Prehistoric Monsters

The Real and Imagined Creatures of the Past That We Love to Fear


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About the Book

Over centuries, discoveries of fossil bones spawned legends of monsters such as giants and dragons. As the field of earth sciences matured during the 19th century, early fossilists gained understanding of prehistoric creatures such as Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops and Stegosaurus. This historical study examines how these genuine beasts morphed in the public imagination into mythical, powerful engines of destruction and harbingers of cataclysm, taking their place in popular culture, film, and literature as symbols of “lost worlds” where time stands still.

About the Author(s)

Allen A. Debus, a retired environmental chemist, has long been infatuated with dinosaurs, paleontology, science fiction, Godzilla and King Kong. He has written several books addressing prehistoric creatures—both real and fictional—in popular culture, and attends Chicagoland’s Wizard World and G-Fest. He is a member of the G-Fan Hall of Fame and lives in Hanover Park, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Allen A. Debus

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 340
Bibliographic Info: 52 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4281-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5815-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction: Prehistoric Monster Reflections      5

ONE. Inventing the Prehistoric Monster      11
TWO. Great-Claw      29
THREE. Furred Fury: Exhumation of Incognitum, America’s First Carnivorous Monster      55
FOUR. Behemoth and Leviathan—The Beauty of His Beasts      75
FIVE. Apish Antediluvia, or Darwin’s Great Caveman Psych-Out!      87
SIX. Triumph of the Leapin’ Lizards      108
SEVEN. Cretaceous Sanctuary      159
EIGHT. Rex Battles      171
NINE. Modern Prometheus      208
TEN. “And Their Lost Worlds”      231

Appendix. The Most Famous Prehistoric Monsters in Popular Culture      269
Chapter Notes      279
Bibliography      313
Index      325

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Prehistoric Monsters is an insightful, educational, and entertaining historical perspective on some of the most significant fossil beasts discovered in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries…an easy read, as well as being copiously illustrated with historical images and extensively cross-referenced. Students of paleohistory and paleoart as well as those interested in the evolving influence of paleontology on society will surely want to clear space on their bookshelves for a copy”—Fossil News
  • “If you are interested in the history of dinosaurs in popular culture, Debus is an author you simply cannot ignore…Debus does a huge service to those who work in the history of science”—H-Net Reviews.