Author Topic: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!  (Read 11102 times)

HD-man

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HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« on: April 22, 2014, 02:03:59 AM »
For my 1st post, I published my 1st Idea List (which I'll add to as time goes on). The requirements are listed below & the books are listed in the bolded link. If there are any books you think should be listed, please let me know. Many thanks in advance.

My serious dino books ( https://www.amazon.com/ideas/amzn1.account.AHGP423NZJT3YDNSVR7I54NEYPMQ/3MZCS9P4ICST4 )

My serious dino books must be all of the following:
-About dino biology.
-About non-T.rex theropods in particular, if not dinos in general.
-Authored/edited/forwarded/introduced by at least 1 BAD (= Birds Are Dinosaurs) dino paleontologist.
-Described/reviewed on Amazon.
-For adult "casual readers"/"the enthusiast" ( http://whenpigsfly-returns.blogspot.com/2008/04/paleo-reading-list.html ).
-Non-fiction.
-Not "reference works" (2-3 parters are exempt: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue30/ref-books ).
-Not state-specific.
-Post-1986.
-With dino-related titles.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 01:11:33 PM by HD-man »
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tyrantqueen

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2014, 09:18:06 PM »
First off, do you have an opinion on Dinosaurs of Utah by Frank DeCourten? I'm asking because I didn't care for the book, and I am wondering what other people's opinions are.

Second, have you considered adding The Complete Dinosaur (second edition) to your serious list? That one is amazing.

Thanks, your amazon list was useful :)

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2014, 11:55:26 PM »
First off, do you have an opinion on Dinosaurs of Utah by Frank DeCourten? I'm asking because I didn't care for the book, and I am wondering what other people's opinions are.

Second, have you considered adding The Complete Dinosaur (second edition) to your serious list? That one is amazing.

1stly, I haven't read DeCourten's Dinosaurs Of Utah, so I don't have an opinion on it. All I know is that it's for "the Specialist".

2ndly, I did consider Brett-Surman et al.'s The Complete Dinosaur at 1 point, but then I found out that it's for "the Specialist". More specifically, it's part of the "Life of the Past" series (Quoting Miller: "These books are for the real paleo freaks. Collections of scientific papers all, your knowledge of the subject matter must be hardwired").

Thanks, your amazon list was useful :)

Anytime. Glad I could help. :)
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SpittersForEver

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2014, 01:45:00 PM »
very useful

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2014, 07:23:15 PM »
very useful

Many thanks for the kind words.
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tyrantqueen

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2014, 07:31:02 PM »
You know the state of childrens' book publishing has degenerated when you see titles like this

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Childrens-Book-Farting-Dinosaurs-Bedtime-ebook/dp/B00J4MPM0S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398623481&sr=1-1&keywords=the+farting+dinosaurs

*Whoops, sorry. Posted in the wrong thread. Sorry HD-man* :(
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 07:32:35 PM by tyrantqueen »

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2014, 07:41:56 PM »
*Whoops, sorry. Posted in the wrong thread. Sorry HD-man* :(

It's OK.
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HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2014, 05:01:29 AM »
My 1st review for this thread is a positive 1 for Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

My favorite serious dino book ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2URWS93D4PO4C/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=184442183X ): 5/5

Of all my serious dino books ( https://www.amazon.com/ideas/amzn1.account.AHGP423NZJT3YDNSVR7I54NEYPMQ/3MZCS9P4ICST4 ), Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs (I.e. History) is definitely my favorite. The quote at the end of this review sums up why. There are 2 analogies that best describe History: 1) A more family-friendly version of Sampson's Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life ( http://palaeoblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/book-review-dinosaur-odyssey.html ); 2) The "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" exhibition ( http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/dinosaurs-ancient-fossils-new-discoveries ) in book form. If I could, I'd give History an extra half star for being extra authoritative. My only gripes are the maniraptoran reconstructions in Chapters 1-9 (all of which have scaly skin &/or pronated hands) & the writing in the middle of Chapter 10 (which isn't as good as that in the beginning or end of Chapter 10). 2 more things of note: 1) Chapter 10 is basically an updated version of Milner's Dino-birds: From Dinosaurs to Birds; 2) The NHM keeps updates on "The Dino Directory" when parts of History become outdated.

