The most recommended paleontology books

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to paleontology, and here are their favorite paleontology books.
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Book cover of Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings

Steven Clark Cunningham Author Of Dinosaur Name Poems/Poemas de Nombres de Dinosaurios

From my list on dinosaurs with poetry, pop-up, and paleontology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am, like so many other young people (yes, I still think of myself as young!), fascinated with dinosaurs and prehistory, and have been for as long as I can remember. What I really find interesting and engaging is the combination of the fact that they do not exist anymore and therefore are otherworldly with the fact that they are real and actually of this world!

Steven's book list on dinosaurs with poetry, pop-up, and paleontology

Steven Clark Cunningham Why did Steven love this book?

What I really love about this book is the use of poetry and original and engaging illustrations to invite kids into reading. My favorite poem is “Barosaurus,” which does a particularly good job of inviting the young readers to engage their imagination with the book. While not my favorite Douglas Florian book, it is, like the other books from this very talented author and illustrator, well worth the read!

By Douglas Florian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dinothesaurus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

This book is full of dinosaurs,

Both carnivores and herbivores.

You'll find a big Iguanodon,

As well as a clever Tro-o-don.

There's Spinosaurus and T. rex,

Plus plesiosaurs with giant necks,

And others from an ancient age.

Want to learn more?

Then turn the page!


Book cover of Evolving Planet: Four Billion Years of Life on Earth

Steven Clark Cunningham Author Of Dinosaur Name Poems/Poemas de Nombres de Dinosaurios

From my list on dinosaurs with poetry, pop-up, and paleontology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am, like so many other young people (yes, I still think of myself as young!), fascinated with dinosaurs and prehistory, and have been for as long as I can remember. What I really find interesting and engaging is the combination of the fact that they do not exist anymore and therefore are otherworldly with the fact that they are real and actually of this world!

Steven's book list on dinosaurs with poetry, pop-up, and paleontology

Steven Clark Cunningham Why did Steven love this book?

What I really love about this book is that 1) it is written by experts in the field, including a PhD evolutionary biologist and paleontologist, 2) it has an excellent balance of illustrations and text, and 3) it places dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in context as it tells the story of how they evolved through time.

By Erica Kelly, Richard Kissel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evolving Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Evolving Planet" is based on the new permanent exhibition of the same name at the Field Museum (opened in spring 2006). The book takes readers on an inspiring journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth, from single-celled organisms to towering dinosaurs to woolly mammoths to humans. Unique fossils, photographs, illustrations and maps help bring the story to life. It includes a pronunciation guide, glossary and index.


Book cover of I am not a Dinosaur!

S.K. Wenger Author Of Chicken Frank, Dinosaur!

From my list on dinosaurs and evolutionary relationships for kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before becoming an author and awarded science teacher, I was a child who explored the unpaved colonial roads in rural New Hampshire and brought home bucket loads of tadpoles, frogs, and turtles from nearby wetlands. I knew the rock walls that lined those roads had been placed by others who’d worked the land long before. My curiosity extended to wondering what the area had been like before humans started changing things. In retrospect, perhaps I wrote Chicken Frank, Dinosaur! in part for that backwoods girl full of questions about the world around her. Equally so, it’s for every curious child—even those who aren’t sure about dipping their toes into the mud just yet. Enjoy!

Shaunda's book list on dinosaurs and evolutionary relationships for kids

S.K. Wenger Why did Shaunda love this book?

From the lizard-looking Dimetrodon to the wooly mammoth to the 1,000-pound turtle-like Glyptodont, as well as the modern-day Latimeria fish species that was believed to have gone extinct millions of years ago (Surprise! It turned up in a fisherman’s net!), puts this book in the “must-read” category. A bouncy rhyming text that highlights large creatures that roamed the Earth both before and alongside dinosaurs, makes this book a win, especially since it lands at a modern-day avian dinosaur that can be seen in tweety parakeet.

By Will Lach, Jonny Lambert (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I am not a Dinosaur! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Way back in time, astonishing creatures lived on our planet. But they weren’t all dinosaurs! In this fun, fascinating book, you’ll meet some of these amazing prehistoric creatures, from a very big fish with 7-inch teeth to a flying reptile. Based on specimens in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, I Am NOT a Dinosaur! uses riddle-like rhymes and bright illustrations to reveal 16 creatures. With an introduction from Chairman of Paleontology at the Museum, Dr. Mark Norell, the book also features short notes, fossil photos, and an illustrated timeline to explain everything, simply and clearly, to…


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

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

From my list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Michael's book list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist

Michael J. Benton Why did Michael love 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!

By Steve Brusatte,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Times Science Book of the Year.
A Sunday Times Bestseller.

