Monday, August 6, 2018

Top 4 Natural Histories of Dinos

This post is the sequel to "Natural Histories of Dinos" ( ). It's nothing formal, just a list of what I (as a non-expert dino fan) think are the best NHD books & why. Even still, I hope that at least some of you will get something out of it.

4/3) Tie btwn Fastovsky/Weishampel's "Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History"/"The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs" & Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life": Despite their obvious differences (E.g. Fastovsky/Weishampel's book is a textbook w/a phylogenetic format, while Sampson's is a non-textbook w/a chronological format), these 2 books have 3 major similarities: 1) In both books, "the story builds in a stepwise fashion," "each chapter [building] upon the previous ones"; 2) "Part of [the goal in both books] is to explore the relationships of organisms to each other and to the biosphere"; 3) "It is [hoped] that science educators in particular will embrace some of the approaches presented" in both books. This is especially apparent when you compare the Introduction of Fastovsky/Weishampel's book ( ) to the Preface of Sampson's ( ).

2) Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs": To quote Hammond ( ), the red-tailed hawk is "the archetypal bird of prey". Similarly, this book was the archetypal NHD from 1993-2016 (See "Synopsis": ). There are 2 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) To paraphrase Naish ( ), this book is backed by "one of the world's greatest and most famous of natural history museums, and [based on] one of the world's most important scientific collections of dinosaur fossils"; This is especially apparent in "The Dino Directory" ("which serves as a nice supplement to [this] book": ); 2) This book has a day-in-the-life format (I.e. The 1st part introduces the dinos & their world; The 2nd part shows how the dinos lived & evolved in their world); This makes sense given that, according to Ernest Thompson Seton, day-in-the-life stories are the best way to write natural history (See "NOTE TO THE READER": ). It's also worth mentioning that the newer editions are very much "enlarged and updated" compared to the older ones (E.g. 144 pages in 2006 vs. 128 pages in 1993).

1) Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved": In 2016, 10 years after the last edition of Gardom/Milner's book, this book became the new archetypal NHD. This book does everything Gardom/Milner's book does, but mostly bigger & better ( ). In fact, if I could, I'd give this book an extra star for being extra authoritative (I.e. An extra half star for the NHM & an extra half star for the Smithsonian). In other words, this is a 6-star book.

Honorable Mention) Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs": This book is the best children's NHD. There are 2 main reasons for why I think that is, besides the fact that this book is an updated version of a childhood classic:* 1) It's the best at emphasizing the safari aspect of natural history; This makes sense given that it's authored by Bakker ( ); 2) It's the best at reminding readers that "the dinosaur story is our story, too"; Put another way, to quote Barton ( ), "we’re part of the natural world along with every creature great and small, plant, rock, wave, and breeze...We must care for our planet not just for ourselves to remain, but for all of our extended family".

*To paraphrase Paleoaerie ( ), this book is the "totally updated edition" of "the classic book that most people old enough to be parents grew up on". Thus, to paraphrase Earl Sinclair ( ), "this [book] works on two levels!"

Friday, July 20, 2018

Craig's Latest

For anyone paying attention (and I don't expect that to be many of you ;) ) I've been threatening a palaeoart project for quite sometime. The project kept dying in its tracks partially due to paying (board game) gigs, but also my over ambition.

I'd kept dreaming of doing animations for Youtube, but of course animation is very time consuming and hard. So I'd be overwhelmed fairly quickly.

However it has recently occurred to me why do I need animation for little sci videoes? Why not just do a series of storyboard style illustrations with narration?

So thus my big break through!

Here is a sample of what I'm up to now. Let me know what you think of the style.

I assure you this is not pure fan art. I'm planning on tearing this scene from the recent motion picture apart scientifically in a quick little kid friendly video.

Again I'm the guy who put together this Mosasaur Jurassic World size chart back in the day... 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

My 24th 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 "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" 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:
-My 11th-20th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 21st Pair of Reviews":
-"My 22nd Pair of Reviews":
-"My 23rd Pair of Reviews":

The best edition ( ): 4/5

As far as I know, there are 5 editions of "Dinosaur (DK Eyewitness Books)" (henceforth DD 1989/2004/2008/2010/2014). As much as I love DD, it was never truly great: For 1, see the Ben quote; What Ben says about "the AMNH fossil halls" goes for DD; For another, DD is a mixed bag in terms of paleoart.* If you want the current best DD-style book, get Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs". If I were to recommend reading an edition of DD in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs"), it'd be DD 2004. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why that is.

1) In reference to "For 1" (which mainly refers to DD 1989), DD 2004 partially solves this problem with "8 pages of new text", all of which are "distinctly color-coded". This is especially apparent in the "Find out more" & Glossary sections: The former lists some of the best dino museums in the U.S. & their websites (which is good because [1] it makes DD interactive, & [2] to quote Norman/Milner, "You can also take a virtual tour of many museums over the internet if you cannot visit them in person"); The latter clearly explains all technical terms. DD 2008 is almost exactly the same in content, the problem being that much of what was accurate in 2004 was inaccurate in 2008 (E.g. The records for "biggest dinosaur", "biggest meat-eater", & "shortest dinosaur name"). DD 2010/2014 have the opposite problem as DD 1989. While DD 1989 is too esoteric, DD 2010/2014 are too simple & condescending (E.g. "Hadrosaur" is defined 10 times throughout DD 2010, including twice on page 70). & if that's not bad enough, DD 2010/2014 are even more inaccurate for their time (probably because they're authored by a non-expert) & exclude said websites.

2) In reference to "For another", DD 2004 partially solves this problem with "stunning real-life photographs of dinosaur bones, skulls, teeth and more". This is especially apparent in the "and more" photos: Many of DD 1989's not-so-good life reconstructions, most of which were outdated even in 1989, were replaced in DD 2004 (E.g. Hill & Winterbotham's tail-dragging Mamenchisaurus & Diplodocus, respectively, were replaced by a herd of Graham High's Brachiosaurus); Many of those that weren't replaced got new captions (E.g. The new caption for Graham High's Deinonychus reads, "Most scientists now agree that, unlike the model shown here, Deinonychus was probably feathered"). Pixel-shack's bad life reconstructions started to replace DD's good ones in 2008 & almost completely took over in 2010/2014. Pixel-shack's "DK 2003" Velociraptor ( ) replacing the AMNH's "Fighting Dinos" Velociraptor ( ) is an especially good example of that.

*I'm specifically referring to DD's life reconstructions, many of which are not-so-good (I.e. Those by various illustrators & Pixel-shack in the older & newer editions, respectively).

