Sunday, January 22, 2017

My 17th 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":,204,203,200_.jpg

1 of a kind ( ): 5/5

Short version: If you want the only popular adult book about dino traces, get Martin's "Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils" (henceforth Bones). If you want the best adult day-in-the-life dino book, get Bones. If you want the most 1 of a kind adult dino book, get Bones.

Long version: Read on.

As you may have noticed, I usually review non-fiction dino books that either don't get enough praise for being good or don't get enough criticism for being bad. What's interesting about Bones is that it got a lot of praise for covering so much ground on dino traces, but little-to-no praise for how it covers said ground (which is what really makes it 1 of a kind). Not only is Bones the only popular adult book about dino traces, but also the best adult day-in-the-life dino book. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is.

1) The 1st part of a day-in-the-life dino book usually tells a day-in-the-life story of a dino. 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that their stories are poorly-written. Thanks to Martin, Bones doesn't have that problem. In fact, Bones is basically a dino-centric version of Aardema's "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale" written in the style of Bakker's "Raptor Red", but better: For 1, Chapter 1 tells a day-in-the-life story of a "big male Triceratops" & how its "aggressive movement...triggered overt and subtle changes in the behaviors of nearly every dinosaur nearby"; This is like Aardema's book ( ), but better because it's more realistic; For another, Chapter 1 "serves as a vehicle for [Martin] to give science lessons in a user-friendly format" ( ); This is like Bakker's book, but better because "most [of the dinos in Chapter 1] are from near the end of the Cretaceous Period (about 70 million years ago) and in an area defined approximately by Montana and Alberta, Canada."* This is especially apparent in the Martin quote.

2) The 2nd part of a day-in-the-life dino book usually explains the science behind the story. 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that they concentrate on the story with only limited emphasis on the science (which doesn't make sense to me given how much science there is behind a given story). It'd be like "The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition — Blu-ray" having 26 hours of film & only 11 hours of bonus material ( ). Thanks to Martin, Bones doesn't have that problem. In fact, Bones is the closest thing we have to an adult day-in-the-life dino book done right, LOTR style: Not only do Chapters 2-11 cover all of the dino traces in Chapter 1, but also all related dino traces (E.g. See the Martin quote; Not only does Chapter 8 cover dino "scat", but also dino stomach & intestinal contents, vomit, & urine); It helps that, like LOTR DVD extras, Chapters 2-11 are very well-organized, beginning with Triceratops tracks (in reference to the big male's "aggressive movement") in Chapter 2 & ending with sauropod trails (which made "the sunlit valley" itself possible) in Chapter 11.

If I could, I'd give Bones a 4.5/5. My only problem is the lack of paleoart (There's a series of color plates; That's about it): On the 1 hand, Bones is a "TRANSITION TO THE TECHNICAL" & thus doesn't have "lots of different dinosaurs fully restored" ( ); On the other hand, similar books do have "high quality pictures and graphs that break up the text" ( ); At the very least, Chapter 1 should've been illustrated for obvious reasons. However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5.

*To quote Holtz ( ), "The fauna Bakker portrays is a very artificial one, combining genera from two different parts of the Early Cretaceous."
Quoting Martin: "In between the two Triceratops, a group of small feathered theropod dinosaurs with stubby forearms—similar to the Asian alvarezsaur Mononykus—and a nearby bunch of slightly larger ornithopod dinosaurs (Thescelosaurus) looked on warily. Each of these groups of dinosaurs had been striding unhurriedly across the floodplain, tolerating one another's presence, spurred on by intriguing scents wafting down the sunlit valley. Nevertheless, a charging Triceratops provided a good reason to temporarily abandon their longterm goals and deal with this more immediate problem.
In unison, they all looked up at the advancing Triceratops, its profile and rapidly increasing pace causing it to appear ever larger as it neared. Next to them, a mixed flock of toothed birds and pterosaurs all turned and aligned themselves with the wind at their backs. They began hopping while flapping their wings, and then were aloft, chattering loudly. This was all the motivation one of the more skittish theropods needed to start running, and the rest of his group followed suit. The ornithopods only hesitated a second or two before doing the same. First, though, more than a few of both species lightened the load before taking off, involuntarily voiding their bowels and leaving variably colored and sized scat, peppered with seeds, on top of their distinctive footprints. In her haste, one Thescelosaurus slipped on a muddy patch and fell on her side. She quickly righted herself and bolted to catch up with the others, leaving a long, smeared body impression on the sand among the tracks."

