Sunday, April 17, 2016

My 14th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html

https://img1.etsystatic.com/027/0/5941175/il_570xN.579001941_i8e3.jpg

I wish I had this book as a kid ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: Waldrop/Loomis' "Ranger Rick's Dinosaur Book" (henceforth Ranger) is basically Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" (henceforth ZD) in book form, but better. I recommend reading Ranger in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs").

Long version: Read on.

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up with 1) "Ranger Rick" magazine, & 2) "Zoobooks" magazine.* ZD used to be my favorite issue of either magazine, but now my favorite is Ranger. Like ZD, Ranger is a natural history of dinos illustrated by Hallett, published by a wildlife organization, & consulted by Ostrom. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think Ranger is even better than ZD.

1) Ranger is very complete & in-depth: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's "Dinosaurs" as a guide, Ranger features representatives of 10 different dino groups; Compare that to the 7 different dino groups of ZD; For another (in reference to "in-depth"), see the Waldrop/Loomis quote; Ranger does more in 1 page than ZD does in 2 pages ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/babbletrish/5747604673 ).

2) Ranger is very well-organized: Being well-organized is especially important to a natural history of dinos given that it's "designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals" ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ); Not only does Ranger have a chronological format, but each chapter begins with a day-in-the-life story & ends with a lead-in to the next chapter.

3) Ranger is very well-illustrated: In addition to Hallett, Ranger is illustrated by Akerbergs, Dawson (E.g. See the cover), Kish, Knight, & Zallinger; Dawson's paleoart is especially good at making reconstructed animals appear life-like (I.e. It "displays a superb attention to small details - in terms of the animals' anatomy...their interaction with the surrounding environment, and the environment itself");** It helps that Dawson illustrated all the day-in-the-life stories. My only gripe is that most of the sauropods & some of the ornithischians are depicted as dragging their tails.

*My sympathies to those who didn't grow up with "Classic Ranger Rick" ( http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2009/11/time-has-not-been-kind-to-ranger-rick.html ).

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: De Oerwereld van de Dinosauriërs - Part 1".
Quoting Waldrop/Loomis: "Workers in a German quarry in 1861 uncovered a puzzle that has not been solved after more than 120 years. The puzzle was a new fossil that had a wishbone like a bird's and wings with feathers. It was a bird, the earliest ever found. It was named Archaeopteryx...the "ancient wing."
One of the puzzling things about this bird was its ancestors. To try to solve this puzzle, scientists checked its head, its tail, its hands, its feet. Finally, one man studied the fossil for two years and listed 21 ways that its bones matched those of the small, meat-eating dinosaurs called coelurosaurs (see pages 44-45).
Archaeopteryx was a very primitive bird. It has been called a missing link in the evolutionary chain between the dinosaurs and modern birds. In some ways it was like a dinosaur. In other ways it was like a bird. It had teeth and a bony tail like a dinosaur. Birds today don't have teeth, and their tails are just long feathers. But, like birds, Archaeopteryx had wings and feathers.
Scientists still don't know for sure why this ancient bird had feathers or whether or not it could fly. Feathers help birds in many ways. Of course, they help birds fly. They also insulate them and help them stay warm. Perhaps feathers began as insulators. Small, warmblooded dinosaurs would have lost heat very quickly. Feathers would have helped keep their bodies at a constant temperature.
The feathers might have served other uses. Some people think that Archaeopteryx ran along the ground, chasing insects and other small prey. When it got close enough, it used its wide, feathered wings to scoop up its meal.
Archaeopteryx probably could not fly, at least the way most birds do today. It did not have the right bones for holding the muscles needed to flap its wings.
But Archaeopteryx might have been able to glide. That's what flying squirrels do. Some scientists think the bird climbed branches in search of prey, then spread its wings and floated gently back to the ground. Other scientists think it lived only on the ground."