"Taking fossil records as its evidence, "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs" treats dinosaurs as a group of living animals, making frequent reference to today's animals as a basis for comparison. This popular approach not only accurately mirrors the methods used by palaeontologists in studying dinosaurs, but also satisfies the overwhelming curiosity of people to know what dinosaurs were like when alive. Unlike an encyclopedia, a data book or even a learned exposition, this book is designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals. The book's direct, clear written style, with all unfamiliar names and technical terms clearly explained, and extensive illustrations make it an ideal introduction to dinosaurs for the older child or adult" ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ).
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 08:40:07 AM by HD-man »
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HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2014, 05:59:01 AM »
My 2nd review for this thread is a negative 1 for Feduccia's Riddle of the Feathered Dragons: Hidden Birds of China. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

More of the same old nonsense ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R47I7QPHDIHYD/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0300164351 ): 1/5

I originally wasn't planning on reviewing Feduccia's Riddle of the Feathered Dragons: Hidden Birds of China (I.e. Riddle), mostly because, to quote Mallison, "the web is full of dissections of BANDit papers" (BAND = Birds Are Not Dinosaurs). Also, anyone who actually looks into the reviewers praising Riddle can see that they're either Feduccia's fellow BANDits (E.g. Storrs L. Olson) or non-experts who naively bought Feduccia's rhetoric (E.g. At least 1 of the 5-star Amazon Reviewers) &/or took Feduccia's side for non-scientific reasons (E.g. D. G. Martin). However, while reading the 5-star Amazon Reviews, I realized that 1) non-experts may not bother looking for reviews of Riddle when there are so many in 1 place, & 2) so many seemingly-good reviews in 1 place may mislead non-experts into thinking that it's a definitely-good book about bird origins & early evolution, an actual example of which is Chiappe's Glorified Dinosaurs: The Origin and Early Evolution of Birds.

Going into Riddle, I was expecting more of the same old nonsense given Feduccia's more recent papers.* Surprise, surprise, that's exactly what I got. Thanks to Mallison's "BANDitry, creationism, and global warming denial", I was better able to keep track of the underhanded BANDit tactics used. In Appendix 1 alone, Feduccia concentrates on individual data points/refuses to look at "big pictures" (See what he says about Erickson et al. 2009 & Pontzer et al. 2009), uses strawman arguments ("One might also consider the alternative to one of their primary questions based on a traditional theropod ancestry of birds...that is, "how birds became miniaturized""), decries perceived methodological weaknesses by others while himself failing to live up to these standards ("Hypotheses of dinosaurian endothermy go way back and have traditionally relied on correlations of metabolic rate with weakly supported criteria"), repeats debunked BANDit claims ("Comparative physiologist John Ruben has long argued, based on data from the muscle physiology of extant reptiles, that the urvogel Archaeopteryx was a flying ectotherm"), fails to understand the methods he criticizes (Cladistics) & advances conspiracy theories about mainstream science (See what he says in the last paragraph).

To sum up, Naish put it best when he said, "It must be understood that Feduccia's opinion is not a valuable, informed alternative or anything like that; rather, it relies on deliberate obfuscation and misinformation and ignorance with respect to what we actually know. I cannot see that he and his colleagues have done anything but add confusion, contradiction and erroneous interpretations to our understanding of bird origins and early evolution" ( https://web.archive.org/web/20161001010355/https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/thor-hanson-feathers-review/ ).

*For those who don't know what the same old nonsense is, Google the following BANDit dissections (I limited my list to those mentioning Riddle either directly or indirectly):
-"BANDitry, creationism, and global warming denial" by Mallison.
-"(Almost) Famous: I'm (mis)quoted in Feduccia's new book!" by Mortimer.
-"Dinosaurs of a Feather" by Switek.
-"Canadian Amber, Fin-Tailed Dinosaurs, and a Despairing Blogger" by Headden.
-"Getting a major chapter on birds - ALL birds - into a major book on dinosaurs" by Naish.
-"On the Structure of Fossil Feathers" by Headden.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 04:49:28 AM by HD-man »
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HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2014, 05:07:03 AM »
My 3rd review for this thread is a positive 1 for Norell et al.'s Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, Expanded and Updated. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

The best dino Q&A book ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BP8LPRNRAT01/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0520225015 ): 5/5

Short version: If you must have a dino Q&A book, get Norell et al.'s Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, Expanded and Updated (I.e. DD). It's as good as dino Q&A books get.

