________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 1 . . . . September 6, 2002

cover Ornithomimus: Pursuing the Bird-Mimic Dinosaur. (Discoveries in Paleontology).

Monique Keiran.
Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books, 2001.
56 pp., cloth, $26.95.
ISBN 1-55192-348-3.

Subject Headings:

Grades 8-12 / Ages 14-18.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4


Dinosaur Provincial Park is famous for fossils of dinosaurs that lived 74 to 76 million years ago, during the late Cetaceous period. More than 40 dinosaur species have been discovered there in the last 100 years since paleontologists first came to the area. Of these discoveries, almost 500 are complete or nearly complete skeletons. This is an astonishing number - most dinosaur fossils found elsewhere are single bones, parts or jumbled bones of many animals. Because of the variety, number and quality of preservation of bones found there, many paleontologists believe the park to be the best dinosaur-fossil site in the world.

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Monique Keiran, author of Albertosaurus: Death of a Predator, has worked and taught at Drumheller, Alberta' s world-renowned Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology for many years. In her new book, she recounts the surprising discovery, the excavation, and mounting of a full fossilized skeleton of a small meat eating dinosaur named Ornithomimus, a member of the class known as Ornithomimids, which means "bird mimic." This class of dinosaurs shared many characteristics of modern birds and is believed to be the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. Kieran explains what unknown secrets may be revealed to the scientists studying life in the Cretaceous era, and she dramatically reconstructs the struggles the relatively small toothless dinosaur faced in a world populated with the huge predatory Tyrannosaurus Rex and Albertosaurus. Because their bones are fragile, a discovery of an intact skeleton is very rare, and Keiran describes the scientists' cautious excavation and preservation of the delicate fossilized creature. By analyzing the fossil remains, she explains how the paleontologists can determine what food the dinosaur consumed, its age, its intelligence, how fast the dinosaur could run to avoid being eaten and even speculate as to the reason it died. Students of all ages will be thrilled and intrigued by the stories Keiran tells in her "Bird-Mimic Chronicles." She vividly portrays Ornithomimus's hunting techniques, its mating rituals, and how it might have used its speed and intelligence to avoid its enemies. As well, her fantastic photographs of the Alberta Badlands, where the skeleton was discovered, contrast scientific speculations of life 74-76 million years go with the barren eroded landscapes seen today. Generally speaking, however, this book will be most useful for older keen students who want to delve more deeply into the world of paleontology, and for teachers who want a more sophisticated understanding of dinosaur life. Although Kieran writes clearly, in fact clearer than many other scientific writers, the text's language and treatment of modern theories of Ornithomimus evolution are detailed and complex.


Ian Stewart teaches in Winnipeg No.1 School Division.

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ISSN 1201-9364