Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Paleontologist and author. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, research associate and director of fossil hall renovation; Info-Quest Foundation, New York, NY, chief executive officer and director.
Mongolian Academy of Sciences.
What Color Is That Dinosaur? Questions, Answers, and Mysteries, illustrated by Stephen C. Quinn, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1994.
(With Mark A. Norell and Eugene S. Gaffney) Discovering the Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995, revised as Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.
(With Mark A. Norell) Searching for Velociraptor, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Next of Kin: Great Fossils at the American Museum of Natural History, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Timothy Rowe) The Mistaken Extinction: Dinosaur Evolution and the Origin of Birds, W. H. Freeman (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Mark A. Norell) A Nest of Dinosaurs: The Story of Oviraptor, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Luis Chiappe) The Tiniest Giants: Discovering Dinosaur Eggs, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Luis Chiappe) Walking on Eggs: The Astonishing Discovery of Thousands of Dinosaurs Eggs in the Badlands of Patagonia, Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.
Hell Creek, Montana: America's Key to the Prehistoric Past, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Lowell Dingus is an American geological paleontologist and author, and the president of InfoQuest, a nonprofit education and research foundation. Dingus served as the director of the fossil hall renovation at the American Museum of Natural History. He specializes in the study of stratigraphy, recording the distribution of different layers of rock on the earth's surface. Dingus also researches the time period when dinosaurs became extinct and mammals began to diversify. Dingus has written and coauthored books about dinosaurs as well as his expeditions.
In 1994 Dingus published What Color Is That Dinosaur? Questions, Answers, and Mysteries, a book that presents a wide-ranging view of dinosaurs, including basic information, theories of their extinction, and illustrations by Stephen C. Quinn. A reviewer for Appraisal called it "a lively informative book" written "with clarity and humor." Cathryn A Camper, reviewing the book for School Library Journal, wrote that "the information is current and accurate, if somewhat prosaic in its presentation."
In Searching for Velociraptor Dingus and coauthor Mark A. Norrell describe in detail the preparations and enormous efforts involved in conducting a paleontological expedition in a remote and barren site. They cover the careful stages of removing a fossil from the rocky matrix in which it is found as well as the techniques used to prepare fossils for eventual display. JoAnn Coburn, writing in Science Books & Films, called Searching for Velociraptor "an excellent and well-illustrated presentation of the complete story of collecting, preparing, studying, and exhibiting fossils."
In Next of Kin: Great Fossils at the American Museum of Natural History Dingus describes the holdings of the noted museum. He also argues that humans and bats have descended from the same ancestor because both have flexible ankles. In addition, the book describes the development of the museum, both physically and philosophically. Jeanne Davidson in Library Journal asserted that "the text is conversational and up-to-date and the photographs and illustrations copious and superb." Karen Mockler, writing in Earth, noted that "through Dingus's work, we see beyond our present-day roost on the evolutionary tree, near the other primates, to our distant cousins, those flying, fanged mammals."
Dingus coauthored The Mistaken Extinction: Dinosaur Evolution and the Origin of Birds with Timothy Rowe. In this book, the two paleontologists present their theory that dinosaurs are not extinct, because birds are descendants of the old lizards. They also discuss dinosaur evolution in considerable depth, including extensive material on the most significant dinosaur lineages. In addition, the authors trace the lineage of birds to the dinosaurs using a classification system called cladistics that rivals the current Linnean system. This nonextinction theory was first explored by Dingus in Discovering Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History.
John Nobel Wilford, reviewing The Mistaken Extinction for the New York Times Book Review, wrote that "even some paleontologists who accept a dinosaur-bird link may balk at classifying birds as latter-day dinosaurs. But Dingus and Rowe are spirited advocates." Wilford concluded that "if their richly illustrated book is perhaps too comprehensive for cover-to-cover reading, it is well organized to be used for years as a reference work on all kinds of dinosaur and bird lore." Library Journal reviewer Gloria Maxwell remarked that the book is "an exceptional contribution to the study of dinosaur extinction and the implications for our own future," while Earth contributor Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., stated that "the authors write in accessible language and present readers with relatively straightforward illustrations." Holtz concluded that the book is "an accurate and entertaining portrayal of science as a process."
