Monday, June 8, 2015

My 10th 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 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

http://images.betterworldbooks.com/068/Tyrannosaurus-Rex-and-Its-Kin-Sattler-Helen-Roney-9780688077488.jpg

MUCH better than I expected ( http://www.amazon.com/review/R3INFL96O3PWAS/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=068807748X&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ): 4/5

I originally wasn't planning on reviewing any T.rex books, mostly because T.rex is the most overexposed & overstudied dino. However, I got a request from Richard Levine on the "Jurassic Park Legacy Forums" to review Sattler's "Tyrannosaurus Rex and Its Kin: The Mesozoic Monsters" (henceforth Kin) & realized that I had never read it before. As it turned out, Kin was MUCH better than I expected: For 1, it's very well-illustrated (I.e. Powzyk's watercolors are easy on the eyes); For another, it's very well-organized, beginning with T.rex 65 MYA & ending with Dilophosaurus 200 MYA; For yet another, it's very complete & in-depth (I.e. Not only does it cover every carnosaur genus then known, but also everything then known about them).* It helps that Sattler is very well-read, as indicated by the bibliography.

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, to paraphrase Witton ( http://markwitton-com.blogspot.com/2014/09/hey-dreadnoughtus-not-so-close.html ), Powzyk "fills every possible square inch with [her] animals to the point of using extreme postures...particularly arching backs and curving tails...to do so". For another, it's claimed that Kin is an "authoritative account of the most powerful predators that ever lived" on the 1st inside flap despite the fact that Sattler is neither an expert nor even a collaborator with experts. Otherwise, Kin was very good for a pre-"Jurassic Park" children's dino book.** I recommend reading Kin in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").

*All large theropods were then grouped together as carnosaurs.

**To quote Albertonykus (per. comm.), "the first Jurassic Park film is a good starting point for a popular depiction of prehistoric animals involving a decent amount of then-current science."

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

The worst dino field guide ( http://www.amazon.com/review/R1BHCV2E970BGY/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1849160066&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ): 1/5

Short version: If you want the best dino field guide for casual readers, get Holtz/Brett-Surman's "Jurassic World Dinosaur Field Guide". Despite its sub-title (I.e. "The Ultimate Dinosaur Encyclopedia"), Brusatte's "Field Guide to Dinosaurs" (henceforth Field) was never the best or even just decent in its own right. In fact, it may be the worst paleontologist-authored popular dino book I've ever read.

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. To quote Reed J. Richmond, Field "is a slimmed down version of the huge coffee table book that Brusatte did earlier (titled "Dinosaurs")". In this review, I list the 3 major differences between Brusatte's books.

1) Again, to quote Reed J. Richmond, Field "is just a chopped up version of the illustrations from" Dinosaurs. The only major difference is that Field's cover is a shameless rip-off of the "Jurassic Park" T.rex.

2) Like Dinosaurs' text, Field's is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. In fact, Field's is even worse: For 1, not only does it make the same mistakes as Dinosaurs', but also comes up with new ones based on pure speculation; For another, not only is the speculation nonsensical, but also contradictory to what we know. This is especially apparent in the dino profiles because the misses stick out more with less text. That of the Protoceratops profile is some of the worst: On page 130, Protoceratops is described as being "about the size of a sheep and just as meek"; Also, on page 131, it's claimed that "Protoceratops can swipe at a predator with its cheek horns, but otherwise lacks specific weapons". When I 1st read that, all I could think was "BS": For 1 (in reference to "on page 130"), some herbivores (E.g. Suids) are both sheep-sized & aggressive; For another (in reference to "also"), even if the "Fighting Dinosaurs" specimen hadn't already proven it, the armored head & sharp beak were still obvious weapons. & if that's not bad enough, Protoceratops has a "Potential Risk" rating of 1/5, while Microraptor has a 3/5 (which is like saying that a chicken is more dangerous than a wild boar).

3) Like Dinosaurs' writing, Field's is annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the 1st Brusatte quote) & repetitive (E.g. The word "terror" is used at least once in 16 out of 35 non-bird theropod profiles). In fact, Field's is even worse: For 1, it's annoyingly insulting (E.g. See the 2nd Brusatte quote); For another, it's annoyingly generic (E.g. Compare the 3rd Brusatte quote to the 4th 1).
Quoting Brusatte: "The colorful skull crest of Cryolophosaurus is a signal of doom to local plant-eating dinosaurs. For many prosauropods, this fan-like sheet above the nostrils is the last thing they will see before feeling the slicing jaws of death." 
Quoting Brusatte: "An alternative way of viewing dinosaurs from our time machine is through a high-tech periscope with a lens so powerful that you can see the pores in a creature's skin, the evil glint in its eyes and the salivating jaws ever ready to snap up prey. Big bad wolves seem tame by comparison." 
Quoting Brusatte: "Dromaeosaurus is the prime member of the dromaeosaurid group of theropods, commonly known as 'raptors'. Dromaeosaurus is only slightly larger than a large dog, and comes up just to hip- or chest-level on a man. However, by hunting in packs, Dromaeosaurus can subdue animals much larger than itself. Usually, a team of dromaeosaurs will stalk, surround, then leap onto the flanks of its prey." 
Quoting Brusatte: "Velociraptor is the cleverest and most cunning of all the dinosaurs. Although only slightly bigger than a large dog, Velociraptor uses its keen senses and pack-hunting abilities to overcome prey ten times bigger than itself."

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