Jurassic West

Jurassic West

The Dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation and Their World
John Foster
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/03/2007
Format: Hardback 167 b&w photos, 15 color photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-34870-8
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The famous bone beds of the Morrison Formation, whose rocks are exposed from Wyoming down through the red rock region of the American Southwest, have yielded one of the most complete pictures of any ancient vertebrate ecosystem in the world. After more than a century of exploration, the Morrison continues to yield new discoveries about a time so different from our own that it almost seems imaginary. Aimed at the general reader, Jurassic West tells the story of the life of this ancient world as scientists have so far been able to reconstruct it. The book recounts the discovery of many important Late Jurassic dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus, Allosaurus, and Stegosaurus. But dinosaurs comprise barely a third of the more than 90 types of vertebrates known from the Formation, which include crocodiles and turtles, frogs and salamanders, dinosaurs and mammals, clams and snails, and ginkgoes, ferns, and conifers.

Author Bio

John Foster is Director of the Museum of Moab in Moab, Utah. He served for thirteen years as Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of Western Colorado and adjunct faculty at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. He has worked in Cambrian deposits in several areas of the western states, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and South Dakota. He is author of Cambrian Ocean World: Ancient Sea Life of North America (IUP, 2014).


“Jurassic West tells the story of the life of the ancient world that is now the famous bone beds of the Morrison Formation as scientists have so far been able to reconstruct it.”

“I very much enjoyed John Foster's book and am glad his perspective and knowledge will soon be available to lots of other people. His motorcar drive to Morrison time and later the long safari across Morrison landscapes are very informative, entertaining, and above all highly original.”
 — Dale Russell, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

“A very well-written book. The prose flows easily; it is hard to stop reading once one starts. The presentation of scientific information is excellent. Rather than creating a synthesized story, Foster presents material in its true complexity without resorting to annoying speculation. . . . There is much to be learned from reading this book . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“This book makes the discovery and science of dinosaurs easily accessible to a variety of audiences with differing backgrounds.winter 2007”
 — Samantha Sands, American Paleontologist

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Table of Contents

Foreword Dale Russell
List of Abbreviations

1. Rainbow Country: An Introduction to Morrison Formation Geology
2. Vertebrates and the Jurassic World
3. The Morrison Vertebrates Come to Light
4. The Picture Fills In
5. Fins, Scales, and Wings: The Morrison Menagerie, Part I
6. Gargantuan to Minuscule: The Morrison Menagerie, Part II
7. Patterns in the Record: Paleoecology of the Morrison Formation
8. Many Rivers to Cross: A Late Jurassic Journey across the Morrison Floodplain
9. The Morrison Fauna in World Context