Scientific American FSG Books


My Beloved Brontosaurus

My Beloved Brontosaurus

Brian Switek


NPR's essay on My Beloved Brontosaurus and the disappearance of the dinosaurs

“For the last hundred years, scientists have been wondering why the dinosaurs disappeared so quickly. Was there one key reason, or several?

Volcanologists pointed to volcanoes. Climatologists suggested global warming, or possibly, global cooling. Ocean experts thought the oceans receded. Some biologists blamed egg snatching mammals. Some botanists suggested toxic plants. In his new book on everything dinosaurish, My Beloved Brontosaurus, Brian Switek lists a ‘slew of weird ideas’ proposed by various scientists 50, 60 years ago, before our current favorite, the asteroid theory, gained favor . . . Of all the theories he looked at, Brian's favorite is so wonderful to think about, so deeply odd (even if it's almost certainly wrong), I want to retell it. It comes from a California scientist, Stanley Flanders, who made his living as an entomologist, an insect man, which is perhaps why, in 1962, he wrote a paper called, ‘Did the Caterpillar Exterminate the Giant Reptile?’ Dr. Flanders proposed that the great dinosaurs were eliminated by a giant influx of moths and butterflies.


I'm not making this up.”


Read the full essay here.

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