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I read the book in the late 80's.

I believe that the huge "ship" was a pre-programmed vessel that was heading back to Earth with a collection of intelligent lizards/dinosaurs as the cargo. If I remember correctly, the ship created its own centrifugal gravity and was described as a test-tube of life from a former time on earth, or as an alternate developmental path to human development on earth. Sort of a "what-if" the reptilian life had been allowed to evolve instead of being wiped out.

4

I think that might be Toolmaker Koan by John McLoughlin, which to the best of my memory (and it's probably 20 years since I read it) matches your description.

Edited to add that I found a review here (behind a spoiler tag) that seems to agree with my memory. I'm pretty sure this is the book you're looking for.

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