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OK in the 1980s, but not in the 2000s ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RAVE9K9147YWQ/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

As you may remember, I grew up with "Zoobooks" magazine ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ). Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" is my favorite issue of said magazine, so I was very excited to get Wexo's "Where Did Dinosaurs Come From?" (henceforth WD). I originally thought that WD was going to be the sequel issue I've always wanted. Boy, was I wrong about WD! WD would've been OK in the 1980s, but not in the 2000s. Switek's WD review ( http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/where-did-dinosaurs-come-from-49918128/?no-ist ) sums up most of the reasons why, but not the most important reason. In this review, I point you to Switek's WD review & add my own thoughts as well:
-The most important reason is that WD was billed as new when it actually was 20 years old: 1st, see the back cover; Then, compare that to "t-rex, prehistoric #zoobooks, #1989. #science!" This explains most of the inaccuracies. However, there are several weird bits throughout WD that can't be explained by its outdatedness (E.g. See the Wexo quote).
-I'm surprised that Switek didn't say more about the paleoart given that, to quote Switek ( http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/10/a-dinosaur-reading-list-for-everyone/ ), "Everyone knows that half the fun of paleontology is imagining how prehistoric creatures looked and moved." In addition to Sibbick, WD is illustrated by Orr, Francis, & Newman. Sibbick's paleoart is especially noteworthy: For 1, to paraphrase Vincent ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-dinosaur-art-creatures-of-long.html ), "The illustrations in [WD] show a marked improvement over those in the Norman encyclopedia from just [4] years prior. They demonstrate a stage in the evolution from Sibbick's earlier stodge-o-saurs to the altogether more active, muscular and modern-looking restorations of the '90s"; For another, it's very jarring to see Sibbick's T.rex in the style of Hallett's.
-In some ways, WD is better than the original (E.g. The main stuff is more well-organized, beginning with "some of the earliest creatures on earth" & ending with the Age of Dinosaurs). In other ways, WD is worse than the original (E.g. The sidebar stuff is more hit-&-miss).* In still other ways, they're about the same (E.g. Both refer to T.rex by different genus names).
-If you want a good alternative to WD, get Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs": For 1, not only does Bakker's book cover much of the same background info, but also goes well beyond;** For another, Bakker's book doesn't shy away from discussing evolution, using "the dreaded e-word" multiple times.

*While the hits really hit (E.g. A comparison of sauropods' teeth & garden tools), the misses really miss (E.g. A race between a man & various theropods in which the man is winning & the theropods are scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason).

**To quote Switek, "The trouble is that by the time Wexo gets to the dinosaurs, relatively little time is spent on explaining how different groups of dinosaurs evolved or even when different kinds of dinosaurs lived…The book then abruptly ends with no concluding section tying the lessons of the book together. Likewise, the fact that the book never discusses feathered dinosaurs or that birds are living theropod dinosaurs is a major flaw." Bakker's book does the exact opposite of all that & MUCH more.
Quoting Wexo: "For a long time, the simple plants fed themselves on chemicals that were dissolved in the water. Later, they started to make food from sunlight and chemicals, as plants do today. But they did not eat each other…Then one day, for reasons that are not clear, one plant did eat another plant…and thereby became the 1st animal. Eating other plants was a good way to get food. For this reason, more and more new species of "animals" came along as time passed. Some new species of animals had the first mouths, to eat plants more easily."

Friday, March 4, 2016

Jurassic World Mosasaur UPDATE

Unexpectedly my one off silly rant post about the Mosasaur in Jurassic World has become one of the most popular posts on this site.

As a result I figured I'd put a little more effort into my "findings". 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Animated Victorian Dinosaur

My first animation test cylce on Mr. Iguanodon. It is too fast, but if the overall motions slow down, it should move with a sense of bulk and mass.

To my knowledge this is the first time a Waterhouse Dawkins style Dinosaur has been animated. I'm not boasting, I'm legitimately curious. Does anyone know of another time this has been done?

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Waterhouse Hawkins Dinosaur 2

I'm now pretty set on my first animated project. A little more cornball and whacky. I realized probably best to do a one off, rather then tackle a potential series first.

So I'm going with old school Dinosaurs, in a more whimsical project that draws on my interests in palaeo-history.








Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old School Dinosaur

Forget your feathers vs. no feathers. One of my doodle projects of late, is as old school a reconstruction as you can get ;)

I am thinking about animating him at some point.

Does anyone know of any 3D animated Waterhouse Hawkins style Dinosaurs?