The paleoart is the only good part ( ): 2/5

If you want the best digital paleoart, get Csotonyi's "The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi". If you can't afford Csotonyi's book, get Stewart's "Why Did T. rex Have Short Arms?: And Other Questions about Dinosaurs" (henceforth Arms). Arms is some of Csotonyi's best work next to his Oxford University Museum of Natural History labels ( ). In terms of paleoart, Csotonyi is basically "Peter Zallinger, Doug Henderson and Greg Paul" combined into 1 awesome being ( ). Unfortunately, the paleoart is the only good part of Arms.

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). Arms, while not the worst Children's dino Q&A book, is still very bad:
-Redundant questions? Uncheck (There are only 16 questions), but Arms more than makes up for this in the following ways.
-Vague answers? Check times infinity! The 1st Stewart quote is the worst because it answers 1 of the biggest questions in science with a vague "just so" story (See the penultimate paragraph).
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity! The 1st Stewart quote is the worst because it fails on many levels: It contradicts itself from a previous Q&A (See the 2nd Stewart quote; If "birds are a group of dinosaurs", then people did, & still do, "live at the same time as dinosaurs"); It avoids using the word "evolution" (as does the rest of Arms); It fails to understand that "developed" =/= "evolved" ( ); It fails to get the facts straight (E.g. To quote Witmer, Archaeopteryx looked like "just another feathered predatory dinosaur"; Each wing had 3 LONG fingers); It fails to explain what it means by "dino-bird". & if that's not bad enough, it isn't even illustrated with Csotonyi's Archaeopteryx, but with a stock photo of a shameless rip-off of Sibbick's Archaeopteryx with a scaly dragon face & "Wings...but with hands!" ( ).*

To sum up, I recommend getting Arms ONLY for the paleoart. If you want to know "Why Did T. rex Have Short Arms", google "Wyrex’s fancy footwork and tender hands: Get to know this tyrannosaur’s softer side".

*Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Age of Dinosaurs" for "Wings...but with hands!"
Quoting Stewart: "Are there any dinosaurs alive today?
Believe it or not, birds are the modern relatives of dinosaurs. In fact, T.rex is more closely related to a blue jay than to an alligator.
Most paleontologists think that birds are a group of dinosaurs that developed around 150 million years ago. Archaeopteryx...may be the earliest true bird discovered so far. It lived in central Europe about 150 million years ago.
Archaeopteryx looked like a cross between a lizard and a bird. Like a lizard, it had sharp teeth and a long tail. Its body was covered in feathers, and it had wings. But each wing had three small fingers with claws on the ends.
Scientists think that feathers first developed to help dinosaurs stay warm. Over time, feathers became larger and dino-bird bodies became more equipped to fly. At some point, feathered dinosaurs got a split-second of extra "lift" when they pounced on prey. This gave them an advantage over other small dinosaurs and helped them survive. As their bodies continued to change, dino-birds learned to glide. Eventually, they took flight.
By the time an asteroid struck Earth 65 million years ago, many kinds of dino-birds lived all over the world. Some of them survived the disaster and developed into the birds we see today." 
Quoting Stewart: "Did people live at the same time as dinosaurs?
No way! The earliest humans walked the earth around 2.3 million years ago. By then, dinosaurs had been dead and gone for more than 60 million years.
Our ancient relatives shared the world with large herbivores such as woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths. They worried about being attacked by cave bears and saber-tooth cats. None of these larger mammals are alive today. They are extinct. Scientists are still trying to figure out why they disappeared."