Stephen Brusatte, Science Writing

Along with my work as an academic, I am also a science writer. My enthusiasm for writing goes back to my previous life as a journalist. While in high school and college I worked summers and holidays as a sports and features reporter for my hometown newspaper, the Times in Ottawa, Illinois. I got to do cool things like interview Tiger Woods and Pete Rose, cover professional PGA golf and NASCAR racing events, and learn to write lots of short, snappy articles on deadline. If I weren't a scientist I probably would have pursued journalism as a career. I keep my love of wordcrafting alive by writing stories, articles, and books for both academic and public audiences.

Adult Narrative Non-fiction


In April 2018 I published my first adult pop science book. It's a narrative nonfiction book, called The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, and it tells the story of dinosaur evolution. Where they came from, how they rose up to dominance, how some of them became huge and others evolved feathers and turned into birds, and how the rest of them went extinct. Throughout, the dinosaurs' story is intertwined with my own stories of traveling the world doing fieldwork, discovering dinosaurs, and studying dinosaurs with a fantastic group of diverse colleagues, particularly younger paleontologists of my generation. The US version is published by William Morrow (a division of HarperCollins) and the UK version is published by Macmillan. There will also be Brazilian, Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, and Russian editions as well. Copies can be ordered at Amazon (USA), Amazon (UK), and other book sellers.

The book was a New York Times Bestseller in the USA (peaked at #9 in Science), Sunday Times Bestseller in the UK (top 10 in general hardcover nonfiction) and Globe and Mail Bestseller in Canada (top 10 in overall nonfiction). As part of the promotion for the book, I took the CBS This Morning television crew to the Isle of Skye, appeared on Science Friday on NPR and 1a on NPR, was interviewed by National Geographic, and I wrote a few commentary pieces for CNN, Entertainment Weekly, and Salon.

So far the reviews have been positive. The New York Times said 'You're going to love The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. Brusatte skillfully brings dead dino bones to life...his collection of personal stories and characters make his book special.' The Washington Post called it 'scintillating' and said that 'Brusatte's mastery of his field, formidable explanatory powers, and engaging style have combined to produce a masterpiece of science writing for the lay reader.' Publishers Weekly described it as 'first-rate science writing for the general public', Booklist said it was 'popular-science writing at its best', and Kirkus Reviews summarized it as a 'must-have for fans of ancient reptiles and their lost world.' The Paris Review called it 'one big adventure', Scientific American dubbed it 'the ultimate dinosaur biography', and Nature said it was 'science writing at its most visceral.' The Sunday Times deemed it 'triumphant' and 'the best book (on dinosaurs) for the general reader since the 1980s'. The Times called it 'a lovely book...a fine piece of writing that drags the dinosaurs out of museums and reanimates them for a new generation,' whereas the Observer called it 'a Jurassic blockbuster. A gripping read in the best traditions of popular science (and) infectiously ebullient'. The Christian Science Monitor said that it was 'an absorbing historical saga. A completely winning blend of technical expertise and storytelling ability.' The Literary Review said '(Brusatte) has the knack of summarizing a story in a few deft strokes. His tales have a freshness and an engaging immediacy.' The Spectator described it as 'a vibrant view of dinosaurs' and that 'Brusatte is an adept scientific storyteller.' The Washington Times said 'Brusatte does for dinosaurs what E.O. Wilson did for ants and Carl Sagan for stars, making them more accessible and appealing.'

Neil Shubin (author of Your Inner Fish) says: '
Steve Brusatte's Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a triumph. Written by one of our young leaders of the field, he brings new discoveries, a taste for a good yarn, and his infectious enthusiasm to some of the epic tales of paleontology. It is hard to read Brusatte and not love lost worlds'. Carl Zimmer (author of Parasite rex) says: 'Steve Brusatte is doing some of the most exciting research on dinosaurs today, and he brings that excitement to The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. Whether he's recounting remarkable fossil discoveries or explainingmillions of years of evolutionary change, Brusatte shows just how muchour understanding of dinosaurs has changed in just the past decade.'

A big thanks to the amazing team behind the book: my editors Peter Hubbard and Robin Harvie, the marketing and publicity staff at HarperCollins and Macmillan, and my literary agent Jane von Mehren of Aevitas.


Academic Books
My first academic book, Dinosaur Paleobiology, was published by Wiley-Blackwell in May 2012. The study of dinosaurs has been experiencing a remarkable renaissance over the past few decades. Scientific understanding of dinosaur anatomy, biology, and evolution has advanced to such a degree that paleontologists often know more about 100–million–year–old dinosaurs than many species of living organisms. This book provides a contemporary review of dinosaur science intended for students, researchers, and dinosaur enthusiasts. It reviews the latest knowledge on dinosaur anatomy and phylogeny, how dinosaurs functioned as living animals, and the grand narrative of dinosaur evolution across the Mesozoic. A particular focus is on the fossil evidence and explicit methods that allow paleontologists to study dinosaurs in rigorous detail. Scientific knowledge of dinosaur biology and evolution is shifting fast, and this book aims to summarize current understanding of dinosaur science in a technical, but accessible, style, supplemented with vivid photographs and illustrations. For more information, see the book's homepage on Wiley-Blackwell's website and this review by Dr. Heinrich Mallison. The book can also be ordered from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

The book has received highly positive reviews. It was "highly recommended" by Choice magazine, who said that "anyone serious about learning details of dinosaur biology would do no better than to read this book." Writing in Geological Journal, Paul Barrett said that the book is "currently the best (dinosaur textbook) on the market." In Historical Biology, Jim Farlow described the book as "a splendid text" that is "one of the most useful books in my personal library." David Norman, writing in Geological Magazine, commented that he could "unhesitatingly recommend (the book)" to his own undergraduates and postgraduate students. In the Paleontological Society's Priscum newsletter, Bret Bennington praised it as "a reference work of wide-ranging technical expertise that reads like a good piece of science journalism."