By Craig Dylke

By Craig Dylke

By Craig Dylke

By Craig Dylke

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Craig's Animation Project- update #3

Been tinkering away on my animated project. I'm narrowing in on my format, and how to communicate some science.

The first step is I've rough recreated my favourite scene from Jurassic World... though when I say favourite one must understand this is very conditional, and only within the context of the film. I found JW to be a very painful waste of time (probably more so than even Jurassic Park 3).

Doc31

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My (Dinosaur Related) Board Game Exploits

As I've mentioned in posts before, I've gone quiet on the palaeo-art front for the past three-ish years as I delved into free lance (and one semi-pro) board game design.

I find this is no longer holding my interest like it did, and that prehistory is starting to beckon (all be it in a new form... aka my upcoming animated project).

Still I thought it'd be worth a post on here to show off some of my prehistoric themed game productions.

You'll note not all these are solely based on my own 3D abilities. I tip my hat to the creators who were kind enough to make their models avaliable via CC liscense. All posts on the amazing collection of work over at 3D Sketchup Warehouse.

I emphasis here, none of my maps were ever for monetary sale... EVER! (Full Disclosure: I have bartered my time putting some of my maps together in exchange for gaming product. Only the Savage Land was such a commission out of these in this post)

So check out my Dinosaur themed maps.

Savage Land
Whole Composition and 3D assets by Craig Dylke

Badlands
Canoe model by Sam..
Army Tent model by Battery519IDA
Camping Tent model by Iain M
All other 3D models, assets and photos by Craig Dylke

Jurassic Park: Raptor's Pen
Raptor Pen model by Tyradoraptor

JP Wrangler Jeep model by Alex89111
Raptor Cage model by Robert Pearce, AIA
The few other models, but definitely the lighting by Craig Dylke 

Jurassic Park: Visitor's Center
JP Explorer Jeep model by ruskofe.54
Jurassic Park Cafeteria Mural by Unknown (if you know who please let me know)
All other models, 3D assets, and textures by Craig Dylke

Jurassic Park: Tyrannosaurus Rex Paddock
JP Explorer Jeep model by ruskofe.54
JP Wrangler Jeep model by Alex89111
T-Rex Paddock Sign model by Francisco O.
JP Electric Fence model by Luca F (with heavy modification by Craig Dylke)
All other models and 3D assets by Craig Dylke

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Craig's Animation Project part 2

The more I tinker with my animation for potential Dino youtube video projects, the more ideas pop into my head (kind of how Traumador had very varied adventures throughout his tenure).

So while this one isn't directly related, I'm quite happy with it.

video

I'm starting to think tiny little "real" Jurassic Park sketches would be a good warm up to bigger projects. We'll just have to see.

Enjoy the Dolichorhynchops animation in the meantime ;)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life: New Zoobooks Dinos

https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/projects/2244541/photo-original.jpg?v=1452038574&w=1536&h=1152&fit=crop&auto=format&q=92&s=d732b52eeffda4732dab71ab304f3922

Hi everybody,

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up w/"Zoobooks" magazine. Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" (henceforth ZD: http://www.amazon.com/Zoobooks-Dinosaurs-John-Bonnett-Wexo/dp/B009BN47P6 ) is my favorite issue of said magazine. I've always wanted a sequel issue or updated edition to ZD, but never thought there'd be 1. I then found out about "Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life: New Zoobooks Dinos for Kids" ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/411282443/bring-dinosaurs-back-to-life-new-zoobooks-dinos-fo ) & pledged $25 (the rewards for which include the new ZD). In short, I recommend that everyone pledges (especially if you like dinos or said magazine or have ever used Kickstarter).

Cheers,
Herman Diaz

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My 13th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html

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Interesting ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R2IQJJ88JEJCNK/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: Sereno's "How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus?" (henceforth Tough) is MUCH better than a children's dino Q&A book has any right to be. I recommend reading Tough in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs" in general & Chapter 17 in particular).

Long version: Read on.

