Author Christa Sadler will present findings from her book, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The Late Triassic in the American Southwest” at Back of Beyond Books. [Courtesy photo]

Dinosaurs were just beginning to emerge 225 million years ago, although if you were to visit that era, you’d see plenty of creatures resembling the behemoths. Those critters, however, were more closely related to crocodiles – one of several tidbits that author Christa Sadler discovered when she was researching her new book, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The Late Triassic in the American Southwest.”

“One of the things that really surprised me was how minor a player the dinosaurs were in this time period,” Sadler said. “It was an extraordinary time period … There’s an absolute revolution happening in paleontology these days. A lot of what we’re learning might have serious implications for today and our future.”

Sadler will give a presentation about her findings at Back of Beyond Books on Friday, Jan. 22. Sadler will describe the Triassic period as seen through the rocks and fossils of the Southwest’s Chinle Formation. “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” focuses on the rock layer found in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, as well as parts of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

Scientists are discovering things about that time period that are only now getting out into the popular science world, Sadler said. The author is also a trained paleontologist who found her niche writing about science and the natural world. While researching “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” she spent time with various scientists, including Petrified Forest National Park’s official paleontologist Bill Parker.

“Paleontology can teach us a lot about the world,” Sadler said.

Published by the Petrified Forest Museum Association, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” contains more than 200 photos and illustrations.

“There are tons and tons of illustrations,” including drawings, and “amazing maps of landscape reconstructions,” Sadler said.

Both hardbound and soft-cover copies are available at Back of Beyond Books – as well as other works by Sadler. This week’s presentation will be the first time the bookstore has hosted the author.

“She’s one of our favorites because she writes geology books about the river,” Back of Beyond Books owner Andy Nettell said.

Nettell cited two of Sadler’s books – “There’s this River … Grand Canyon Boatman Stories” and “Life in Stone: Fossils of the Colorado Plateau” – as popular titles sold at the bookstore.

Sadler moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, 30 years ago after falling in love with the Grand Canyon while rafting the Colorado River. She also works as a river guide, backcountry guide and wilderness guide. She’s taught classes at Northern Arizona University and at Coconino Community College, and leads field trips and presents earth science programs nationwide for people of all ages.

Moab resident Gerrish Willis suggested that Back of Beyond Books host Sadler after learning about her new book, which features the rock formations of Moab and the Colorado Plateau. Willis was familiar with Sadler after attending a previous reading by the author in Salt Lake City.

“She’s quite the naturalist,” Willis said. “A cool thing about the book – we have a lot of visible Triassic rock in Moab. I think people will get a kick hearing about it from Christa.”

Sadler’s roughly 40-minute presentation will include slides and time for questions and answers afterward.

Sadler is currently working on a new book about the late Cretaceous paleontology – which runs about 100 million years later than “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” – of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It will be published later this year by the Glen Canyon Natural History Association.

“Dawn of the Dinosaurs” author to speak on Jan. 22

What: “Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The Late Triassic in the American Southwest” – a book presentation by author Christa Sadler

Where: Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St.

When: Friday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m.

Information:, or 435-259-5154

For more information about Sadler’s work, visit her website at