“A few hours before light broke on a cold November morning in 2014, I got out of a taxi and pushed my way into Beijing’s central railway station.”

Like many kids, I spent much of my youth with a fascination for dinosaurs. Children of all stripes seem to become obsessed by them, the real monsters and dragons of myths and legends, separated from us by millions of years. Because of the inherent awesomeness of them, children are able to trot out words like Brachiosaurus, Coelophysis and Ankylosaurus without any difficulty, long before they may reach more traditional and common words in the language. Ever since we dug up the first fossils, as a culture we have been entranced.

Steve Brusatte is one of those people whose obsession didn’t wane as he grew up. Now one of the world’s leading palaeontologists, he brings together all he’s learnt in his fascinating book. Charting the Age of the Dinosaurs from their small beginnings to their complete domination of the planet and sudden demise, he brings together all the latest research, some of the most intriguing discoveries and a sheer passion for his subject.

What we know about dinosaurs is ever-changing, as there is very little we can know for sure about beasts that lived so long ago. It is important to remember when watching films like Jurassic Park or documentaries like that still brilliant Walking with Dinosaurs, that a lot of the behaviour we see is purely speculative. Working out what they ate and how they moved is easy, but we’ll probably never know how they saw the world, what their parenting skills were like, or what they sounded like. Brusatte points out many of these changes in the book. Dinosaurs were once seen as scaly cold-blooded beasts, but these days it is widely accepted that they were probably warm-blooded, and almost all of them had feathers of some kind or another. We even have confirmation on some of their colours, which was something thought impossible just a few years ago.

Again, it is Brusatte’s passion for the subject that really shines through. He talks lovingly about fossils he has seen, the people he has met, and the creatures that he clearly longs to meet. Starting with their humble beginnings as vertebrates conquered the land, he guides us through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, exploring how they came to diversify and dominate. A whole chapter is given over to Tyrannosaurus Rex, the most famous dinosaur of them all. Although not the biggest predator ever, and subject to recent speculation that it was actually more of a large, scavenging chicken than a walking nightmare, Brusatte corrects some of the myths and shows that actually, it was probably even more formidable than we’ve been led to believe and may even have hunted in packs. Fittingly, the book ends by exploring the death of the dinosaurs, showing how while an asteroid impact certainly played a part, it may not have been the only reason.

Dinosaurs will continue to fascinate and the more we learn about them, the more assured I am that we’ll never tire of them. And it’s pleasant to remember that some of them survived in the form of birds. This is one of the most engaging, accessible popular science books I’ve read in ages, and I would thrust it on anyone who wants to know just what palaeontology is up to these days.

My second novel, The Third Wheel, is now available on Amazon and Waterstones! It tells the story of Dexter, a twenty-something teacher who is struggling with the fact that he alone among his friends is single and isn’t ready to grow up. But when aliens invade, it puts a lot of his problems into perspective. Mixing comedy, science fiction and horror, the novel promises to have something for everyone. I hope you’ll take a look!