To quote the Nostalgia Critic ( http://thatguywiththeglasses.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_(Dreamworks-uary) ), "By all outward appearances, I should hate How to Train Your Dragon. This has so many things I can't stand in a movie...But for some reason, here, it really, really works. There's just something about the way this story is told and presented and paced that just really, really gets it." The same goes for Tough. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) As you may remember, I generally dislike the dino Q&A genre for 3 main reasons: 1) Redundant questions; 2) Vague answers; 3) Bad Q&As (I.e. Stupid or misleading questions & misleading or wrong answers). What's interesting about Tough is that the questions are precise, the answers are concise, & the Q&As are good.

2) I generally dislike children's dino Q&A books for being poorly-illustrated, among other things. You'd think the same would go for Tough given Courtney's previous work ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2013/11/vintage-dinosaur-art-dinosaurs-giants.html ). What's interesting about Tough is that "the illustrations...show a marked improvement over those...from just [1 year] prior. They demonstrate a stage in the evolution from [Courtney's] earlier stodge-o-saurs to the altogether more active, muscular and modern-looking restorations of the '90s" ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-dinosaur-art-creatures-of-long.html ).* My only gripe is the anachronistic assemblages of animals (E.g. On pages 8-9, there's T.rex, Corythosaurus, Astrodon, Ankylosaurus, Protoceratops, & Oviraptor).

3) I generally dislike children's dino Q&A books for being poorly-organized, among other things. It doesn't help that their titles are often based on random Q&As (E.g. The title of my next review's book). What's interesting about Tough is that its title isn't just a random Q&A, but the overarching theme. You'd think I'd have a major problem with that given that T.rex is the most overexposed & overstudied dino. What's doubly interesting about Tough is that it uses T.rex as a vehicle to address a broader range of topics (E.g. See the Sereno quotes, which are from the 1st & last pages of Tough).

*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus? by Mrs Smart on Prezi" & see for yourself.
Quoting Sereno: "Did all the dinosaurs live at the same time?
Dinosaurs lived on earth for many millions of years, but no one kind of dinosaur existed for the entire time. Fierce Tyrannosaurus…for example, appeared only near the very end of the dinosaur age. Many other dinosaurs had already appeared and become extinct…died out." 
Quoting Sereno: "Are any animals alive today related to the dinosaurs?
Yes. The ancestry of birds can be traced back to small flesh-eating relatives of Tyrannosaurus. In the long view of time, birds are really feathered dinosaurs!"

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61qzkBjC1mL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Like playing Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RGU1QQZ5DR8A5/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

Short version: The combination of unanswered questions, wrongly-answered questions, & everything in between makes reading Theodorou's "I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns: and Other Questions about Dinosaurs" (henceforth Wonder) like playing "Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril" ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5xHcnTcKI ). If you want to know "Why Triceratops Had Horns", see "For Defense" on pages 48-49: digitallibrary.amnh.org/bitstream/handle/2246/6511/NH114n04.pdf

Long version: Read on.

As you may remember, I generally dislike the dino Q&A genre for 3 main reasons: 1) Redundant questions; 2) Vague answers; 3) Bad Q&As (I.e. Stupid or misleading questions & misleading or wrong answers). However, when I originally said that, I was specifically referring to adult dino Q&A books. Children's dino Q&A books in general & Wonder in particular are even worse:
-Redundant questions? Uncheck (There are only 30 questions), but Wonder more than makes up for this in the following ways.
-Vague answers? Check times infinity! The 1st Theodorou quote is the worst because 1) the main text completely dodges 1 of the biggest questions in science, & 2) the sidebar text only mentions invalid hypotheses (I.e. Poisonous plants & periodic comet showers).
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity! The 2nd Theodorou quote is the worst because it fails on many levels: It contradicts itself from a previous Q&A (Again, see the 1st Theodorou quote; If "all the dinosaurs vanished", then there wouldn't be "any dinosaurs around today"); It fails to understand how evolution works (If birds "developed from dinosaurs", then they ARE "true dinosaurs"); It avoids using the word "evolution" (as does the rest of Wonder); It fails to understand that "developed" =/= "evolved" (See "Backgrounder": http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/04/2/l_042_02.html ).

