists know what they say they know. In my books, I seek to amaze, amuse and inform. I have written many books, including pop science, textbooks, technical-scientific works, and books for children, and every year brings new discoveries to be transmitted to the world.


I wrote...

Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World

By Michael J. Benton, Bob Nicholls (illustrator),

Book cover of Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World

What is my book about?

Dinosaurs are not what you thought they were - or at least, they didn't look like you thought they did. This is a new visual guide to the world of the dinosaurs, showing how rapid advances in technology and amazing new fossil finds have changed the way we see dinosaurs forever. Stunning new illustrations from paleoartist Bob Nicholls display the latest and most exciting scientific discoveries in vibrant colour.

For the first time, we can claim that each illustration shows dinosaurs as they really were, each aspect of their skin or feathers, colours and patterns based on fossil evidence interpreted with the latest technology. Only 25 years ago, in 1996, the first dinosaur with feathers, Sinosauropteryx, was reported from China. Since then, thousands of amazing new specimens have come to light, and laboratory methods have improved enormously. Who says palaeontology is a dead, old discipline!

The books I picked & why

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Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History

By David E. Fastovsky, David B. Weishampel, John Sibbick (illustrator)

Book cover of Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History

Why this book?

This is the best textbook about dinosaurs. If you want to have all the latest information about the diversity of dinosaurs, how their bones are found and excavated, their history through time, all the key groups, how they are related to each other, and what we know about their life and times, this is the book. This is a tried and tested textbook, now in its fourth edition, but full of anecdotes, great text and great illustrations, many of them by the maestro, John Sibbick.


The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World

By Steve Brusatte,

Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World

Why this book?

The best seller of all time, a lively romp through dinosaur research (and researchers). This is for all readers, and you’ll be hooked by the lively, pacy text by Steve, as he hurtles from continent to continent, digging up bones from China to Poland, working on Tyrannosaurus rex and other great beasts in the basements of the world’s museums, and sharing with readers what it’s like to be a working paleontologist. For aspiring young bone-diggers, this is an inspiration, although it’s not like this all the time: paleontologists also sometimes have to mark student essays and fight with university systems to get their field trip costs refunded!


Locked in Time: Animal Behavior Unearthed in 50 Extraordinary Fossils

By Dean R. Lomax, Robert Nicholls,

Book cover of Locked in Time: Animal Behavior Unearthed in 50 Extraordinary Fossils

Why this book?

This is about dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts, but it’s unique and unusual. Author Dean Lomax has run to ground some of the most extraordinary fossils ever found, and artist Bob Nicholls turns them into stunning reconstructions. Here you can read about a beetle within a lizard within a snake, a giant beaver that made huge corkscrew burrows 3 meters deep, the mammal that ate dinosaurs, insects caught in the act of mating, and dinosaurs with cancer. What I like is that, weird and wonderful as each story may be, each is based strictly on the fossils and reasonable interpretations of those fossils. Dinosaurs may spark the imagination, but as scientists, it’s important to show people how we come to our conclusions, and that needs evidence and reason in a discussion.


Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual Guide to Prehistoric Animals

By Dorling Kindersley,

Book cover of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual Guide to Prehistoric Animals

Why this book?

We all love an illustrated book, and Dorling Kindersley has honed a special style over the years. They have produced many big dinosaur books, and this is the latest, with 440 large pages filled with close-up photographs of specimens, stunning restoration paintings, and even 3D imagery. As an author, I regret that DK specializes in books without authors, or written by anonymous collectives, but the end result is an amazing book, with more original photographs and images than any other.


Dinosaurs a Children's Encyclopedia

By Dorling Kindersley,

Book cover of Dinosaurs a Children's Encyclopedia

Why this book?

The books so far are more for adults than children, although many children show remarkable powers of reading and learning with any dinosaur book. But this one is aimed at children, and it’s comprehensive and up to date. Dinosaur fans love lists and catalogues, and they want a book that has everything. This is probably the best such book, and it packs in a huge amount of material into its 300 pages.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dinosaurs, paleontology, and evolution?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dinosaurs, paleontology, and evolution.

Dinosaurs Explore 53 books about dinosaurs
Paleontology Explore 17 books about paleontology
Evolution Explore 86 books about evolution

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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