Quoting Ben ( ): "Within the actual fossil halls, interpretation remains stubbornly unapproachable. For example, the sign introducing proboscidians tells visitors that this group is defined primarily by eye sockets located near the snout. An observant visitor might wonder why scientists rely on such an obscure detail, as opposed to the obvious trunks and tusks. There’s a good teaching moment there concerning why some characteristics might face more selection pressure (and thus change more radically) than others, but instead visitors are only offered esoteric statements. Relatedly, the exhibit does little to prioritize information. Most label text is quite small, and there’s a lot of it. Compare this to Evolving Planet at the Field Museum, where there is a clear hierarchy of headings and sub-headings. Visitors can read the main point of a display without even stopping, and parents can quickly find relevant information to answer their charges’ questions (rather than making something up).
Evolving Planet also compares favorably to the AMNH fossil halls in its informative aesthetics and spatial logic. At FMNH, walls and signs in each section are distinctly color-coded, making transitions obvious and intuitive. Likewise, consistent iconography...such as the mass extinction zones...helps visitors match recurring themes and topics throughout the exhibit. AMNH, in contrast, has a uniform glass and white-walled Apple Store aesthetic. It’s visually appealing, but doesn’t do much to help visitors navigate the space in a meaningful way."

Definitely NOT the best ( ): 1/5

In my experience, when a non-fiction dino book is given a superlative title, it's being set up for failure. As far as I know, only 1 such book lives up to its title & Maynard's "The Best Book of Dinosaurs" (henceforth BB) is definitely NOT it or even just decent in its own right.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) BB's life reconstructions are mostly not-so-good. Those by Kirk are as good as it gets in BB, while those by Forsey are as bad as it gets: In reference to Kirk, the ornithischians & Barosaurus are depicted with too many claws; Otherwise, the dinos are mostly accurate for the time & completely awesome for all time (E.g. See the Deinonychus on the back cover, which have tiger stripes & a lightning storm background); In reference to Forsey, I've already said everything I have to say about him in my Wonder review (I.e. "Wonder's more realistic reconstructions": ); Unfortunately, most of BB's life reconstructions are by Forsey. Those by Field fall somewhere in between, but more towards Forsey (E.g. See the Triceratops on the front cover, which have cartoonishly angry eyes & 4 clawed fingers per hand).

2) BB is a confusing mess in terms of organization. There isn't even an Introduction. BB just begins with a chapter about baby dinos & continues with no logical transitions or flow between the chapters.

3) BB fails to cover many dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner:** Sometimes, it simplifies things to the point of being meaningless; This is especially apparent in the chapter about the dino extinction because 1) the main text explains nothing about the science behind the dino extinction story, & 2) the sidebar text needlessly re-tells said story; Other times, it's just plain wrong; This is especially apparent in said chapter because it's claimed that 1) the asteroid "hit Earth in Central America" (Last I checked, Mexico =/= Central America), & 2) only "some scientists think that dinosaurs were the ancestors of modern birds" (Quoting Witmer from a 1995 book: "There are so many derived similarities between birds and these Deinonychus-like theropod dinosaurs that most paleontologists today believe birds are theropod dinosaurs!").

*By "1 such book", I mean Holtz's "Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages" ("Dinosaurs" for short).

**By "many", I mean half of all the dino-related subjects a decent introduction to dinos would cover. Using Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs" as a guide, BB fails to cover "The dinosaur world", "Getting about", "Living animals", "Dinosaurs and people", & "Dinosaurs and birds".

Sunday, May 20, 2018

My 23rd 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:
-My 11th-20th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 21st Pair of Reviews":
-"My 22nd Pair of Reviews":,204,203,200_.jpg

Mostly good, part 1 ( ): 4/5

Hone's "The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: The Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs" (henceforth TC) is mostly good, especially when it comes to describing key scientific concepts (E.g. Classification in Part 1). I say that b/c, unlike most of my positive reviews, this 1 is about TC's problems.

1) The paleoart is seriously lacking: For 1, most of the illustrations (I.e. Hartman's skeletal reconstructions) are great, but too small for good comparisons; For another, said illustrations are few & far between (I.e. Most of the chapters have only 1 illustration, 3 at most, & 5 of them have none); For yet another, there's only 1 life reconstruction in TC's entirety (I.e. Hartman's T.rex). This is especially problematic because, according to Hone, TC is meant for casual readers, yet it's laid out more like an enthusiast's book (I.e. Mostly black-&-white pages with a series of color plates). To put this in perspective, Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" is an enthusiast's book of similar length & layout, yet it has at least 3 illustrations per chapter, more in most, including a multi-species scene by Skrepnick at the beginning of every chapter.

2) The "scaly Tyrannosaurus" & "larger females" hypotheses are very misrepresented. Depending on the context, I don't mind if 1 or 2 non-major hypotheses are misrepresented once or twice.* My Riddle review shows what happens when many major hypotheses are misrepresented on many levels ( ). However, while not as major as "Birds Are Dinosaurs", "scaly Tyrannosaurus" & "larger females" do have major implications for tyrannosaur biology, among other things (See the Willoughby & Bakker quotes, respectively). In reference to the former, the evidence for it is "essentially" ignored, while "a liberal coating of feathers" is taken as a given. Yes, said evidence hadn't yet been described in detail, but it had been mentioned in the technical literature. In reference to the latter, the problem is more layered. See "Review update #45 (It's a big 1)!" for how:

In short, I recommend reading TC in conjunction with 1) GSPaul's "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs" for larger skeletal reconstructions & more life reconstructions, & 2) the Neal & Peter Larson chapters in Larson/Carpenter's "Tyrannosaurus rex, the Tyrant King" for more pre-TC info about T.rex skin & sexual dimorphism.

*E.g. In Chapter 10, Hone claims that "Richard Owen...regarded dinosaurs as giant lizards" in terms of physiology. That's not right (Quoting Owen: "The Dinosaurs, having the same thoracic structure as the Crocodiles, may be concluded to have possessed a four-chambered heart; and, from their superior adaptation to terrestrial life, to have enjoyed the function of such a highly-organized centre of circulation to a degree more nearly approaching that which now characterizes the warm-blooded Vertebrata"). Also, in Chapter 14, Hone claims that "the discovery of multiple remains of the famous dromaeosaurid Deinonychus with bones of the ornithischian mostly the limit of the evidence in support of the [pack hunting large prey] hypothesis". Depending on what he means by "large prey", that's not right either (Google "Taphonomy and Paleobiological Implications of Tenontosaurus-Deinonychus Associations" & "Days of the Deinos" for the technical & popular versions, respectively).
Quoting Willoughby ( ): "Along a similar vein, Kenneth Carpenter (1997) has pointed out evidence of Gorgosaurus scale imprints that have been known for at least twenty years, but have never been formally published. Research can of course take many years to publish for a myriad of reasons, but it seems highly likely that had these imprints been of feathers, they'd been published almost immediately. It seems like there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that more readily publishes research that is exciting and interesting because it conforms so smoothly with the dominant paradigm, when conflicting research that challenges some of these established lines of thinking might ultimately result in a more robust and less flawed theory overall." 
Quoting Bakker (See "Raptor Red"): "Female dominance is a powerful piece of evidence that permits us to reconstruct the private lives of Cretaceous predatory dinosaurs. A family structure built around a large female is rare in meat-eating reptiles and mammals today, but it's the rule for one category of predatory species...carnivorous birds. Owls, hawks, and eagles have societies organized around female dominance, and we can think of tyrannosaurs and raptors as giant, ground-running eagles.",204,203,200_.jpg