But wait, there's more!:
-Wonder is a confusing mess in terms of organization. This is especially apparent in the Q&As about finding & reconstructing dino fossils: For 1, you have to find dino fossils BEFORE you can reconstruct them; For another, the text explaining said processes is scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason.
-Wonder's more realistic reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the Apatosaurus reconstructions: For 1, they're shameless rip-offs of the "Safari Ltd Carnegie Scale Model Apatosaurus", Sibbick's "Normanpedia" Apatosaurus, & Hallett's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" Apatosaurus; For another, they combine "a Sibbickian concentric ring skin pattern with a finely polished finish reminiscent of a 4x4 vehicle purchased by a money-crazed, wantonly aggressive businessperson" ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2015/08/vintage-dinosaur-art-dinosaurs-1987.html ).
-Wonder's more cartoony reconstructions are even worse: For 1, not only are most of them unrecognizable as the genera they're intended to represent, but the others are only recognizable because they're shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions; For another, not only are all of them unfunny, but some of them are also very disturbing (E.g. Why are a bat & a pterosaur giving each other "do me" eyes?; Why was that woman drilling into a living Ankylosaurus?; etc).
Quoting Theodorou: "What happened to the dinosaurs?
Something very strange happened 65 million years ago. All the dinosaurs vanished, together with all the flying reptiles and most of the sea reptiles. Know one knows for sure what happened to them." 
Quoting Theodorou: "Are there any dinosaurs around today?
Although there aren't any true dinosaurs alive today, we do have some of their relatives. Scientists think that birds developed from dinosaurs, because their skeletons are so similar. So look carefully the next time you see a bird nesting in a tree or hopping across the grass!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Upcoming Palaeo-art Project

After a rather long hiatus (at least 3 years overall) from palaeoart, taking on a moonlighting "career" in the board game industry, I've (Craig) decided to travel back into deep time recreation.

I'm looking into making a series of little educational animations about Dinosaurs and other prehistoric critters as they behave/appear in movies vs. what we know in the fossil record.

As this is just for fun I have no strict deadline set. However I'll post some of my progress up here if people are interested.

I'm also looking for ideas on topics. So far I have (thus the previews posted):
  • Could T-Rex run as fast as a jeep? (the answer being no)
  • Could a "Pteradactyl" carry you off for lunch? (answer no, no again for the actual meant Pteranodon, and worse a Quetzalcoatlus would just eat you for lunch)
  • Could a Mosasaur eat a great White Shark? (answer only a unrealistically large one)
I want the topics posed as questions, and typically shaped or informed by movies/TV show depictions of prehistoric life. Adding an extra dimension of difficulty, I don't want to just cover carnivores (in particular theropods), though I'll do several I'm sure. I just want some variety in what I'm animating/modelling.

I'm not aiming for JP level production values, so this is my intended style and level of detail. Think 3D style Hanna Barbera (hopefully with better writing :P)


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Sunday, November 15, 2015

My 12th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a very good book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DEE5499WL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

This book should have more reviews ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R3J8882CLGWDY1/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 4/5

Whenever I read Schlein's "The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx" (henceforth Puzzle), I wonder why it doesn't have more reviews? I wonder because Puzzle is 1 of the best pre-Sinosauropteryx dino-bird books for older kids.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Puzzle is very authoritative: Not only is it consulted by Dr. John Ostrom, but also contributed to by Gregory Paul & Nicholas Hotton III; To quote Taylor ( http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/faq/s-lit/books/ ), "those are big guns firing."

2) Puzzle is very complete & concise: Not only does it cover the history of "the dinosaur-bird connection" from the 1860s to the 1970s, the Protoavis Controversy, the Chinese feathered dinos (I.e. Sinornis & Confusiusornis), & every Archaeopteryx specimen then known, but it does so in 40 pages; Most dino books for older kids are at least 48 pages.

3) Puzzle is very well-illustrated: The beautiful paleoart of Hallett is worth the price alone; The diagrams & reconstructions in particular are both very nostalgic & very prescient.**

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there's too much Linnaean taxonomy (I.e. See the Holtz quote; Puzzle beats the dead horse that is "that debate"). For another, there's not enough cladistics (I.e. There are no cladograms in Puzzle; This is despite the fact that clades "are central to a modern understanding of how we living things relate to each other": https://www.facebook.com/grandmotherfish/photos/a.323081411177915.1073741827.307222832763773/535824073236980/?type=1&permPage=1 ). Even still, I recommend reading Puzzle in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").