Long version: Read on.

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). DD is the ultimate exception to said genre because it does the exact opposite of all that & MUCH more:
-Precise questions? Check! It helps that DD focuses on quality over quantity (unlike my next review's book, which features "more than 600 questions about dinosaurs").
-Concise answers? Check! Again, it helps that DD focuses on quality over quantity (E.g. DD does in 1 Q&A & 4 pages what takes my next review's book 26 Q&As & 15 pages to do).*
-Good Q&As? Check times infinity! As far as I know, they were accurate at the time of publication, & are still mostly accurate now.** It helps that Norell et al. are the curators of the American Museum of Natural History's (I.e. AMNH's) "Hall of Dinosaurs" & thus know what they're doing (unlike the authors of my next review's book, who are neither experts nor even collaborators with experts). & if that's not good enough, DD is basically 2 books in 1, the 1st section listing the Q&As & the 2nd/3rd/4th section describing the dinos on exhibit in the AMNH's "Hall of Dinosaurs"/the AMNH's dino discoveries from the 1990s/the AMNH's dino expeditions from 1897-2000, respectively.

If I could, I'd give DD a 4.5/5. My only gripes are the lack of life reconstructions (The photos & drawings of fossils are great, but I like it best when a dino book is also illustrated with life reconstructions based on said fossils) & the sit-on-the-fence attitude of Norell et al. when it comes to controversial topics (1st, see the Mallison quote for why that annoys me; Then, compare the Norell et al. quote to the GSPaul quote).*** However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5.

*I'm specifically referring to Q&A #7 in DD ("Why are birds a type of dinosaur?") & 26 Chapter 9 Q&As in my next review's book.

**Google "Dinosaurs Explained - YouTube" for updated versions of DD's Q&As.

***I picked the GSPaul quote because 1) like DD, it's from 2000, & 2) to quote John Kwok, it's from "a splendid summary of the current state of knowledge of dinosaurian paleobiology."

Quoting Mallison ( http://dinosaurpalaeo.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/review-of-brusatte-2012-dinosaur-paleobiology/ ):
Quote
With regards to physiology and in the final chapter on extinction Steve manages to present the highly controversial topics well, the evidence provided by all sides (as opposed to the BADNits with their lack of evidence; they get ignored), then finally sticks his neck out by hanging his hat on an option. Dinosaurs were, Steve concludes, what I term "functional endotherms", whatever the details and tiny differences from birds and mammals, and were killed off either directly and indirectly by the asteroid hit, or with ample help from it.I applaud Steve's decision to not sit on the fence out of a misguided sense of having to report evenly or some such nonsense. The evidence is clearly not evenly supportive of hypotheses, and Steve does a very good job of showing why that is the case. For a scientist that may not be necessary, but many laypeople will read this book, too.

Quoting Norell et al.:
Quote
Were nonavian dinosaurs warm-blooded? The evidence is still equivocal, and most claims that all dinosaurs are "warm-blooded" are speculative. There is no clear-cut evidence that dinosaurs were either cold-blooded or warmblooded, except that dinosaurs evolved endothermy sometime in their history, as documented by living birds.

Quoting GSPaul (See "The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs"):
Quote
Reese Barrick has been involved in leading-edge research that could have only been dreamed of in the 1970s, using bone isotope ratios to more directly measure the thermodynamics of dinosaurs. His essay combines this chemical analysis with other lines of evidence to conclude, as have most other researchers, that Bakker was correct: dinosaurs did not have reptilian energetics, and they consumed and burned oxygen at rates far higher than seen in modern reptiles.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 06:17:12 AM by HD-man »
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HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2014, 04:18:20 PM »
My 4th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Barnes-Svarney/Svarney's The Handy Dinosaur Answer Book. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

The worst dino Q&A book ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2GYUK9TZ7D0HA/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B005SNKTJG ): 2/5

Short version: If you must have a dino Q&A book, get Norell et al.'s Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, Expanded and Updated. The only thing Barnes-Svarney/Svarney's The Handy Dinosaur Answer Book (I.e. Answer) is consistently "handy" for is showing how bad dino Q&A books can get.