In 1999 Dingus and Luis Chiappe went to Patagonia in search of ancient bird and dinosaur fossils. What they found instead was a huge dinosaur nesting site. The two became the first to discover the fossils of sauropod embryos. Dingus and Chiappe write about their expedition in The Tiniest Giants: Discovering Dinosaur Eggs, and elaborate further on their discoveries in Walking on Eggs: The Astonishing Discovery of Thousands of Dinosaur Eggs in the Badlands of Patagonia. The eighty-million-year-old nests proved conclusively that sauropod dinosaurs laid eggs. Remarkably, the embryos also yielded some extremely well-preserved bones, a skull, and samples of skin, the first ever discovered. The knobby, bumpy skin appears similar to the beaded hide of a Gila monster. Perhaps most importantly, the skin samples do not display feathers, a fact that serves as evidence against the theory that dinosaurs evolved into modern-day birds. John J. Ernissee, writing in Rocks & Minerals, observed that Walking on Eggs "is rather low-key in its presentation. But if one reads attentively, the dedicated effort in spite of the heat, insects, and primitive working and living conditions becomes obvious. So also does the excitement of the discoveries."
Dingus's Hell Creek, Montana: America's Key to the Prehistoric Past provides a local history of the badlands in and around Hell Creek, Montana. The region is arguably one of the richest fossil-hunting areas in the world. The best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton discovery occurred at Hell Creek. Seventy million years ago, when the dreaded T-Rex stalked the area, Hell Creek was a lush floodplain, moist and ripe with the resources necessary to sustain a variety of plant and animal life. Gradually, the area evolved into the inhospitable but endlessly fascinating area it is today. Dingus includes accounts of a number of historical events in the badlands, including the Lewis and Clark expedition's trek through the area, Custer's Last Stand, and the tragic confrontation between the Freemen and U.S. government agents. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book "an occasionally lyrical and meditative history of Montana's badlands."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Appraisal, fall, 1994, review of What Color Is That Dinosaur? Questions, Answers, and Mysteries, p. 19.
Booklist, September 1, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Searching for Velociraptor, p. 121; June 1, 1999, John Peters, review of The Tiniest Giants: Discovering Dinosaur Eggs, p. 1818; June 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Walking on Eggs: The Astonishing Discovery of Thousands of Dinosaur Eggs in the Badlands of Patagonia, p. 1809.
Chicago Sun-Times, March 13, 2002, Nancy Moffett, "Peeking into Ancient Dinosaur Nests: Field Exhibit to Show Eighty Million-Year-old Eggs of Titanosaurs," p. 24.
Earth, December, 1997, Karen Mockler, review of Next of Kin: Great Fossils at the American Museum of Natural History, p. 58; August, 1998, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., review of The Mistaken Extinction: Dinosaur Evolution and the Origin of Birds, p. 71.
Library Journal, October 15, 1996, Jeanne Davidson, review of Next of Kin, p. 87; December, 1997, Gloria Maxwell, review of The Mistaken Extinction, p. 143; July, 2004, Amy Brunvand, review of Hell Creek, Montana: America's Key to the Prehistoric Past, p. 113.
Nature, May, 1998, review of The Mistaken Extinction, pp. 32-33.
New York Times Book Review, January 25, 1998, John Noble Wilford, review of The Mistaken Extinction, pp. 8-9.
Publishers Weekly, April 24, 1995, "Discovering Dinosaurs," review of Discovering the Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History, p. 55; May 21, 2001, review of Walking on Eggs, p. 93; May 24, 2004, review of Hell Creek, Montana, p. 54.
Rocks & Minerals, November-December, 2001, John J. Ernissee, review of Walking on Eggs, p. 424.
School Library Journal, July, 1994, Cathryn A. Camper, review of What Color Is That Dinosaur?, p. 106; February, 1997, Patricia Manning, review of Searching for Velociraptor, p. 113; June, 1999, Cathryn A. Camper, review of The Tiniest Giants, p. 144.
Science Books & Films, January-February, 1997, JoAnn Coburn, review of Searching for Velociraptor, p. 17.
Scientific American, December, 1995, Philip and Phylis Morrison, review of Discovering Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History, p. 113.
Times Literary Supplement, December 25, 1998, Brian Bertram, review of The Mistaken Extinction, p. 27.
InfoQuest Foundation Web site,http://www.infoquest.org/ (September 25, 2001), "Lowell Dingus."*