Children's Books and other Popular Books

I wrote my first book, Stately Fossils, while I was in high school. It was published in 2002 by Fossil News magazine, a wonderful monthly publication for avocational paleontologists published by my friend Lynne Clos. It describes the official state fossils and state dinosaurs of the various US states that have designated such symbols. My second book, the large coffee table tome Dinosaurs, was published in 2008 by Quercus in London. It has been billed as the physically largest book on dinosaurs ever published, weighing in at nearly 10 pounds and with a cover measuring some 17 by 14 inches. Always glad to add to the hyperbole associated with dinosaurs, and it's ironic that a scrawny guy like me would write THE biggest book on dinosaurs. My third book, Field Guide to Dinosaurs, was published in August 2009 by Quercus. It is aimed for a younger audience, and recreates a Mesozoic safari in which the reader can observe dinosaurs from the safety of a armored vehicle equipped with powerful telescopes and the like. My fourth tome is the Walking With Dinosaurs 3D Encyclopedia, a companion book to the WWD 3D film that was released in December 2013 and published by HarperCollins. My fifth book is Day of the Dinosaurs, published in September 2016 by Wide Eyed Editions (Quarto). It also is something of a field guide, but breaks the mold by including a lot of newly discovered dinosaurs and through the amazing, dystopian-style art from Daniel Chester. I was thrilled that the National Science Teachers Association named it an 'Outstanding Science Book' for K-12 children in 2017! My sixth and most recent book is Pinocchio rex and Other Tyrannosaurs, co-authored with the fantastic children's author Melissa Stewart and published by HarperCollins in late 2017.


Contributions and Consultancy
I
've also contributed to several other books as a writer, consultant, and fact checker. Chief among these is the wonderful Dorling Kindersley encyclopedia Prehistoric Life (2009), for which I wrote several entries. I was also a consultant and writer for DK's Eyewitness: Prehistoric Life book (2012) and wrote the DK children's quiz book Were Stegosaurs Carnivores? (2012).








Popular Science Magazines
I love writing stories about science--both about my own research and about big themes in paleontology and evolutionary biology. Some of my pieces have found their way into popular science magazines. I write regularly for Scientific American. Thus far I have published four articles there. My first article was the cover story in the May 2015 issue, which described how new discoveries are rewriting the story of tyrannosaur evolution. This story told the epic tale of how T. rex became the King of the Dinosaurs, with the unexpected twist that tyrannosaurs were mostly marginal, human-sized animals living in the understory before evolving huge size and becoming apex predators like T. rex right before an asteroid snuffed out the Age of Dinosaurs 66 million years ago. My second article was a piece in the December 2015 issue on how new research is finally helping us answer the age-old riddle of why the dinosaurs went extinct. My third piece was the cover story in the June 2016 issue, which told the story of how mammals rose up from insignificant creatures under the feet of dinosaurs to the wildly successful animals they (we) are today. My fourth and most recent piece, in the January 2017 issue, looks at the evolutionary transition between dinosaurs and birds and how research on this subject is giving insight into how evolution produces entirely new types of organisms.

I also write for other publications. These include BBC Focus (which published my article on 'unsolved mysteries' about dinosaurs on the cover of the January 2017 issue), Highlights for Children (which published my article on tracking dinosaurs in Scotland in the September 2017 issue), BA High Life Magazine, and Whizz Pop Bang.


Science Commentary
I have written several articles for The Conversation, an excellent website that provides commentary on current events and other topical issues, from an academic perspective but presented to a general audience. Most of my pieces are commentaries on new dinosaur discoveries and important new research in paleontology and evolutionary biology. A complete list of my articles can be found on my author page. Some of my pieces thus far have looked at the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds, the question of why some dinosaurs were so large (based on new discoveries of colossal sauropods), the avalanche of new dinosaur discoveries in recent years, the discovery of a spectacular new marine reptile in Scotland, the controversy over the Natural History Museum taking their Diplodocus skeleton off of display, the discovery of a giant ancient amphibian in Portugal, the resurrection of the name Brontosaurus, my work on the T. rex Autopsy TV program, my work on a new species of feathered dinosaur, my work on a new species of mammal that thrived after the dinosaurs went extinct, our discovery of the new primitive tyrannosaur Timurlengia. My Conversation piece about Brontosaurus was picked up by the IFL website.

I have also started to write for the website Quartz. My pieces thus far have looked at how fast Tyrannosaurus rex could run.


Amateur Paleontology Magazines
I learned a lot about dinosaurs and paleontology by writing articles for Fossil News, Prehistoric Times, Dinosaur World, Dino Press, and other amateur paleontology publications while in high school. I continue to write for Prehistoric Times, and each December I write a review of the year's most incredible paleontology discoveries. This is always a lot of fun, as it gives me the chance to not only remember the year's best finds, but also write for an audience comprised primarily of paleoartists and amateur collectors. For a long while I wrote a monthly "kids corner" column for Fossil News, aimed at middle school and high school teachers and students. This evolved into my first book, Stately Fossils.
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