Long version: Read on.

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). In my previous review, I referred to Norell et al.'s Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, Expanded and Updated as the ultimate exception to said genre. This review is about Answer, the ultimate epitome of said genre. Before I look at Answer's content, though, I want to briefly look at its paleoart (which is an important part of any popular dino book).

The cover art is a poorly-photoshopped stock photo of inaccurate, cheap-looking CG theropods running around roaring for no apparent reason. I can't even tell what kind of theropods they're supposed to be: On the 1 hand, they have very allosaur-esque heads; On the other hand, they have very ceratosaur-esque arms. The interior art is more of the same as well as stock photos of outdated dino models (E.g. Tail-dragging, swamp-dwelling sauropods & scaly-skinned, bunny-handed dromaeosaurs).

Remember what I said about Answer & the dino Q&A genre earlier? Answer is the ultimate epitome because it does all that & MUCH more:
-Redundant questions? Check (E.g. 7 out of 62 Chapter 9 questions ask, "What...survived the extinction at/did not survive the extinction at/did not disappear at/went extinct at/lived at/survived past the end of the Cretaceous period?")!*
-Vague answers? Check (E.g. See the 1st Barnes-Svarney/Svarney quote; Notice that it doesn't explain what it means by "certain modern reptiles" nor how they & birds are related to dinos nor how we know what we know)!
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity! The 2nd Barnes-Svarney/Svarney quote is the worst because it fails on many levels: It promotes debunked fringe ideas (The 2nd camp's belief); It fails to understand how evolution works (If birds descended from dinos, then they ARE dinos, & thus the 1st & 3rd camps are the same); It fails to understand how much evidence the 1st/3rd camp has ("There are not enough fossils to come to a definite conclusion"); It fails to understand how bad the 2nd camp's arguments are ("All sides have good arguments"); It contradicts itself from a previous Q&A (See the 3rd Barnes-Svarney/Svarney quote; If paleontologists have "good arguments", that implies that they have "acceptable fossil evidence to support" their arguments). & if that's not bad enough, Answer repeats said fails as well as misspells animal names throughout (E.g. In Chapter 9 alone, Dilophosaurus/Rahonavis/P.robusta/dinosaurs/coelurosaurs are misspelled as Dilaphosaurus/Rahona/P.robust/dinosuars/coelurasaurs, respectively).

*Chapter 9 in Answer is "DINOSAUR CONNECTIONS".

Quoting Barnes-Svarney & Svarney:
Quote
What are the closest living relatives to the dinosaurs?
The closest living relatives to the dinosaurs are thought to be certain modern reptiles and birds.

Quoting Barnes-Svarney & Svarney:
Quote
What are the major camps in the dinosaur-bird evolution debate?
There are several camps of paleontologists in the dinosaur-bird evolution debate. One group believes birds descended from certain dinosaurs about 60 million years ago. Another camp believes proto-birds evolved separately from dinosaurs about 200 million years ago. And there is another group that has emerged: scientists who believe that birds are actually dinosaurs. Right now, there are not enough fossils to come to a definite conclusion, and all sides have good arguments. However, with the advent of DNA sequencing, scientists may one day have the answer.

Quoting Barnes-Svarney & Svarney:
Quote
Does everyone believe Archaeopteryx was a link to dinosaurs?
No, not everyone believes Archaeopteryx was a direct link to the dinosaurs. Some scientists believe birds and dinosaurs evolved separately from a common reptilian ancestor, but so far, no one has yet found acceptable fossil evidence to support or disprove this idea.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 06:54:50 AM by HD-man »
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docronnie

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2014, 04:48:45 PM »
I thought I found your favourite book, but what I found was an old edition of The Natural History  Museum Book of Dinosaurs. Is this also Ok?
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 04:51:48 PM by docronnie »
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HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2014, 10:38:10 PM »
I thought I found your favourite book, but what I found was an old edition of The Natural History  Museum Book of Dinosaurs. Is this also Ok?

