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: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-My 11th-20th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/09/my-20th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 21st Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/11/my-21st-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 22nd Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2018/02/my-22nd-pair-of-reviews.html

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Mostly good, part 1 ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1BGIKWL90PWZD/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 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 ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R47I7QPHDIHYD/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0300164351 ). 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: https://jd-man.deviantart.com/journal/Review-update-45-It-s-a-big-1-743681263

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 Tenontosaurus...is 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 ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R4VJXNM6VVEIV/ref=cm_cr_othr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0300164351 ): "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."

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Stop liking things! ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R37ELAMHP3KSEA/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 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: https://berenstainbearcast.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/episode-37-the-berenstain-bears-and-the-dinosaurs/ ) 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": https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ).
-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 ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/05/holtzs-dinosaur-lovers-bookshelf-article.html ): "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."

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