66 million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today, Dr. Steve Brusatte, one of the leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters, armed with cutting edge technology, is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years.

The world of the dinosaurs has fascinated on book and screen for decades - from early science fiction classics like The Lost World, to Godzilla terrorizing the streets of Tokyo, and the monsters of Jurassic Park. But…


Book cover of Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist

Debbie Dadey Author Of Never Give Up: Dr. Kati Kariko and the Race for the Future of Vaccines

From my list on women who wouldn’t give up.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, I’ve been tempted many times to stop writing. After all, it’s hard. Will anyone ever read this? Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing after all. Then I read stories like the ones I’ve mentioned here. Four of them are about real women who would not give up, even in the face of much adversity. I admire people who have that conviction and strength. It gives me the courage to keep trying-just like they did.

Debbie's book list on women who wouldn’t give up

Debbie Dadey Why did Debbie love this book?

This story tells how Mary Anning found amazing fossils and became an expert on the subject, even when many people thought women shouldn’t be scientists.

Mary was never given the credit she deserved, but it didn’t stop her from doing what she loved. While it upsets me that she was often overlooked because she was a woman, I admire her because she didn’t let others’ opinions keep her from the work she enjoyed and did so well.

By Linda Skeers, Marta Alvarez Miguens (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dinosaur Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A beautifully illustrated picture book biography of Mary Anning that will enlighten children about the discovery of the dinosaurs and the importance of female scientists, perfect for fans of The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

Mary Anning loved scouring the beach near her home in England for shells and fossils. She fearlessly climbed over crumbling cliffs and rocky peaks, searching for new specimens. One day, something caught Mary's eye.

Bones. Dinosaur Bones.

Mary's discoveries rocked the world of science and helped create a brand-new field of study: paleontology. But many people believed women couldn't be scientists, so Mary wasn't given…


Book cover of All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals

Dougal Dixon Author Of After Man: A Zoology of the Future

From my list on popular depiction of evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dougal Dixon graduated from the University of St. Andrews with two degrees in geology. But although his education was entirely scientific his background was deeply artistic – a potentially unemployable combination back in the ‘70s. And so he ended up in publishing, as the Earth Science editor for an illustrated encyclopedia publisher. Since then he has become a full-time writer, specializing in geological articles for encyclopedias, handbooks on fossil collecting, and principally children’s books on dinosaurs. As well as that he has done a number of books on speculative evolution – exploring the principles of biology in novel ways.

Dougal's book list on popular depiction of evolution

Dougal Dixon Why did Dougal love this book?

The reason that many dinosaur restorations are inaccurate is mostly because the artists base them only on the bones and skeletons. In an interesting exercise the authors and artists here have taken modern animals and imagined how future palaeontologists would illustrate them on the same basis. An elephant has no trunk (the soft musclular material would not have fossilized). A humming bird is a vampire (its long narrow beak looks so much like a hypodermic needle). A manatee is a pig-like animal grazing on upland meadows (or so we would surmise if we only knew of its skull). As a contrast they take the traditional view of fossil animals and make perfectly reasonable predictions of their behaviour based on modern animal lifestyles. Hypsilophodon eats millipedes (although it was definitely a vegetarian - but most modern vegetarian animals eat the occasional meaty snack). Protoceratops climbs trees (although its feet show it…

By John Conway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Yesterdays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Yesterdays is a book about the way we see dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Lavishly illustrated with over sixty original artworks, All Yesterdays aims to challenge our notions of how prehistoric animals looked and behaved. As a critical exploration of palaeontological art, All Yesterdays asks questions about what is probable, what is possible, and what is commonly ignored. Written by palaeozoologist Darren Naish, and palaeontological artists John Conway and C.M. Kosemen, All Yesterdays is scientifically rigorous and artistically imaginative in its approach to fossils of the past - and those of the future.


Book cover of Ravished

Carolyn Jewel Author Of Scandal: A Regency Historical Romance

From my list on historical romances to warm your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading historical romance since I was a teen and writing it since I published my first historical romance in 1987. Since then I’ve written over forty romance novels, short stories, and novellas, many of which are historical romances. I adore history and research is never a chore for me. Graduate school and a project on Eleanore Sleath, an English author of Horrid Novels from the early 19th century, honed the research skills that I bring to my historical novels. There are times when readers need the certainty of the happy ending that Romance promises, and I love delivering on that promise in all my books. I hope everyone finds a new author to love from this list!

Carolyn's book list on historical romances to warm your heart

Carolyn Jewel Why did Carolyn love this book?