The older editions were good for their time, but only the 2006 edition ( http://www.amazon.com/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ) is good for today's time. Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 07:55:08 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2014, 02:33:04 PM »
Thanks for the reply! I appreciate it very much.
Keep The Magic Alive and Kicking! :-)

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2014, 06:28:14 AM »
Thanks for the reply! I appreciate it very much.

Many thanks for the kind words! Glad I could help. :)
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 08:31:54 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2014, 02:13:42 AM »
My 5th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Lessem's Dinosaur Worlds. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's for a very good book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

1 of Lessem's best/most underrated books ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1SLNBX289TA4K/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1563975971 ): 4/5

Short version: Before the Walking with Dinosaurs series, Lessem's Dinosaur Worlds (I.e. DW) was, & in some ways still is, the best children's dino book when it came to putting dinos into an evolutionary & ecological context. I recommend reading DW in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs).

Long version: Read on.

You could say Don Lessem is the Don Bluth of dinos: Bluth's pre-1990 work is mostly good, while his post-1990 work is mostly not-so-good; The same goes for Lessem's pre- & post-2000 work, respectively. DW is 1 of Lessem's best/most underrated books: Underrated because it's less popular than it should be; Best because of the reasons listed below.

1) DW is very authoritative, having been authored by "one of the world's foremost authors and presenters of dinosaur information for children and adults" & scientifically supervised by 20 paleontologists, including Peter Dodson (Senior Scientific Advisor), Hans Sues (Animals), Leo Hickey & Robert Spicer (Plants), & Conrad Labandiera (Insects). To quote Taylor ( http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/faq/s-lit/books/ ), "those are big guns firing."

2) DW is very complete. After the Introduction (which summarizes the geologic history & evolution, anatomy, ecology, & discovery of dinos), DW consists of 16 chapters, each of which focuses on a different Mesozoic site (4 Late Triassic, 1 Early Jurassic, 1 Middle Jurassic, 2 Late Jurassic, 4 Early Cretaceous, & 4 Late Cretaceous). Compare that to the 6 chapters of the Walking with Dinosaurs series (1 Late Triassic, 2 Late Jurassic, 2 Early Cretaceous, & 1 Late Cretaceous). Better still, using Holtz's Dinosaurs as a guide, DW features representatives of 26 different dino groups. Compare that to the 16 different dino groups of the Walking with Dinosaurs series.

3) DW is very in-depth. Using Chapter 1 (which focuses on Valley of the Moon, Northwestern Argentina, 228 MYA) as an example, each chapter consists of 5 sections: 1) "Major artwork panorama" reconstructs the site's entire ecosystem ( http://www.listoid.com/image/149/list_3_149_20101216_081455_386.jpg ); 2) "A Look Back In Time" describes the site's environment (A river valley); 3) "Featured Creatures" describes some of the site's dinos & other organisms (Herrerasaurus, Eoraptor, Saurosuchus, & various insects & plants); 4) "Then And Now" compares the site's ecosystem to a modern ecosystem (That of western Wyoming); 5) "How Do We Know" examines the site's fossil evidence (The fossilized remains of Herrerasaurus).

4) DW puts dinos into an evolutionary & ecological context: See reasons #2 & #3 above for how DW does that; Google "Item Mentality and Dinosaurs in Popular Science" & "Alternatives to the Item Mentality in Dinosaur Books and Art" for why it's important that popular dino books do that.