*By "dino-bird books", I mean books about "the dinosaur-bird connection".

**Nostalgic because they're "Zoobooks" magazine-esque. Prescient because all the non-tyrannosaurid coelurosaurs are thickly plumaged.
Quoting Holtz (See GSPaul's "The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs"): "In the 1970s through the mid-1980s, there was some debate among paleontologists over whether dinosaurs should be considered reptiles. That debate did not concern a difference of opinion as to the position of dinosaurs in the family tree of vertebrates. It instead centered on the debate over dinosaurs' physiology: Were dinosaurs cold-blooded, like "reptiles" (as the term was used then) or were they warm-blooded, like their descendants the birds? To most paleontologists today, dinosaurs are considered a type of reptile, and birds are considered a type of reptile. This shift has occurred because of the way biologists use their formal taxonomic names...Once scientists accepted that monophyletic groups would be the only type used in taxonomy, the debate whether dinosaurs were reptiles was over. The name Reptilia now applies to a particular branch of the family tree of the vertebrates, not to some general "grade" of development (that is, cold-blooded terrestrial vertebrates with a shelled egg). Since dinosaurs are part of that branch, whether they were cold-blooded or warmblooded is not a consideration in their classification: they are reptiles."

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1 of the worst edutainment adaptations ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1SNCFJECE6XS1/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

As you may remember, I said that "The Magic School Bus" show isn't the worst edutainment adaptation (
http://www.amazon.com/review/R1A9PA105I2590/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B007I1Q4RM&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=2625373011&store=movies-tv ). That's because "The Magic School Bus Scholastic Reader Level 2" books based on the show are even worse. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Schwabacher's "The Magic School Bus Flies with the Dinosaurs" (henceforth Magic) in particular is that bad.

1) Magic's text is lacking in both quantity & quality. This is especially apparent in the reports: For 1 (in reference to quantity), there's only 1 report for every 5 pages of Magic; Compare that to the 1 report for every 2 pages of Cole's "The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs"; For another (in reference to quality), compare the Schwabacher quote to the Cole quote; The former is basically a dumbed down version of the latter.

2) Magic's reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the T.rex & the Sinornithosaurus: Not only is the former based on Osborn's T.rex from 1916 ( http://dino.lindahall.org/osb1916b.shtml ), but its face looks like Jeff the Killer's face;* Not only is the latter a shameless rip-off, but it's a shameless rip-off of Groves' abominable model of Sinornithosaurus (See the cover of Sloan's "How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries Yet Unsolved").

To sum up, I recommend reading Cole's "The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs" in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs"). All the non-Cole "Magic School Bus" books (especially those about dinos) should be avoided.

*If you google "Jeff the Killer", don't do it at night.
Quoting Schwabacher: "THE STORY OF FOSSILS by Arnold
After millions of years, the ashes turned to rock. The dinosaur bones turned to rock, too. Now they are called fossils. People find the fossils and learn about dinosaurs."
Quoting Cole: "HOW A DEAD DINOSAUR COULD BECOME A FOSSIL by Carmen
1. The dead body sank in a river, and rotted away.
2. The bones were covered with sand.
3. In time, the sand turned into rocks.
4. The bones became hard as rock, too."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My 11th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7533710-dinosaurs ). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-"My 1st Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-1st-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 2nd Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-2nd-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 3rd Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-3rd-pair-of-reviews_21.html ).
-"My 4th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/08/as-art-evolved-member-i-post-pair-of-my.html ).
-"My 5th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-5th-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 6th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/11/my-6th-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 7th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/12/my-7th-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 8th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/03/my-8th-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 9th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/05/my-9th-pair-of-reviews.html ).
-"My 10th Pair of Reviews" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html ).

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The best popular baby dino books, part 2 ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R37BBMEAJ1NL8M/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: As far as I know, there aren't any popular adult books about baby dinos (book chapters, yes, but not whole books). Therefore, Zoehfeld's "Dinosaur Parents, Dinosaur Young: Uncovering the Mystery of Dinosaur Families" (henceforth Parents) is 1) the best baby dino book for older kids, & 2) 1 of the best popular baby dino books period. I recommend reading Parents in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").

