What bugged the dinosaurs? Poor research

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thanks to Jonah Choiniere who is currently on a long term trip to the IVPP I was able to get my hands on “What bugged the dinosaurs?” this week. A recent book by husband and wife team George & Roberta Poinar, it puports to show how insects and diseases wiped out the dinosaurs (or so the hype went). I have wanted to read this for a while as the premise seemed intriguing, if very far fetched. However, as you may have guessed from the title above, I was far from impressed.

The book is a myriad of overstated and / or unsupported claims, poor English (they might be non-native speakers, but both work in the US and this is their third book in the language!), and most startlingly a frightening lack of knowledge about dinosaurs. Some 27 people are listed in the acknowledgements and not one do I recognise as working on dinosaurs, and it shows.

Worse than that, it seems like even the authors did not bother to do any research on the subject and the errors are numerous and obvious. If you are working well outside your field, you need to do the work, or get help and there is no evidence that either occured.

The thrust of the book is of course about ancient insects (and other parasites) and pathogens something the authors do work on, but of course in order to relate it to the dinosaurs, they will need to know about them and get their facts right, and here they fail badly. In most cases, I doubt the corrections would have made much difference to their arguments, but the errors are so frequent and obvious, it makes one wonder about how the rest of it was put together, and some of the arguements are incredibly tenuous.

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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