Monday, August 6, 2018

Top 4 Natural Histories of Dinos

This post is the sequel to "Natural Histories of Dinos" ( ). It's nothing formal, just a list of what I (as a non-expert dino fan) think are the best NHD books & why. Even still, I hope that at least some of you will get something out of it.

4/3) Tie btwn Fastovsky/Weishampel's "Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History"/"The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs" & Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life": Despite their obvious differences (E.g. Fastovsky/Weishampel's book is a textbook w/a phylogenetic format, while Sampson's is a non-textbook w/a chronological format), these 2 books have 3 major similarities: 1) In both books, "the story builds in a stepwise fashion," "each chapter [building] upon the previous ones"; 2) "Part of [the goal in both books] is to explore the relationships of organisms to each other and to the biosphere"; 3) "It is [hoped] that science educators in particular will embrace some of the approaches presented" in both books. This is especially apparent when you compare the Introduction of Fastovsky/Weishampel's book ( ) to the Preface of Sampson's ( ).

2) Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs": To quote Hammond ( ), the red-tailed hawk is "the archetypal bird of prey". Similarly, this book was the archetypal NHD from 1993-2016 (See "Synopsis": ). There are 2 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) To paraphrase Naish ( ), this book is backed by "one of the world's greatest and most famous of natural history museums, and [based on] one of the world's most important scientific collections of dinosaur fossils"; This is especially apparent in "The Dino Directory" ("which serves as a nice supplement to [this] book": ); 2) This book has a day-in-the-life format (I.e. The 1st part introduces the dinos & their world; The 2nd part shows how the dinos lived & evolved in their world); This makes sense given that, according to Ernest Thompson Seton, day-in-the-life stories are the best way to write natural history (See "NOTE TO THE READER": ). It's also worth mentioning that the newer editions are very much "enlarged and updated" compared to the older ones (E.g. 144 pages in 2006 vs. 128 pages in 1993).

1) Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved": In 2016, 10 years after the last edition of Gardom/Milner's book, this book became the new archetypal NHD. This book does everything Gardom/Milner's book does, but mostly bigger & better ( ). In fact, if I could, I'd give this book an extra star for being extra authoritative (I.e. An extra half star for the NHM & an extra half star for the Smithsonian). In other words, this is a 6-star book.

Honorable Mention) Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs": This book is the best children's NHD. There are 2 main reasons for why I think that is, besides the fact that this book is an updated version of a childhood classic:* 1) It's the best at emphasizing the safari aspect of natural history; This makes sense given that it's authored by Bakker ( ); 2) It's the best at reminding readers that "the dinosaur story is our story, too"; Put another way, to quote Barton ( ), "we’re part of the natural world along with every creature great and small, plant, rock, wave, and breeze...We must care for our planet not just for ourselves to remain, but for all of our extended family".

*To paraphrase Paleoaerie ( ), this book is the "totally updated edition" of "the classic book that most people old enough to be parents grew up on". Thus, to paraphrase Earl Sinclair ( ), "this [book] works on two levels!"