Stop liking things! ( ): 1/5

I was originally planning on reviewing Stan/Jan's "The Berenstain Bears and the Dinosaurs" (henceforth BB) the way I usually review bad dino books. However, I then remembered that Trish/Talcott's BB review is so perfect (especially when it comes to criticizing BB's art & message: ) that I can't possibly top it, so I won't even try. Instead, in this review, I'll point you to Trish/Talcott's BB review & add my own thoughts as well:
-The part around 13:00 reminds me of the "I Love Dinosaurs" series. I'm surprised said series isn't mentioned by name.
-The parts around 14:00 & 17:00 remind me of the Holtz quote below. More specifically, "it feels like...the creatures in the mind of a concerned parent whose only knowledge of [dinos] comes from the films of the 30s" (& thus, has "more in common with medieval bestiaries, conjured from rumor and imagination alone"). Furthermore, not only are said creatures inconsistent with "these [dino] skeletons on this page", but said skeletons are inconsistent with "the fossil skeletons on which [they're] based."
-The parts around 16:00 & 20:00 remind me of "The Berenstain Bears' Nature Guide": Not only do the Berenstain Bears explore "the whole of nature" (including non-bird dinos), but 1) they do so with Actual Factual (who supplies "actual facts about nature"), & 2) "they're happy" to spend the day together doing so; Keep in mind that this book was published 9 years before BB.
-The part around 30-32:00 sums up part of the reason why "The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream" does BB's story better, the other part being that Mama & Papa don't "take advantage of Brother's fear to talk him out of...his new interest".
-The part around 31-33:00 reminds me of 1) Switek's "Paleontological Profiles: Robert Bakker" (To quote Bakker, "We dino-scientists have a great responsibility: our subject matter attracts kids better than any other, except rocket-science"; This interview is especially good at showing both why an interest in dinos is good & why BB's message is bad), & 2) Waldrop/Loomis' "Ranger Rick's Dinosaur Book" (which is 1 of the "better kids' books of the time": ).
-The part around 37:00 reminds me of Jan/Mike's "The Berenstain Bears' Dinosaur Dig" (which also does BB's story better).*
-At around 39:00, they recommend Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs" & Holtz's "Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages", but forget the author & title, respectively (which surprises me given that [1] they mentioned "The Dinosaur Heresies" at around 9:00, & [2] Holtz's book has the best title ever).

*For 1, both Brother & Sister take an interest in dinos. For another, not only does Actual Factual encourage their interest, but he also takes them on a tour of a dino dig. For yet another, this book begins & ends with 2 important messages (See the Jan/Mike & Papa quotes, respectively).
Quoting Holtz ( ): "Paleoart is, admittedly, a difficult enterprise: after all, its subject matter is long dead, and science can never expect to know very much about the creaturers' external surfaces or, for that matter, any of their other perishable features. Nevertheless, there is one inviolate rule of dinosaur restoration: if the known fossil skeleton conflicts with the shape of the reconstruction, the reconstruction must be wrong. That rule gives the casual reader at least a fighting chance of separating the wheat from the chaff: distinguishing books that depict restorations consistent with fossil specimens from books that have more in common with medieval bestiaries, conjured from rumor and imagination alone. One reliable clue that a book belongs to the former group is the inclusion of drawings or photographs of the fossil skeletons on which the restorations are based." 
Quoting Jan/Mike: "A special kind of beast lived very long ago.
Its different forms and names are very good to know." 
Quoting Papa (in reference to sitting on Sister's Stegosaurus toy): "Sister...I'm delighted that you and Brother have this wonderful new interest. But...the Jurassic Age will just have to settle for the coffee table."

Monday, February 19, 2018

My 22nd 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:
-My 11th-20th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 21st Pair of Reviews":

How to REALLY build a dino ( ): 5/5

Short version: Cooley/Wilson's "Make-a-saurus: My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs" (henceforth Life) may be the best children's dino book when it comes to showing kids how to build a dino. I recommend reading Life in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved" in general & Chapter 3 in particular).

Long version: Read on.

This review's title is a reference to Horner/Gorman's "How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever" (which, to paraphrase Kosemen, should've been called "[How to build a] sort of dinosaur look-alike retarded monstrosity").* Point is, to quote Willoughby ( ), "paleontology is unique in that there is no equivalent method of using film to capture the reality of its natural subjects...we must paint, sculpt and draw to bring these animals to life." Life may be the best children's dino book when it comes to showing kids how to do that. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) As you may remember, Life was 1 of the books that got me into feathered dinos, along with Sloan's "Feathered Dinosaurs". Cooley's life-like models of feathered dinos are 1 of the main reasons why that is (See reason #1: ).

2) Life provides a lot of background info. This is especially apparent in the introductory section: 1st, Currie explains why art is important to his science (See the Currie quote); Then, Cooley explains why science is important to his art (See the Cooley quote); Last, "The World of Sinornithosaurus" tells a day-in-the-life story of the Sinornithosaurus specimen Cooley's model is based on; More specifically, it tells a story of how said specimen lived, died, & became fossilized.

3) Similarly to Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs", Life uses a "popular approach [that] not only accurately mirrors the methods used by [paleoartists in creating] dinosaurs, but also satisfies the overwhelming curiosity of people to know what dinosaurs were like when alive" ( ). This is especially apparent in the main sections: 1st, Cooley explains the paleoartistic process without dumbing down; Then, Cooley shows readers how they can adapt said process using tools & materials around their house (E.g. Instead of beginning "with a welded steel armature," they can make an armature using "rolled-up newspaper, wire, foam and tape, even balloons"); Last, Cooley shows readers how they can go 1 step beyond & create dino environments (I.e. Dioramas, which are the best dino exhibits).

If I could, I'd give Life a 4.5/5. My only gripes are a few weird bits in the text (E.g. Dino scales, which are non-overlapping, are compared to lizard scales, which are mostly overlapping) & writing (E.g. Liaoning is misspelled as Laioning). However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5.

