Monday, May 19, 2014

Good, Semi-good, and Bad Dino Sources 2

This post is the 2nd part in the "Good, Semi-good, and Bad Dino Sources" series. If you haven't read the 1st part ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/good-semi-good-and-bad-dino-sources.html ), I recommend reading it b/c it explains how said series works. If you have read the 1st part, I recommend re-reading it b/c I've since modified it to be more explanatory. 2 more things of note: 1) Some complained that some of the sources were miscategorized as semi-good/bad, so in addition to making the 1st part more explanatory, I reconsidered & recategorized 1 of its semi-good sources as good in this post (Many thanks to Mike Keesey for that); 2) Some also complained that too much attention was given to the semi-good/bad sources & not enough to the good sources, so I made sure to reverse that trend in this post.

Good

To paraphrase Switek ( http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/04/07/paleontological-profiles-rober/ ), Bakker ("Robert T. Bakker, Ph.D. | Houston Museum Of Natural Science": http://www.hmns.org/exhibits/curators/robert-t-bakker-ph-d/ ) is not only "a working paleontologist" (He led/leads the Dinosaur Renaissance/HMNS paleontology field program, respectively), but also 1 of the most "effective popularizers of science": His older popular work "inspired many young paleontologists and spun off numerous artistic clones" ( http://openpaleo.blogspot.com/2010/11/book-review-princeton-field-guide-to.html ); His newer popular work includes "inspiring reads for students in the early grades of elementary school" ( http://www.parentingscience.com/paleontology-for-kids-reviews.html ); He also blogs ( https://blog.hmns.org/2010/03/raptors-group-hunters-or-cannibals/ ), lectures ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHJMOgzbI3w ), curates exhibitions ( http://www.hmns.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=336&Itemid=371 ), & appears in documentaries ( http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/secrets-of-the-dinosaur-mummy/ ).

If Audubon had done digital artwork, I bet it would've looked something like that of either Martyniuk ("Matthew P. Martyniuk": http://mpm.panaves.com/ ) or Willoughby ("Emily Willoughby Art": http://emilywilloughby.com/ ), both of whom are paleoartists who 1) specialize in reconstructing feathered dinos, & 2) have a major internet presence: The "Raptor Attack" trope includes links to their websites ("For good examples of accurate deinonychosaur portrayals, see these websites": http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RaptorAttack ); Naish's "Historical ornithology 101, a Tet Zoo Guide" features their artwork front & center ("Birds are dinosaurs, and 'birdiness'…evolved in theropod dinosaurs before the origin of birds": http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/2013/07/06/historical-ornithology-101-a-tet-zoo-guide/ ); The latter is especially fitting b/c Martyniuk's "Anchiornis huxleyi" & Willoughby's "Mei long is Not Always Sleeping" remind me of Audubon's "Wild Turkey, male" ( http://www.rare-prints.com/Oppenheimer/Watercolors/Wild%20Turkey,%20male.htm ) & "Wild Turkey, female and young" ( http://www.rare-prints.com/Oppenheimer/Watercolors/Wild%20Turkey,%20female.htm ), respectively.

Like Cau, Mortimer ("The Theropod Database": http://archosaur.us/theropoddatabase/ ) is a consistently good source of phylogenetic info for the enthusiast (See "The Theropod Database Blog")/the specialist (See "Phylogeny of Theropoda" through "Evaluating Phylogenetic Analyses"). Unlike Cau, Mortimer doesn't consistently cover other biological info & thus doesn't have Cau's "hit-&-miss" problem (See "Semi-good" for what I mean: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/good-semi-good-and-bad-dino-sources.html ).

Sampson ("Scott D. Sampson": http://www.scottsampson.net/ ) & Switek ("Brian Switek": http://brianswitek.com/ ) are both paleontologists (professional & amateur, respectively) & popularizers of science who specialize in putting dinos into an evolutionary & ecological context. You could say that 1) Sampson is the new Carl Sagan w/"Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" basically being a dino-centric version of "Cosmos" (See the Orr quote), & 2) Switek is the new John Noble Wilford w/"My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs" basically being an updated version of "The Riddle of the Dinosaur" (See the Wilford quote).

WitmerLab ("Witmer's Lab and Research": http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-witmer/lab.htm ) is the ultimate source of dino anatomy info. Liebendorfer's "Digital Dinosaurs: How do scientists reconstruct the anatomy of ancient beasts?" ( http://www.ohio.edu/research/communications/witmer.cfm ) sums up why.

