The Riddle of the Dinosaur

by John Noble Wilford. Knopf, $22.95. The actual subject of Mr. Wilford’s ably written book is not the dinosaur as such but the various, sometimes eccentric, scientists and bone hunters whose theories and discoveries have led to what is currently known about the creature. Even if one does not particularly care for dinosaurs, the story is an impressive illustration of the trial-and-error, jigsaw-puzzle way in which the remote past can be reconstructed.