Long version: Read on.

Many popular baby dino books are OK, but not great. There are 3 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) They're mixed bags in terms of paleoart (Quoting Miller: "I bought the book expecting a more technical discussion of the animals discussed therein...but was surprised to find beautiful paintings of questionably-restored dinosaurs"); 2) They're confusing messes in terms of organization; 3) They fail to cover many baby dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner (I.e. Sometimes, they simplify things to the point of being meaningless; Other times, they're just plain wrong). In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think Parents succeeds where said books fail.

1) Like a Bakker book, Parents is very well-illustrated:* Shillinglaw should illustrate more dino books; He's that good (E.g. See the very cute Hypacrosaurus on the back cover); You could say that he's the new McLoughlin with Parents basically being a more family-friendly version of "Archosauria: A New Look at the Old Dinosaur" (Google "Let's read _The Archosauria_!" for what I mean). My only gripe is that Shillinglaw didn't do both the black-&-white & full-color illustrations. Instead, Carrick did the full-color illustrations, & he's not that good (E.g. See the very derpy Maiasaura on the front cover).

2) Like a Bakker book, Parents is very well-organized: Chapters 1-6 begin with 1) a day-in-the-life story of an Oviraptor father, & 2) the history of dino science from the 1840s to the 1970s, continue with descriptions of "how scientists are continu-ally making new discoveries and drawing new conclusions about what life was like for dinosaurs and their young", & end with the unsolved mysteries of "tyrannosaurs, stegosaurs, and the hundreds of other types of dinosaurs"; Said descriptions are arranged in roughly chronological order (I.e. 1st Maiasaura, then Hypacrosaurus, Drinker, & Troodon, & then Apatosaurus & Saltasaurus).

3) Like a Bakker book, Parents is very complete & in-depth: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's "Dinosaurs" as a guide, Parents features representatives of 15 different dino groups; Compare that to the 6 different dino groups of Judge's "Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World"; For another (in reference to "in-depth"), see the Zoehfeld quote; Parents does more in 2 pages than Judge's book does in 4 pages. Chapter 4 is an especially good example of the latter because of the Orodromeus & Troodon story (I.e. "Another Mistake", which is often not told accurately in popular dino books; Google "Dino Data Adapted from Dino Data Activity" for more info).

*Parents isn't a Bakker book per se, but it might as well be. The Bakker quote on the back cover sums up what I mean.
Quoting Zoehfeld: "In 1986, in northern Montana, Dr. Horner discovered nests, eggs, embryos, and babies of another duckbill dinosaur, a crested lambeosaur called Hypacrosaurus...Dr. Horner and his crew found a large Hypacrosaurus nesting site, where a herd of a thousand or more must have returned each year to lay their eggs.
Early one nesting season, when the babies had just begun to hatch, the adults may have noticed the sky growing dark. Thick clouds of soot and ash spewed forth from volcanoes erupting just to the south of them. When hot cinders and ash began to rain down, the leaders of the herd may have used the echo chambers in their hollow nasal crests to sound a basso alarm call. They urged the mothers to abandon their nests and head north and east, away from the deadly downpour.
Today the entire nesting ground is covered by a layer of solidified volcanic sediment called bentonite, which "froze" the scene almost as it.
Not long after this discovery, Dr. Horner discovered another Hypacrosaurus rookery south of the first one. In Alberta, Canada, just north of the Montana border, Wendy Sloboda, then a high school student, discovered yet another.
Were the Hypacrosaurus helpless and nest-bound as tots, as the Maiasaura most certainly were? From the locations of the baby bones found around the rookeries, it is still not clear. But Dr. Horner thinks they must have been relatively helpless, like certain types of altricial birds, such as the American white pelican.These birds are nest-bound for only a short time, but for up to three months the youngsters stay together in the nesting colony, where the adults can bring them food and look after them.
Close study of the Hypacrosaurus babies' leg bones shows that they were made up of more calcified cartilage and less solid bone than would be expected in a precocial animal. Although there's no evidence that the little ones were completely nest-bound, they did stay within the confines of their nesting ground the way pelicans do today."