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, while the illustrations by Kirk & Robins are mostly good (E.g. See reason #3 above), those by Field & James are mostly not-so-good (E.g. See the very derpy Giganotosaurus on the cover). For another, there are several weird bits throughout DW. Again, using Chapter 1 as an example, it's claimed that "Eoraptor is an efficient hunter of...larger, slower plant-eaters" despite the fact that "Eoraptor...lacked an extra joint in the middle of its jaw" (which means that Eoraptor would've been limited to small prey).
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 08:40:22 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2014, 02:19:43 AM »
Great and thorough review. One thing though - how has this book aged? It's almost 20 years old

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2014, 04:06:33 AM »
Great and thorough review. One thing though - how has this book aged? It's almost 20 years old

I'd say about as well as WWD. That's why, whenever I review an older book, I recommend reading it "in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs)."
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2014, 07:34:38 PM »
My 6th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Lessem's The Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

1 of Lessem's worst/most overrated books ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3VAJM4MMKUN2D/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1426301642 ): 1/5

Short version: If you want the best encyclopedic dino book for casual readers, get Holtz's Dinosaurs.* Despite its title, Lessem's The Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever (I.e. Dinopedia) is a mixed bag at best & a complete failure at worst.

Long version: Read on.

You could say Don Lessem is the Don Bluth of dinos: Bluth's pre-1990 work is mostly good, while his post-1990 work is mostly not-so-good; The same goes for Lessem's pre- & post-2000 work, respectively. In my previous review, I referred to "Dinosaur Worlds" as 1 of Lessem's best/most underrated books. This review is about Dinopedia, 1 of Lessem's worst/most overrated books: Overrated because it's more popular than it should be; Worst because of the reasons listed below.

1) Dinopedia is a mixed bag in terms of paleoart. In fact, it reminds me of Long's Feathered Dinosaurs (Quoting Miller: "I bought the book expecting a more technical discussion of the animals discussed therein...but was surprised to find beautiful paintings of questionably-restored dinosaurs"), but less beautiful & more questionable. For instance, the dromaeosaurs range from being completely feathered (Microraptor) to lacking primaries (Buitreraptor) to lacking wing feathers altogether (Velociraptor & Deinonychus) to being completely naked (Utahraptor). I could list the other things wrong with Dinopedia's paleoart, but this review is running long. Instead, I'll refer you to Vincent's "Ten Commandments for Dinosaur Collectibles" (which sums up everything wrong with said paleoart: http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2011/11/not-quite-ten-commandments-for-dinosaur.html ).

2) Dinopedia is a confusing mess in terms of organization: The 1st section (I.e. "DISCOVERING DINOSAURS") is a mess because it's scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason (E.g. "Dinosaur Worlds", "Dinosaur Habitats", & "Other Animals From Dinosaur Time" should be together, but are at opposite ends of said section); The 2nd & 3rd sections (I.e. "THE MEAT EATERS" & "THE PLANT EATERS", respectively) are confusing because each begins with a seemingly contradictory version of the "Dinosaur Family Tree" on pages 22-23 (1 with only non-therizinosaur theropods & 1 with all dinos except non-therizinosaur theropods, respectively) & no explanation of why. I'm not saying that there's 1 right way to organize a dino book. However, there should be logical transitions between the chapters & the chapters should flow into each other.

3) Dinopedia is a confusing mess in terms of taxonomy. In fact, it reminds me of GSPaul's The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs (Quoting Switek: "In many cases Paul lumps several species or genera of dinosaurs into one genus, although the criteria do not appear to be consistent. For example, Paul lumps the significantly different horned dinosaurs Styracosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus into the genus Centrosaurus, while...as an extension of one of his own recent papers...he splits minutely different dinosaurs previous grouped under Iguanodon into separate genera such as Dollodon and Mantellisaurus"), but with more lumping & less splitting. For instance, the dromaeosaur family is used to encompass every coelurosaur that isn't a tyrannosaur, an ornithomimosaur, a therizinosaur, or a bird as well as some non-coelurosaurs (E.g. The carnosaur Xuanhanosaurus, the chimeric archosaur "Protoavis", & the ankylosaur Struthiosaurus). Again, I could list the other things wrong with Dinopedia's taxonomy, but this review is running long. Instead, I'll refer you to SpongeBobFossilPants' "Dinosaur Taxonomy From A 2010 Kids' Encyclopedia" (which sums up everything wrong with said taxonomy: https://web.archive.org/web/20151024143133/http://spongebobfossilpants.deviantart.com/journal/Dinosaur-Taxonomy-From-A-2010-Kids-Encyclopedia-448840381 ).