Semi-good

Benton ("Professor Mike Benton - Earth Sciences": http://www.bristol.ac.uk/earthsciences/people/mike-j-benton/ ) & Brusatte ("Stephen Brusatte, Paleontology Research": https://sites.google.com/site/brusatte/ ) are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. "Dinosaur Paleobiology": http://www.amazon.com/Dinosaur-Paleobiology-Stephen-L-Brusatte/dp/0470656581 ). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast (E.g. "Dinosaurs": http://www.amazon.com/Dinosaurs-Steve-Brusatte/dp/1847244173 ).*

You could say Don Lessem ("Dino Don – Just another WordPress site": http://dinodon.com/ ) is the Don Bluth of dinos: Bluth's pre-1990 work is mostly good, while his post-1990 work is mostly not-so-good; The same goes for Lessem's pre- & post-2000 work, respectively. As you may remember, I reviewed the best of his pre-2000 work & the worst of his post-2000 work ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-3rd-pair-of-reviews_21.html ). Compared to the former, the latter fails to cover many dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner (I.e. Sometimes, it simplifies things to the point of being meaningless; Other times, it's just plain wrong).**

*Naish's "All Yesterdays Book Launch Talk" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RG0yLeJE_U ) sums up what I mean.

**E.g. Compare the definition of "amphibians" in "Dinosaur Worlds" ("vertebrate animals...that lay their eggs in water but usually spend their adult life on land") to that of "AMPHIBIAN" in "The Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever" ("animal that is able to live both on land and in water").

Bad

I hate to say it, but neither Blasing ("Dinosaur George Company") nor Dixon ("Welcome to Dougal Dixon's Website") can be taken seriously as "dinosaur experts": The problem w/Blasing "is that he is impersonating a professional in the field, and in the process, he is misleading the public when he talks so matter of factly about some of his subjects" ( http://reptilis.net/2008/09/14/jfc-lockjaw/ ); Similarly, "Dixon has a superfi-cial understanding of dinosaur and pterosaur biology, and of their actual evolutionary patterns- i. e. he is not familiar with the technical literature, a necessity since the popular literature re-mains incomplete and sometimes obsolete...In addition, he wants to make archosaurs more mammalian than is appropriate" ( http://www.gspauldino.com/Tertiary.pdf ). I say "I hate to say it" b/c, based on what I've read, both Blasing & Dixon are nice guys.* I can't say the same about the other bad sources (E.g. Dr. Pterosaur/Doug Dobney & Gwawinapterus/Johnfaa are trolls &/or cyberbullies; See "Bad" for how: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/good-semi-good-and-bad-dino-sources.html ).

*Miller's "Interview with Dinosaur George Blasing" ( http://empyricaltales.blogspot.com/2013/11/interview-with-dinosaur-george-blasing.html#.UsUgIf1SE4Y ) & Bonnan's "Now the circle is complete -or- a belated dinosaur Christmas gift" ( https://matthewbonnan.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/now-the-circle-is-complete-or-a-belated-dinosaur-christmas-gift/ ), respectively, sum up what I mean.
Quoting Orr ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2010/02/dinosaur-odyssey-review.html ): "Sampson is clearly aiming for a Sagan-like position as a popularizer of science, and his prose owes a definite debt to the revered astronomer There are stylistic debts, such as the phrase "in a very real sense," the very real meaning of which I don't know. More importantly, he seems to have been influenced by Sagan's efforts to help his fellow Earthlings understand their precarious place in this huge universe. There is no Dawkinsish acidity here, no baiting of anti-science pundits. The image presented is positive and accessible, tying in with his job as host of the PBS kids cartoon Dinosaur Train. One of the great revelations in my life was that what's happening under my feet is as interesting as what's happening around me. Dinosaur Odyssey, with its easily understood illustrations of the networks that make ecosystems work, has the potential to open plenty of eyes to that reality. This book should be in schools."
Quoting Wilford ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/science/my-beloved-brontosaurus-millions-of-years-gone-but-still-evolving.html?_r=1& ): "Other books have dealt with new dinosaur research, but like museum exhibits on the subject, they quickly become outdated. This may be the one book for catching up on what has become of the dinosaurs you thought you knew from grade school. Mr. Switek and his brontosaur spiritual sidekick take you to dig sites, museums and laboratories to experience the rapid changes in dinosaur paleontology. His account is spiced with history of bone wars in the American West, odd facts and asides. For example, there is no such thing as an intercostal clavicle, the bone Cary Grant is frantically searching for in “Bringing Up Baby.”"

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