*Google "Is it Possible to Re-Create a Dinosaur from a Chicken?"
Quoting Currie: "Even with all my training and experience, I still learn a lot when Brian asks me how the bones of a skeleton actually go together. Often we end up pulling bones out of the Museum's collections so we can consider how they fit together and how the muscles were attached. Most people can learn more by building models than by just looking at museum displays and books." 
Quoting Cooley: "Life takes us in marvelous directions and, as luck would have it, the first job I found upon graduating from art school was sculpting a volcano for the Calgary Zoo's new Prehistoric Park. That led to making a dinosaur for a company in Vancouver. My wife, artist Mary Ann Wilson, worked on that dinosaur with me, and since then we have completed many dinosaurs together. While doing research for that project, Mary Ann and I met Dr. Philip J. Currie, who was soon to become one of the world's most prominent paleontologists. It was Dr. Currie whose enthusiasm and riveting stories about new discoveries and theories rekindled my passion for dinosaurs. Twenty years since that meeting, I'm still making dinosaurs".

Bad dino doc + bad dino movie ( ): 1/5

Short version: As far as I know, most dino time travel books aren't meant to be educational. Of those that are, I recommend reading White's "Dinosaur Hunter: The Ultimate Guide to the Biggest Game" in conjunction with other, more educational books (E.g. Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved"). Miller/Blasing's "Dinosaur George and the Paleonauts: Raptor Island" (henceforth DG) fails at being either a decent educational book or a decent science fiction book.

Long version: Read on.

As you may remember, I said that "Jurassic Fight Club" is 1 of the worst dino docs ( ). Despite this, I originally thought that DG was going to be better than JFC given that dino books are usually better than dino docs. Boy, was I wrong about DG! Not only is DG as bad as JFC in some ways, but also as bad as the movie "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (henceforth JP2) in other ways. In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I think that is, besides the annoyingly-repetitive writing.*

1) In DG, George is the only well-defined/developed character, & not in a good way: He's basically an 18-year-old male version of Sarah Harding from JP2 (I.e. A "naive, impulsive paleontologist...whose dumb decisions constantly put the team in greater danger");** This is especially apparent when he 1st compares the Saichania's poor eyesight to that of rhinos, but then makes a sudden move; Similarly, in JP2, Sarah 1st explains "the dangers of the bull rex tracking the group with its powerful olfactory sense, but [then] brings the jacket coated in the infant's blood with her as they flee."** The other Paleonauts are just character archetypes. More specifically, Vince Witmer is "The Lancer", Lloyd Lance is "The Big Guy", Parker Holtz is "The Smart Guy", & Sonya Currie is "The Chick".** There's also Professor Stone & Dr. Morgan, but they're only in Chapter 1.

2) In some ways, DG's dromaeosaurs are better than JFC's (E.g. They're more fully feathered, though not entirely). In other ways, DG's dromaeosaurs are worse than JFC's (E.g. They have whip-like tails). In still other ways, they're about the same (E.g. They're "super persistent" predators of "impossibly large prey").** This is especially apparent in Chapter 8, when a pack of 30 flightless, blue jay-sized "mini-raptors" attack George over & over again despite being blasted with a surge gun & attacked by a 20-ft constrictor, among other things. Put another way, Chapter 8 is basically an extreme version of JP2's "Compy Attack" scene.

3) I have 2 major problems with DG's story: 1) It's dependent on the reader caring about the characters; See reason #1 above for why that's a major problem; 2) As indicated by its sub-title, DG mostly takes place on/around Raptor Island in Southern Asia, presumably the Gobi region given that that's where all the dinos are from; The problem is that's near the center of the continent, & it's not like Asia ever had an inland sea like the Western Interior Sea of North America; In other words, DG's story is dependent on a setting that could never have existed.

4) DG's text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in "PaleoFacts" because the misses stick out more with less text.*** However, the main text misses may be worse in degree: Like JFC's misses, some of DG's are due to being very outdated (E.g. Compare the Miller/Blasing quote to the Naish/Barrett quote; It's also worth mentioning that Sauropoda is a suborder or infraorder, not a family); Also like JFC's misses, some of DG's are due to being very nonsensical (E.g. "A creature, about the size of an owl, suddenly swooped down from its perch above and grabbed the lizard in midair. At first, George thought it must have been some sort of bird, but when it landed on the ground it quickly ran into the woods on only its back legs. It was no bird. It was a flying dinosaur!").

*E.g. The fact that George dislikes guns is stated 4 times in the span of 1 chapter, including twice in the same paragraph.

**Google "The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Film) - TV Tropes" & "Raptor Attack - TV Tropes" for reasons #1 & #2, respectively.

***In "PaleoFacts" alone, it's claimed that Nemegtosaurus was 7 m tall & 15.2 m long (More like 2.46 m tall & 12 m long), Saichania was 2.4 m tall (More like 1.3 m tall), Plesiosaurus was 7 m long & 3 tons (More like 3-5 m long & 150 kg), Plesiosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous (It didn't), Bactrosaurus means "Bactrian lizard" (It doesn't), & Tylosaurus was 20 tons (More like 4.5 tons), among other things.
Quoting Miller/Blasing: "George knew this species. His uncle taught him a lot growing up. Because of that, he knew by the end of the Jurassic Period nearly all members of the Sauropod family had become extinct. A few species managed to survive all the way to the end of the late Cretaceous Period when they, along with all other non-avian dinosaurs, became extinct. The majority of the long necks that survived into late Cretaceous were from the Titanosaurus family. Although not as large as their earlier cousins, they were still massive dinosaurs and among the largest living things on earth by the end of the Cretaceous Period." 
Quoting Naish/Barrett (See "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved"): "As recently as the 1990s it was thought that sauropods were a mostly Jurassic event and that they had largely disappeared by the Cretaceous. We now know that this view was completely inaccurate, and that sauropods were a major presence on many continents throughout much of the Cretaceous. And, rather than being stagnant or static in evolutionary terms, they were constantly evolving new anatomical features and new ways of cropping plants."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Raptor-related donations and edits

1stly, Scott Madsen needs help raising funds for "The Utahraptor Project" ( ). I'm spreading the word & giving Scott some money for 2 main reasons: 1) "Among the predators, at least six Utahraptors have been tentatively identified...two adults, each 5 to 6 meters in length; three juveniles about the size of turkeys; “and one that’s tiny, a little bitty baby with all the teeth in it — beautiful”" ( ); This is probably evidence of hawk-like gregariousness in Utahraptor (See "DevLog #24": ); 2) "The exposed bones also suggest that Utahraptor looked quite different from previous projections. While the juveniles are long and lanky in the classic raptor mold, the adult appears to have packed on mass to deal with bigger prey. “The front end of the jaw is unlike any other meat-eating dinosaur I’ve ever seen...It’s not just a blown-up Velociraptor. This thing is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or a Sherman tank”" ( ); This is especially apparent in Hartman's "new Utahraptor skeletal" ( ).