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Disappointing ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R22TDN8NHQBXK4/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

Short version: If you want the best summary of the geologic history & evolution of dinos for kids, get Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs". Benton's "Dinosaurs: Living Monsters of the Past" (henceforth Past) looks good, but has no heart.

Long version: Read on.

Benton & Brusatte are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. See Brusatte's "Dinosaur Paleobiology"). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast. I originally thought that Past was going to be the exception, mostly because of the beautiful paleoart (which is mostly that of Sibbick & Krb). Boy, was I wrong about Past!* Not only is Past as bad as expected overall, but worse in some ways. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Past is that bad.

1) As expected, the text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. What wasn't expected was the high number & degree of misses in the text. That of Chapter 3 is some of the worst: On page 28, it's claimed that Huayangosaurus was "found in the 1970s" (More like 1982), that Kentrosaurus was "only 2.5 metres…long" (More like 5 m long), that Stegosaurus "was 6 to 7 metres…long" (More like 9 m long), & that "the snout [of Huayangosaurus] is long" (It isn't); It's also worth mentioning that, on page 29, Benton misidentifies Kentrosaurus as Dacentrurus & vice versa despite having correctly identified Kentrosaurus on page 28.

2) As expected, the writing is annoyingly repetitive (E.g. Ornithopod chewing is described over & over again) & inconsistent (E.g. Chapter 2 begins with climate, flora, & fauna; Chapter 3 begins with climate & flora; Chapter 4 begins with climate & fauna; Chapter 5 begins with none). What wasn't expected was the plain toast-dryness of the writing. That of Chapter 1 (See the Benton quote) is some of the worst: On page 4, Benton takes 2 major theories of geology & biology (I.e. Radioactive decay & evolution, respectively) & makes them boring & meaningless (I.e. He defines them as "change, over time" & "change through time", respectively); That's when I realized that I was wrong about Past.

To sum up, Bakker put it best when he said, "We dino-scientists have a great responsibility: our subject matter attracts kids better than any other, except rocket-science" ( http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/04/07/paleontological-profiles-rober/ ). Past doesn't fulfill said responsibility.

*If you get the reference, give yourself a pat on the back.
Quoting Benton: "Dinosaurs lived on Earth long ago, during the Mesozoic Era, which is often known as the 'Age of the Dinosaurs'.The dinosaurs lived for 160 million years, eventually dying out 65 million years ago, long before the origin of humans 5 million years ago.
These vast amounts of time, measured in millions of years, have been based upon studies of rocks by geologists. Long ago, geologists realised that the Earth was very ancient, and that vast thicknesses of rocks have been deposited, with the oldest layers generally at the bottom of the pile. Exact ages of the rocks are found out by studies of rocks that have natural radioactivity. Radioactive elements are not stable, and they decay, or change, over time into other elements. The rates of decay are known, and it is possible to estimate the exact age of a rock sample by comparing the amount of a radioactive element left and the amount of the end product.
Fossils are also used in dating, and they can give quick and accurate age estimates, but not in millions of years. Fossils are the remains of once-living plants and animals which have been preserved in the rock. There is a very rich fossil record in the rocks, thousands of species having been preserved through the past 3,500 million years. The fossils give evidence for change through time, or evolution. Different groups come and go at specific times, and rocks of any particular age may contain specific fossils that are never found in rocks of any other age.
Fossil evidence, and exact age dating, form the basis of the geological time scale, an international standard. Time is divided into Eons, Eras, and Periods, and these may be further divided up into smaller units. This is a useful reference for geologists in all countries, and it is the time scale that is used to calibrate the evolution of life. The dinosaurs arose in the Late Triassic Period, ruled the Earth during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and died out at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary."

Friday, August 28, 2015

I "made" it :P

This is old news, but I'm trying to motivate myself to get back into palaeo-art a bit (since my departure I've started a minorly successful board game art gig).

The Enchodus fish I built for the Dan Varner tribute Gallery was picked up by the Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum Hannover for display in their gallery.

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So I guess this makes me a true palaeo-artist :P

That is all. Hope to have a new project to share soon.