Another favorite romance trope of mine is Beauty and the Beast, and Quick gives us The Beast of Blackthorn Hall paired with a paleontologist heroine who brooks no nonsense, especially from the Beast. The poor man doesn’t understand how outmatched he is until it’s too late. There are caves, dinosaur fossils, smugglers, the ocean tide, and the wonderful road to love for two characters who really, truly, need each other. The dialogue absolutely sparkles. Amanda Quick is a pen name for NYT bestselling author Jayne-Ann Krentz.  

By Amanda Quick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ravished as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the cozy confines of a tiny seaside village to the glittering crush of the a fashionable London soiree comes an enthralling tale of a thoroughly mismatched couple . . . poised to discover the rapture of love.

There was no doubt about it. What Miss Harriet Pomeroy needed was a man. Someone powerful and clever who could help her rout the unscrupulous thieves who were using her beloved caves to hide their loot. But when Harriet summoned Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, to her aid, she could not know that she was summoning the devil himself. . . .…


Book cover of Sand: The Never-Ending Story

Mike X Cohen Author Of Linear Algebra: Theory, Intuition, Code

From my list on for people who can’t read five books on the same topic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an associate professor of neuroscience at the Donders Institute in the Netherlands. My research lab focuses on discovering how the brain uses electrical signaling to compute information, and transfer information across different regions of the brain. I also have a few decades of experience teaching scientific coding, data analysis, statistics, and related topics, and have authored several online courses and textbooks. I have a suspiciously dry sense of humor and insufficient patience to read five books on the same topic.

Mike's book list on for people who can’t read five books on the same topic

Mike X Cohen Why did Mike love this book?

Sand (yes, that grainy stuff at the beach that never fully gets out of your shoes) is a ubiquitous feature of dream-vacations, and yet is a really obscure topic to study. Michael Welland managed to present a fascinating and thought-provoking story of where sand comes from and where it goes. But this book isn’t only about sand; it is about the unimaginable timescales of geology and how a countless number of tiny grains can fill nearly 400,000 miles of beaches, not to mention deserts, ocean floors, and volcanos. Welland’s writing style is poetic and flowing, and overall a joy to read.

By Michael Welland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years in the past to the future, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest, most powerful, and most ubiquitous materials. Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, "Sand" examines the science - sand forensics, the physics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, planetary exploration - and at the same time explores the rich human context of sand.Interwoven with tales of artists, mathematicians, explorers, and even a vampire, the story of…


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

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

From my list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Michael's book list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist

Michael J. Benton Why did Michael love 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.

By Dean R. Lomax, Robert Nicholls,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Locked in Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fossils allow us to picture the forms of life that inhabited the earth eons ago. But we long to know more: how did these animals actually behave? We are fascinated by the daily lives of our fellow creatures-how they reproduce and raise their young, how they hunt their prey or elude their predators, and more. What would it be like to see prehistoric animals as they lived and breathed?

From dinosaurs fighting to their deaths to elephant-sized burrowing ground sloths, this book takes readers on a global journey deep into the earth's past. Locked in Time showcases fifty of the…


Book cover of Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution

Graham Shields Author Of Born of Ice and Fire: How Glaciers and Volcanoes (with a Pinch of Salt) Drove Animal Evolution

From my list on science in action written by scientists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist who has worked at the coal face of the debate around the origin of animals and ‘Snowball Earth’ his entire career, using a combination of experimental and descriptive science. Over three decades, I have witnessed first-hand how careful attention to detail in study after study has removed doubt from once provocative, even crazy, ideas that are now widely accepted. I love reading popular science from the perspective of the hands-on scientist who has witnessed the debate first-hand and contributed to received knowledge by conceiving new experiments, amassing data, and, more than often, in entirely unexpected ways through sheer curiosity.

Graham's book list on science in action written by scientists

Graham Shields Why did Graham love this book?

I love this book because of the author’s infectious passion for fossils and geology. 

The book reads like a detective story, with the innermost secrets of long-extinct animal groups unveiled bit by bit by a master of forensic paleontology.

When I was an undergraduate student over 40 years ago, Richard showed us behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum in London. What I remember most was him describing how long it took his team to reveal just one trilobite eye. Only after many months of painstaking attention to detail were they finally able to work out how a trilobite saw the world 500 million years ago.

By Richard Fortey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Trilobite as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With Trilobite, Richard Fortey, paleontologist and author of the acclaimed Life, offers a marvelously written, smart and compelling, accessible and witty scientific narrative of the most ubiquitous of fossil creatures.

Trilobites were shelled animals that lived in the oceans over five hundred million years ago. As bewilderingly diverse then as the beetle is today, they survived in the arctic or the tropics, were spiky or smooth, were large as lobsters or small as fleas. And because they flourished for three hundred million years, they can be used to glimpse a less evolved world of ancient continents and vanished oceans. Erudite…