2ndly, my dino-building friend & fellow Facebooker, Chris Kastner ( ), needs help raising funds for his "Velociraptor Enclosure Rebuild" ( ). I'm spreading the word & giving Chris some money for 2 main reasons, besides the fact that he's a friend in need: 1) Chris provides a very important service (See "My name is Chris Kastner": ); 2) Chris is 1 of the best at providing said service (See "Question 10": ).

3rdly, I recently edited "My 1st dino-related career activity!" ( ) & "The Saurian Dakotaraptor could be better" ( ), the original versions of which didn't say enough about their raptor-related awesomeness.

This post is partly in honor of National Bird Day (which was on 1/5/17: ), & partly in honor of Ostrom's 90th birthday (which is on 2/18/18: ). Here's hoping everyone reading this post spreads the word & gives Scott & Chris some money too.

Monday, November 20, 2017

My 21st 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:
-My 11th-20th Pairs of Reviews:,204,203,200_.jpg

Dino ecology yay! ( ): 5/5

Bonner's "Dining With Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching" (henceforth Guide) is basically a cross between Chapter 5 of Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" (I.e. "Solar Eating") & the "Dinosaur Block Party" episode of "Dinosaur Train", but better. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Like "Solar Eating", Guide examines the different trophic levels of Mesozoic ecosystems, beginning with "mega carnivores" (E.g. T.rex) & ending with "trashivores" (I.e. Detritivores & decomposers). Also like "Solar Eating", Guide explains how food webs & photosynthesis work. In fact, Guide does the latter even better: For 1, instead of using a trophic pyramid to explain food webs, Guide uses a trophic layer cake (To paraphrase Gaffigan, "[Pyramids] can't compete with cake"); For another, instead of explaining photosynthesis in a paragraph of text, Guide explains it in a recipe with step-by-step directions & pictures showing how to create "SUGAR FROM SUNSHINE".

2) Like "Dinosaur Block Party", Guide is hosted by a human & a dino (I.e. Bonner & "her Microraptor pal"), who compare the features of different organisms in each trophic level. Also like "Dinosaur Block Party", Guide reconstructs entire Mesozoic ecosystems (E.g. That of the Jehol Group) & interviews experts about the science behind said reconstructions (I.e. "Ask a Scientist"). In fact, Guide does the latter even better: For 1, Guide's reconstructions are similarly cartoony, but MUCH more accurate; "The insectivores" is an especially good example of that ( ); For another, Guide's interviews don't just tell about said science, but also show it; "Mini carnivores and omnivores" is an especially good example of that ( ).

My only nit-picks with Guide are the paleoart (which, while still good, is sketchier & less defined than Bonner's previous work) & the lack of explanatory/identifying text in some parts (which, while few & far between, is still weird for a book both by Bonner & for older kids).* With that in mind, I recommend reading Guide as 1) an introduction to dino ecology for younger kids, & 2) a transition to other, more adult books (E.g. Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved" in general & Chapter 4 in particular) for older kids.

*In reference to the paleoart, don't take my word for it. Compare the cover of Guide to that of Bonner's "When Fish Got Feet, When Bugs Were Big, and When Dinos Dawned: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life on Earth". In reference to the lack of explanatory/identifying text, I'm specifically referring to "The raptors: midsize predators" & "Who ate who"/"Who eats who today?": The former makes a "Raptor Prey Restraint" reference ("The raptors couldn't fly, but feathered arms may have been used...for keeping their balance during an attack"), but doesn't explain it; The latter are meant to draw parallels between Mesozoic & modern ecosystems, yet only "Who ate who" identifies the different organisms in its ecosystem.,204,203,200_.jpg

Where's the substance? ( ): 2/5

If you want a substantial children's dino book about what we do & don't know, get Kudlinski's "Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs!" (henceforth Boy) & read it in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs"). It helps that Kudlinkski & Schindler are 1) very well-read, as indicated by the bibliography, & 2) collaborators with experts (I.e. Brinkman, Butler, & Norell). I can't say the same about Hort & O'Brien. As far as I know, Hort's "Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza?: Mysteries Science Hasn't Solved" (henceforth Pizza) has neither a bibliography nor any expert collaboration & it shows in the lack of substance. In this review, I list the 3 main indications of that lack of substance.

1) Unlike Boy (which has a roughly chronological format, beginning with the discovery of Iguanodon & ending with the discovery of the Chinese feathered dinos), Pizza consists of a bunch of so-called "Mysteries Science Hasn't Solved" scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason. Each mystery is illustrated with dinos doing things we know they didn't do, so maybe Pizza's title was supposed to tie all the mysteries together. However, since Pizza's content has nothing to do with eating pizza, it's just a confusing mess.

2) Unlike Boy (which is illustrated with mostly-good cartoon dinos & page-by-page comparisons of what people used to think vs. what we think now), Pizza is illustrated with mostly-bad cartoon dinos (E.g. O'Brien's T.rex is basically a cartoon version of Solonevich's Antrodemus: ). Not only are the dinos themselves bad, but they make a lot of the text misleading: It's claimed that "different scientists can disagree by as much as [20 or 30] tons in estimating weights"; While this is technically true when it comes to sauropods, it's illustrated with a Styracosaurus (which weighed between 1 & 4 tons) outweighing an entire family farm.

3) Unlike Boy (which has mostly-accurate text that uses multiple lines of evidence to show why we think what we think), Pizza has a lot of misleading or wrong text, partly because of the aforementioned illustrations, & partly because it refers to many non-mysteries as mysteries (hence the "so-called" in indication #1 above). This is especially apparent in the text about T.rex & birds (E.g. See the Hort quotes, which fail on many levels).*

*They fail to get the facts straight (E.g. Giganotosaurus & Spinosaurus were larger; To quote Hendrickson, "I feel very sure, as do 99 percent of all dinosaur paleontologists, that T. rex was a predator"); They fail to understand how ecology works (Quoting GSPaul: "The idea that animals as big as most theropods were true scavengers is ecologically unfeasible"); They fail to understand how evolution works (If "birds evolved from dinosaurs," then they ARE "considered dinosaurs"); They fail to understand that, "scientifically, traditions are an idiot thing" ( ); They fail to understand that, traditionally, "the word dinosaur" refers to non-bird dinos, not "extinct dinosaur species of the Mesozoic Era" (which include many bird species).
Quoting Hort: "Tyrannosaurus rex may have been the largest meat eater ever. But the jury is still out on whether T. rex mostly hunted for its food or mostly scavenged to find dinner that was already dead." 
Quoting Hort: "Most scientists now agree that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and a convincing case can be made that, as long as birds survive, dinosaurs aren't really extinct. Since there is still some disagreement on whether birds should be considered dinosaurs, I have followed tradition in using the word dinosaur to refer only to extinct dinosaur species of the Mesozoic Era."

