Twenty-first century books 2013

ISBN 9780761354888

64 pp. hardcover

Grades 6-12

In the 1880s, Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, forever changing the way people viewed the history of life on Earth. Around the same time, some of the first dinosaur fossils were discovered, and the field of paleontology–the study of ancient plants and animals–emerged. In the late nineteenth century, a bitter rivalry between two American paleontologists, Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, led to national notoriety, scientific schisms, and, ultimately, to many landmark discoveries about dinosaurs and other forms of prehistoric life that provided concrete evidence for evolutionary change. 

Reviews & Awards

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Missouri State Teacher’s Association Reading Circle Selection, Winner, 2014


“This entry in the Scientific Rivalries and Scandals series focuses on the bitter antagonism between two pioneering nineteenth-century paleontologists, Marsh and Cope. Their contentious rivalry to discover the largest and most unusual dinosaur fossils of the American West became known as the Bone Wars and was at the forefront of American science for decades. The moral of the story is clear, revealing how rivalry can be positive and detrimental. Both Marsh and Cope made several important discoveries in the race to preeminence, but they also made critical classification errors in their haste. Packed with photos, maps, and diagrams, this orange-and-gray-heavy book emphasizes the importance of the scientific method on evaluating hypotheses and the misconceptions that arise with shoddy research. Dinosaurs are a topic of interest for many kids, and this well-researched book provides a rare glimpse into the historiography of biological science via a strongly narrative style.”

School Library Journal

“These books showcase major scientific developments and the brutal competition behind the scenes. They are highly engaging accounts of researchers resorting to cheap shots, spying, and double crossing to take credit for pivotal discoveries. But they are also disturbing documentation of how ego can trump the greater good… Written cleanly and fluidly, these titles let the drama and occasional absurdity of the players’ actions speak for themselves.” 

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Copyright © 2023 Rebecca L. Johnson