The Dinosaur Hunters by Deborah Cadbury (Fourth Estate, £7.99)

 

If you believe man was created in the image of God with such certainty that you can name the date (Sunday, October 23rd, 4,004BC), what do you do when someone tells you the image evolved from an ape? Instead of being the reason for the creation of the universe, you are relegated to a genetic mutation living in a world originally occupied by monsters. These were the devastating discoveries in the 18th century, in part made possible by the historically forgettable Mary Anning. But Deborah Cadbury hasn't forgotten Mary or the "undergroundologists" who discovered the dinosaurs and grappled with their meaning, and each other, for glory and science. Using the diaries and letters of three of the principal characters of these debates, Gideon Mantell, Richard Owen and Rev William Buckland, Cadbury produces a marvellous book of science and personal history that flows like a novel.