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Saurian Dakotaraptor could be better

In terms of ecology/behavior, the "Dinosaurs in the Wild" Dakotaraptor is better. More on that below:

Long story short, I disagreed w/the ecological/behavioral depiction of the Saurian Dakotaraptor & provided contradictory evidence (which I think is more in line w/the generally agreed-upon hypothesis that "Dromaeosaurs Are Terrestrial Hawks": ) in my Saurian DevLog comments. I originally wasn't planning on posting modified versions of said comments here. However, since the Saurian team never got back to me, I figured this post might be a good way to 1) find out more from readers about the Saurian team's reasoning, & 2) remind readers to always think critically about what they're reading.

P.S. In terms of ecology/behavior, the "Dinosaurs in the Wild" Dakotaraptor is better. More specifically, it "has an extensive plumage, nests in colonies, and behaves like a big, flightless hawk" ( ). This is especially apparent in the hatchery ( ).

DevLog #22

Sorry for commenting on DevLog #19 here, but it took me a while to get all my thoughts together in writing. I wasn't even sure if I should comment at all: For 1, I get that it's probably too late to make changes at this stage of the Saurian-making process; For another, I get that you guys probably have valid reasons for the ecological/behavioral depictions in Saurian. However, I decided that, just like when reviewing books, contradictory evidence should always be made known whether or not it changes anything. At the very least, maybe it'll help for future reference.

"but parents will not bond to their children or partners. This means that Dakotaraptor hatchlings will generally try to follow one of their parents while simultaneously searching for food and water, while their parents will mostly ignore them and go about their business. Players can rely on the presence of their parents to help defend from some certain threats, but the parents won’t hesitate to abandon them if they are threatened. At a certain age, the hatchlings will start to see their parents as threats, and their parents will see them as food, so they will part ways" ( ).

1stly, in reference to parent-parent bonding, see the Varricchio et al., Zelenitsky/Therrien, & Mike quotes. They discuss evidence suggesting that at least some deinonychosaurs, including a probable dromaeosaurid, formed cooperative mated pairs that worked together to build nests &, presumably, raise young.

2ndly, in reference to parent-child bonding, see the Horner quote AWA the page 10 abstract in this link. They discuss evidence suggesting that at least some small to medium-sized tetanurines, including a deinonychosaur, had semi-precocial young:

There are other quotes discussing related evidence, but this comment is running long. If you want to see said quotes, let me know & I'll include them in another comment.
Quoting Varricchio et al. ( ): "The longer time required by coelurosaurians to generate a clutch with monoautochronic ovulation  and brooding may have necessitated a longer pair-bond between mates and greater parental investment in coelurosaurians like Troodon in comparison with typical crocodilians." 
Quoting Zelenitsky/Therrien ( ): "Montanoolithus strongorum is only the second type of maniraptoran clutch known from North America, after that of Troodon formosus (Horner and Weishampel 1996; Varricchio et al. 1997, 1999). Our cladistic analysis reveals that TMP 2007.4.1 belongs to a maniraptoran theropod that is phylogenetically bracketed by Citipati (Oviraptoridae) and Troodon (Troodontidae) + Numida (Aves); the basal position of Deinonychus in this analysis may be due to missing data (50%) for this taxon. The phylogenetic position of Montanoolithus within Maniraptora indicates that this taxon is more derived than Oviraptoridae but less derived than Troodontidae. The only maniraptorans (besides Troodon) known from the Two Medicine and Oldman formations of North America are caenagnathids and dromaeosaurids (Weishampel et al. 2004), which represent the most probable egg-layers of Montanoolithus. However, the crownwards position of Montanoolithus relative to oviraptorids may support a dromaeosaurid affinity." 
Quoting Mike ( ): "By studying the fossil the scientists have been able to determine that this dinosaur dug its nest in freshly deposited, loose sand, possibly along the shore of a river. An analysis of the substrate under the actual fossil indicates that the dinosaur disrupted the rock underneath, indicating that there was a substantial amount of effort put into the digging when excavating the nest. Perhaps this indicates that the mated pair worked together". 
Quoting Horner ( ): "Data from Egg Mountain and Egg Island now provide extensive evidence to hypothesize the nesting behaviors of Troodon and the paleoecology of its nesting ground. The animals nested in colonies, used the nesting ground on at least three different occasions, constructed nests with rimmed borders, arranged their eggs in neat, circular clutches, brooded their eggs by direct body contact, and, apparently brought the carcasses of Orodromeus to the nesting area for their hatchlings to feed on. The hatchlings left their respective nests, but may have stayed in the nesting area for a short period of time before following the adults out of the nesting ground."
DevLog #24 (For whatever reason, the original version of this comment isn't visible)

Sorry for repeating this comment from DevLog #23, but for whatever reason, it never got officially approved there (which is especially weird given that 5 troll comments by Garrus got approved here). Anyway, to add to my DevLog #22 comment ("There are other quotes discussing related evidence, but this comment is running long. If you want to see said quotes, let me know & I’ll include them in another comment": ):
-The Britt et al. quotes discuss evidence of hawk-like gregariousness in Utahraptor ("Through observation in New Mexico over a period of years, Dr. Bednarz has determined that hawk families -- generally two primary breeders, some younger adults and some immature yearlings -- form hunting parties each morning": ).
-The Bakker quote discusses evidence of hawk-like "family values" in allosaurs that also applies to velociraptorines ("Juvenile teeth display the same features as those of adults, but on a smaller scale": ).
Quoting Britt et al. (See "4.2.2. Dinosaurs", page 5: ): "The number of identifiable specimens, NISP, of dinosaurs in our collection is 2069 (excluding 590 ankylosaur osteoderms) and the MNI is 67. These numbers are the basis for the comparisons presented here. Theropods are unusually abundant at DW (NISP= 227; MNI= 13), comprising 11% of the dinosaurian NISP and 19% of the dinosaurian MNI. The dromaeosaurid theropod, Utahraptor, dominates the theropod assemblage, and is represented by 62 teeth and 146 bones pertaining to at least nine individuals (based on hind limb elements), including 2 adults, 3 subadults, and 4 juveniles." 
Quoting Britt et al. (See "5.5. Historical taphonomic history of the Dalton Wells bone beds", page 14: ): "The presence of clusters of partial carcasses of Gastonia, Venenosaurus, and the iguanodontid, suggest that groups of these taxa died and were introduced enmasse to the thanatocoenose. Accordingly, we speculate that these, and possibly other well-represented taxa at DW (basal macronarian, Utahraptor, other sauropods) were gregarious." 
Quoting Bakker (See Wolberg's "Dinofest International: Proceedings of a Symposium Sponsored By Arizona State University", page 62): "A striking difference exists in modern communities between cold-blooded predators and hot-blooded predators. Most bird and mammal species feed their young until the youngsters are almost full size; then and only then do the young set out to hunt on their own. Consequently, the very young mammals and birds do not chose food items independently of the parents. Young lions and eagles feed on parts of carcasses from relatively large prey killed by the parents. Most snakes, lizards, and turtles do not feed the young after birth, and the new-born reptiles must find prey suitably diminutive to fit the size of the baby reptilian jaws and teeth. A single individual lizard during its lifetime usually feeds over a much wider size range of prey than a single individual weasel or hawk, because the lizard begins its life hunting independently.
Therefore, a predatory guild of three lizard species with adult weights 10g, 100g and 1000g would require a much wider range of prey size than a guild of three mammal predator species with the same adult weights. If allosaurs had a lizard-like parental behavior, then each individual allosaur would require a wide size range in prey as it grew up. The evidence of the Como lair sites strongly suggests that the dinosaur predatory guild was constructed more like that of hot-blooded carnivores than that of lizards or snakes.
This theory receives support from the shape of the baby allosaur teeth. In many cold-blooded reptilian predators today, the crown shape in the very young is quite different from the adult crown shape. For example, hatchling alligators have the same number of tooth sockets in each jaw as do the adults, but the hatchling crowns are very much sharper and more delicate. In the hatchling all the teeth are nearly the same shape, and the young gators have less differentiation of crown size and shape along the tooth row; the hatchlings lack the massive, projecting canine teeth and the very broad, acorn-shaped posterior crowns of the adults. Young gators feed extensively on water insects, and the sharp crowns are designed for such insectivorous habits. Adult gator species use their canine teeth for killing large prey, such as deer, and employ the acorn crowns to crush large water snails and turtles (Chabreck, 1971; Delaney and Abercrombie, 1986; McNease and Joanen, 1977; Web et al, 1987).
If allosaur hatchlings fed independent of adults, I would not expect the hatchling tooth crowns to be the same over-all shape as that of the adult. However, the over-all tooth crown shape in the tiniest allosaur IS identical to that of the adult (figs. 3,4). Thus it appears that hatchlings were feeding on prey tissue of the same general texture and consistency as that fed upon by adults."

