Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My 16th 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: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-14th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/08/my-15th-pair-of-reviews.html


Cladistics yay! ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1SCM65CLPZD4M/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

To quote Grandmother Fish ( https://plus.google.com/+Grandmotherfish/posts/9vgV2CqjerP ), clades "are central to a modern understanding of how we living things relate to each other." Before Holtz's "Dinosaurs", Hedley's "Dinosaurs and Their Living Relatives" (henceforth Living) was 1 of the best children's dino books when it came to introducing older kids (especially those who like activity books) to cladistics. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is, 1 for each part of Living (See the Hedley quote).

1) To quote Sampson ( http://www.scottsampson.net/index.php?page=dinosaur-odyssey ), "all science writing should follow Albert Einstein’s dictum: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”" That's exactly what Living does. More specifically, Living guides readers step-by-step through using cladistics to work out relationships. This is especially apparent in the 1st part (E.g. 1st, it defines & gives examples of homologues; Then, it defines & gives examples of analogues; Last, it asks readers, "Can you recognize homologues? Two of these animals have structures that are homologous to a bird's wing. Which do you think they are?"). In that sense, Living is basically a cladistic activity book.

2) To paraphrase Milner ( http://www.accessscience.com/content/dino-birds/YB061940 ), "It has been widely accepted for more than [20 years before Sinosauropteryx] that birds are direct descendants of small theropods...called maniraptorans." Living is very good at showing that. This is especially apparent in the 2nd part (I.e. See the Padian quote; Chapter 5 is basically that, but in a more step-by-step form).

3) The 3rd part is illustrated with Graham High's dino models & they're very life-like. This is especially apparent in the cover: Remember when Lex shines the light into the T.rex's eye in "Jurassic Park"?; To quote Faraci ( http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2011/05/05/best-movies-ever-jurassic-park-1993 ), "the way the beast’s pupil dilates is amazing and scary at once. This seems to be a real thing!, you think, in awe. And it’s right there, inches away!, you think, afraid for the kids"; The same goes for the cover. It's also worth mentioning that the Preface & Chapter 1 are illustrated with Peter Snowball's dino paintings & they're very easy on the eyes. 1 of my only gripes is that some of the herbivorous dinos (especially the sauropods) are depicted as dragging their tails.*

*My other gripe is the lack of evolution (I.e. Living uses the word "evolution" multiple times, but doesn't define it).
Quoting Hedley: "This book takes a completely new approach to the study of dinosaurs. It sets out to discover how dinosaurs are related to other animals...both living and extinct. It begins by explaining a simple method for working out the relationships between animals. Then, using many photographs and diagrams, it applies this method to the dinosaurs. The book ends with a unique series of new full-colour illustrations of many of the Natural History Museum's most famous dinosaurs...as they may have appeared when they were alive." 
Quoting Padian ( https://ncse.com/library-resource/dinosaurs-birds-update ): "In a short paper in Nature, John Ostrom (1973) first laid out a case for the descent of birds from theropod dinosaurs. At the time, other ideas had recently been proposed, linking birds to crocodiles or to a more vaguely defined group of archosaurs (the group that includes birds, dinosaurs, crocodiles, pterosaurs, and many extinct relatives). Although all three hypotheses had early proponents, only the dinosaur-bird hypothesis survived the decade, mainly because (1) the evidence was convincing, (2) the hypothesis survived repeated tests using cladistic analysis, and (3) the alternatives were too vaguely phrased, there was no convincing evidence for them, and they failed repeated cladistic testing. The public tends to think that there is a substantial controversy among scientists about the ancestry of birds, partly because the public does not understand cladistics and partly because cladistics is rejected as a method by the opponents of the dinosaur-bird hypothesis."


BANDitry boo! ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R3VEMQKSPPFFLC?ref_=pe_584750_33951330 ) 1/5

If you want the best insider's book about dinos for kids, get Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs". Despite all the praise heaped on them (See "More About the Author"), Markle's "Outside And Inside" series in general & "Outside And Inside Dinosaurs" (henceforth Outside) in particular were never the best or even just decent in their own right. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is while using the Markle quote as an example.