Monday, September 18, 2017

My 20th 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:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 18th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 19th Pair of Reviews":,204,203,200_.jpg

My NEW favorite serious dino book ( ): 5/5

As you may remember, Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs" WAS my favorite serious dino book ( ). However, Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved" (henceforth DH) is my NEW favorite. Thus, DH is now my go-to natural history of dinos. There are 2 main reasons for why that is: 1) DH is very comprehensive; This is especially apparent in Chapters 5-6 (which not only cover "the origin of birds" like Chapter 10 of Gardom/Milner's book, but also birds "beyond the Cretaceous"); 2) DH is very well-illustrated; In addition to Sibbick (who illustrated Gardom/Milner's book), DH is illustrated by Bonadonna, Conway, Csotonyi, Kn├╝ppe, Nicholls, Willoughby, & Witton. My only nit-picks are the cover art (which, while not the worst, neither reflects the interior art nor compares to the cover art of Gardom/Milner's book) & the lack of focus on the museum website (although the museum logo should be enough to show readers where to go for more info). Otherwise, these 2 books are very similar (E.g. Compare the quotes at the end of this review). 2 more things of note: 1) Contra what Publishers Weekly says, the "chapter on dinosaur cladistics" is 1 of the highlights of DH; Each section reads like a mini-story of how that sub-group evolved; 2) For whatever reason, Amazon doesn't do Listmania! anymore; If it did, DH would be right under Pickrell's "Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds" on "My Serious Dino Books" ( ).
"For 160 million years, dinosaurs were the most successful and diverse creatures to dominate the Earth. This book is based on the world-famous fossil collections and permanent “Dinosaurs” exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum. Written by two experts from one of the world’s leading Paleontology departments, this book features hundreds of color photos and illustrations that reveal the astonishing variety of life that proliferated in the Mesozoic Era—the Age of Dinosaurs. Tim Gardom has researched several major exhibitions, including The Natural History Museum’s acclaimed “Dinosaurs.” Angela Milner is Head of Fossil Vertebrates at The Natural History Museum" ( ). 
"From the Victorian golden age of dinosaur discovery to the cutting edge of twenty-first century fossil forensics 'Dinosaurs' unravels the mysteries of the most spectacular group of animals our planet has ever seen. Despite facing drastic climatic conditions including violent volcanic activity, searing temperatures and rising and plunging sea levels, the dinosaurs formed an evolutionary dynasty that ruled the Earth for more than 150 million years.Darren Naish and Paul Barrett reveal the latest scientific findings about dinosaur anatomy, behaviour, and evolution. They also demonstrate how dinosaurs survived the great extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period and continued to evolve and thrive alongside us, existing today as an incredibly diverse array of birds that are the direct descendants of theropods. 'Dinosaurs' is lavishly illustrated with specimens from the Natural History Museum's own collections, along with explanatory diagrams and charts and full-colour artistic reconstructions of dinosaur behaviour" ( ).

The worst dino museum in book form ( ): 1/5

Short version: If you want the best dino museum book for older kids, get Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs". If you want the best dino museum books for younger kids, get Aliki's dino books & read them in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").* Green's "The Dinosaur Museum: An Unforgettable, Interactive Virtual Tour Through Dinosaur History" (henceforth Museum #2) may be the worst children's dino museum book I've ever read.

Long version: Read on.

TripAdvisor Reviewers say that The Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester (henceforth Museum #1) is "the worst dinosaur museum", & based on their reviews & photos, I'm inclined to agree ( ). In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why Museum #2 is similarly bad or worse while using "The Meat-Eaters" as the main example (See the back cover).

1) Like Museum #1, Museum #2 is lacking in real fossils & full of bad reconstructions: In reference to fossils, each chapter has 1 or 2 at most & only some of them are real (E.g. "The Meat-Eaters" has a replica Velociraptor claw & a real T.rex tooth); In reference to reconstructions, each chapter has at least 3 or 4 & they're shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions (E.g. The Iguanodon on the front cover is a shameless rip-off of the "Walking With Dinosaurs" Iguanodon), just plain outdated/abominable (E.g. The T.rex has pronated hands; Both of the Giganotosaurus are unrecognizable as such), or some combination of both (E.g. The Velociraptor is a shameless rip-off of the "Jurassic Park" Velociraptor with pronated hands & feathers that look more like yellow grass).

2) Like Museum #1's text, Museum #2's is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. In "The Meat-Eaters", it's claimed that Velociraptor "charged after prey at up to 40 miles...per hour" (More like 24 mph), T.rex's "tiny front limbs may have helped it to stand up after lying down" (They didn't), "T.rex teeth had serrated...edges that could cut through flesh like steak knives" (They couldn't), & Giganotosaurus was 3 m high (More like 4 m high).