1) Outside seems to pander to the fringe group BAND (= Birds Are Not Dinosaurs). More specifically, debunked BANDit claims are depicted as being as valid as dino expert facts. In the Markle quote alone, it's claimed that growth rings indicate ectothermy (They don't), Troodon was ectothermic (It wasn't), scaly skin indicates ectothermy (It doesn't), Sinosauropteryx imprints could be "frilly fins" (They couldn't be), & said imprints could be collagen fibers (They couldn't be). Said claims are probably because BANDit Terry Jones is 1 of the researchers Markle thanks "for sharing their enthusiasm and expertise". The problem is that BANDits aren't dino experts (See the GSPaul quote), but 9 of the researchers are & have been debunking BANDit claims for years, especially Tim Rowe, who co-authored Dingus/Rowe's "Mistaken Extinction: Dinosaur Evolution and the Origin of Birds".

2) Even if you ignore the fringe pandering, Outside still fails in the following ways (which apply to the "Outside And Inside" series in general):
-The photos are grainy to varying degrees. Surprise surprise, the grainiest photos are of feathered dino fossils & taken by Terry Jones, who (as indicated by the Naish quote) is known for using grainy-as-heck photos.
-The writing is too simple & condescending (E.g. To quote Bakker from a good children's dino book, "When you look at dinosaur bone under a microscope, you see it's full of tiny holes for little blood vessels. That means that the blood flow was high and the body generated a lot of heat"; Compare that to the 1st 2 paragraphs of the Markle quote).
-The text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight: On average, there's 1 or 2 factual errors per page in Outside, a 40 page book; Those in the Markle quote are especially cringe-worthy (E.g. "Feathery scales" & "Feathered scales"; See "Feather evolution" for why they're so cringe-worthy: http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/feather_evolution.htm ).
Quoting Markle: "A special tool, called a microscope, was used to enlarge this slice of a Troodon's leg bone. It offers a clue to solving a mystery: Did dinosaurs produce their own body heat or did they just soak up heat from the world around them?
See the rings in the bone? Some dinosaur experts believe these rings could mean the dinosaur soaked up heat. All animals need heat energy to be active and grow, so the dinosaur may have grown more when it was warmer. However not all dinosaur bones have rings. Some dinosaur bones are full of holes, like the bones of animals that make their own body heat. When the dinosaur was alive, the holes were filled with tubes that carried blood. The blood quickly spread heat energy throughout the animal's body.
But the question still remains: Did dinosaurs produce their own heat? More clues are needed to solve this mystery.
Here's another clue. It's an imprint of a Hadrosaurus' skin. The little bumps are like those on an alligator. This sort of scaly skin is a good, tough covering for a body that soaks up heat by lying on the ground. So did all dinosaurs have scaly skin?
Dinosaur imprints, like this one of a Sinosauropteryx, make some researchers believe there were dinosaurs with feathery scales. If these were like down feathers they would have been good for holding in body heat. Feathered scales could be proof that at least some dinosaurs produced their own heat.
Other researchers don't think such imprints show skin at all. Some believe the imprints show frilly fins like those seen on the backs of some of today's lizards. Others believe the imprints show a kind of tissue that lies just underneath the skin, connecting the skin to the muscles and bones."
Quoting GSPaul ( http://dml.cmnh.org/1997Jan/msg00318.html ): "I also agree with AF that although cladistics is very important, it is also not phylogenetic nirvana. What AF does not know is how overwhelming is the skull, skeletal, eggshell and nesting behaviour evidence that advanced theropods are the ancestors of birds. Feduccia and other paleoornithologists sometimes say that we dinoologists do not understand bird anatomy well enough. Actually, we know birds quite well because they are the living dinosaurs we look at all the time. The real problem is that some paleoornithologists do not understand the anatomy of nonavian archosaurs well enough." 
Quoting Naish ( http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2009/07/17/birds-cannot-be-dinosaurs/ ): "— the innards of Sinosauropteryx and Scipionyx supposedly falsify avian-like air-sac systems in non-avian coelurosaurs and demonstrate a croc-like hepatic piston diaphragm (Ruben et al. 1997, 1999), even though a gigantic dose of personal interpretation is required to accept that this claim might be correct, even though crocodilians and dinosaurs are fundamentally different in pelvic anatomy, and even though some living birds have the key soft-tissue traits reported by Ruben et al. in Sinosauropteryx and Scipionyx yet still have an avian respiratory system [alleged diaphragm of Sinosauropteryx highlighted in adjacent image; unconvincing on all levels]"