3) Like Museum #1's writing, Museum #2's is annoyingly vague. In fact, Museum #2's is even worse in that it's also annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the Green quote for both vagueness & hyperbole) & repetitive (E.g. The word "terrify" is used 3 times in "The Meat-Eaters" alone).

4) Like Museum #1, Museum #2 is poorly-organized. Not only are the dino chapters scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason, but so are the dinos within each chapter. This is especially apparent in "The Meat-Eaters" (which features Velociraptor, Giganotosaurus, & T.rex) & "Small but Deadly" (which features Oviraptor, Troodon, Deinonychus, Coelophysis, & Compsognathus). Not only are the theropod chapters separated by ornithischian & sauropod chapters, but the theropods within each chapter are almost completely random. In other words, nothing in Museum #2 makes any chronological/phylogenetic/ecological/etc sense.**

*In reference to "Aliki's dino books", google "".

**In reference to "chronological/phylogenetic/ecological/etc sense", google "DINOSOURS! on tumblr. - Framing Fossil Exhibits - Framing".
Quoting Green: "Giganotosaurus
Monster-size Giganotosaurus was probably even larger than T.rex. Its enormous jaws opened more than wide-enough to swallow you! Most likely it lunged at victims and took great bites of flesh with its sharp teeth. One twist of its sturdy neck could have ripped its victim limb from limb."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Natural Histories of Dinos

As far as I know, this is the most recent NHD book as of 8/7/17:

When I think of what natural history means, I think of the Geils/Vogler quote below. A Natural History of Dinos (henceforth NHD) is the best kind of non-encyclopedic dino book. There are 2 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) It's "designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals...[in a] direct, clear written style" ( ); See Weimberg's "What's the Best Way to Talk about Science?" ( ) for why it's important that popular dino books are designed that way; 2) It puts dinos into an evolutionary & ecological context; See "Item Mentality and Dinosaurs in Popular Science" ( ) & "Alternatives to the Item Mentality in Dinosaur Books and Art" ( ) for why it's important that popular dino books do that. Yes, I have a Bachelor of Science in "Natural History and Interpretation" ( ) & thus am very biased. That said, NHD books are mostly very good to great & I wanna know about all of them, hence this post. All the NHD books I know about are listed below. If there are any books you think should be listed, please let me know. Many thanks in advance. 2 more things of note: 1) No children's WWD books, only adult WWD books; 2) When trying to identify NHD books, look for a combination of the following or similar phrases:
-"a [adjective] look at"
-"a safari through time"
-"a trip to the Mesozoic"
-"as living animals"
-"dinosaur history"
-"evolution and ecology"
-"how they lived"
-"in a [adjective] context"
-"in the context of"
-"places them in"
-"the dinosaur story"
-"their evolution and extinction"
-"their history"
-"their natural habitat"
-"their natural environment"
-"their rise and fall"
-"their story"
-"their world"
-"time and space"
-"who they were"
Quoting Geils/Vogler (See "A Natural History Perspective": ): "The term history in natural history derives from the Greek for inquiry or knowing. A natural history is a description of one kind of organism in its natural environment. It is a narrative on the development, behavior, relationships, evolution, and significance of a subject organism. We are inspired by Charles Darwin and E. O. Wilson. Their work demonstrates that natural history is not just for charismatic species, but also for ‘lowly’ barnacles and ants. Natural history unites biology and philosophy. What we perceive depends on how we observe and integrate that observation into an operational model of reality (see Hawking and Mlodinow 2010). What we perceive determines what we accept as true, beautiful, and right—therefore, what motivates our action."
Colbert's "The Dinosaur Book: The Ruling Reptiles and Their Relatives" ( )

Watson's "Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles" ( )

Halstead's "The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs"

Moody's "A Natural History of Dinosaurs"

Tweedie's "The World of Dinosaurs" (See "Key Features" under "About this product": )

Charig's "A New Look at the Dinosaurs" ( )

McLoughlin's "Archosauria: A New Look at the Old Dinosaur" ( )

Sattler's "Dinosaurs of North America" ( )

Colbert's "Dinosaurs: An Illustrated History" (See the back cover: )

Waldrop/Loomis' "Ranger Rick's Dinosaur Book" ("A magazine published ten times a year containing stories, photographs, riddles, games, and crossword puzzles relating to natural history": )

Norman's "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" (See "About this Item": )

Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" ("Zoobooks...both natural history and the environment": )

Zallinger's "Dinosaurs and Other Archosaurs" (See "Overview": )

Bakker's "The Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction" ( )

Wallace's "The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaur"

Elting's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs" ("Part of the Golden Book series dealing with natural history for young people": )

Man's "The Natural History of the Dinosaur"/"The Day of the Dinosaur"

Kricher's "Peterson First Guide to Dinosaurs" ("A Guide to Field Guides: Identifying the Natural History of North America": )

Gaffney's "Dinosaurs" ("A Guide to Field Guides: Identifying the Natural History of North America": )

Czerkas/Czerkas' "Dinosaurs: A Global View" ( )

Norman's "Dinosaur!" ("The book was based on the television series of the same name, and examines the natural history of the dinosaurs, what they ate, where they lived and why they died": )

Michard's "Reign of the Dinosaurs" (See "Key Features" under "About this product": )

Wallace's "Familiar Dinosaurs" ("A Guide to Field Guides: Identifying the Natural History of North America": )

Lessem's "Dinosaur Worlds" ( )

Haines' "Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History"

Martill/Naish's "Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence - How Did They Know That?"

Benton's "Walking With Dinosaurs: Fascinating Facts"

Colagrande/Felder's "In the Presence of Dinosaurs" (See "About this book": )

Stout's "The New Dinosaurs"/"The Dinosaurs: A Fantastic New View of a Lost Era" (See the back cover: )

Barrett's "Dinosaurs: A Natural History"/"National Geographic Dinosaurs"

Gee/Rey's "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic" ( )

Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs"

Brusatte/Benton's "Dinosaurs" (See "Key Features" under "About this product": )

Brusatte's "Field Guide to Dinosaurs" (To quote Reed J. Richmond, "This is a slimmed down version of the huge coffee table book that Brusatte did earlier (titled "Dinosaurs")")

Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" ( )

Scott's "Planet Dinosaur" ( )

Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs" ( )

DeCourten's "Dinosaurs Of Utah" ( )

White's "Dinosaur Hunter: The Ultimate Guide to the Biggest Game" (See "My thoughts": )

Brusatte's "Day of the Dinosaurs: Step into a spectacular prehistoric world" (See "Children's Books and other Popular Books": )

Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved"

Paul's "The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs"/"Dinosaurs: A Field Guide" ( )

Fastovsky/Weishampel's "Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History"/"The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs"

Brusatte's "The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World"/"The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World"