4) Dinopedia is a complete failure in terms of completeness, especially when compared to Holtz's Dinosaurs:
-It's claimed that Dinopedia is "the most complete dinosaur reference ever". However, while Holtz keeps updates on "Supplementary Information for Holtz's Dinosaurs" when parts of his book become outdated, Lessem does no such thing for his book. Therefore, Dinopedia will never be as complete as Holtz's Dinosaurs. Even if you compare said books at the time of publication, Dinopedia still fails in the following ways.
-It's claimed that "the incredible Dino Dictionary lists almost every dinosaur [genus] ever known". However, I only counted 683 dino genera (2 Mesozoic birds & 681 non-bird dinos) in Dinopedia. Compare that to the 801 dino genera (108 Mesozoic birds & 693 non-bird dinos) in Holtz's Dinosaurs. Last I checked, "almost every" = "all but a negligible [percentage]", & ~15% of dino genera is definitely NOT "negligible".
-It's claimed that "the most current research and thinking is all here". However, Dinopedia fails to cover many dino-related subjects (E.g. "Rocks and Environment", "Bringing Dinosaurs to Life: The Science of Dinosaur Art", "Taxonomy: Why Do Dinosaurs Have Such Strange Names?", & "Evolution: Descent with Modification") & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner: Sometimes, it simplifies things to the point of being meaningless; This happens mostly in the main text, but also in the sidebar text (E.g. See the Lessem quote; Notice that it fails to mention either Sinosauropteryx, the 1st non-bird dino to be found with evidence of color, or melanosomes, the evidence of color); Other times, it's just plain wrong;** This happens mostly in the sidebar text, but also in the main text (E.g. On page 20, not only does it wrongly claim that "the first animals came up on land [300 MYA]", but in doing so contradicts the sidebar text on the same page).

*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "Supplementary Information for Holtz's Dinosaurs" & read the reviews for yourself.

**Even if you only read "THE TABS" & the "FACT BOXES", you'll see that there's an average of at least 1 or 2 factual errors per page in Dinopedia, a 272 page book.

Quoting Lessem:
Quote
Fossils generally give no information about the outer appearance of animals. So until very recently, scientists had no idea what color dinosaurs might have been. But a fossil of Anchiornis (p. 216), a newly discovered chicken-sized meat eater from China, contained a surprise. Anchiornis's fossils were very well preserved, so its feathers survived. They showed black and white wings and a reddish head. Many feathers were studied to reveal the animal's color pattern. The picture to the left shows what this meat eater might have looked like.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 11:06:26 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2014, 04:26:23 AM »
My 7th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Wild Kratts. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Yes" votes it can get because it's for a great show that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

Better than their previous best ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2YG8ZL43RYDFO/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00652U6WE ): 5/5

Short version: If I was going to build the perfect science/nature edutainment show, I'd build a Kratt show. If I was going to build the perfect Kratt show, I'd build a Wild Kratts (henceforth WK) because it's just the right blend of education & entertainment. There are few good science/nature shows on TV, making WK all the more important.*

Long version: Read on.

As you may have noticed, I usually review non-fiction books. That's because non-fiction books are more structured than other forms of edutainment (& thus, easier for me to review). However, I feel so strongly about WK that I had to make an exception. In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I think WK is currently the best science/nature edutainment show while using the "Raptor Roundup" episode (I.e. My favorite episode) as an example.

1) In WK, all the characters are a ton of fun: For 1, the WK crew reminds me of Mystery Incorporated, but better defined/developed; Chris & Martin (henceforth the Kratts) are, like Fred, the leaders, but also "real-life zoologists" ( http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-kratt-brothers-get-animated-when-wild-kratts-shows-kids-that-animals-can-take-you-anywhere-in-science-on-pbs-kids-go---january-2011-112241999.html ); Aviva is, like Daphne, the hot girl, but also a brilliant inventor; Koki is, like Velma, the researcher, but also a sassy black woman; Jimmy is, like Shaggy, the lovable coward, but also a "master gamer" ( http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-kratt-brothers-get-animated-when-wild-kratts-shows-kids-that-animals-can-take-you-anywhere-in-science-on-pbs-kids-go---january-2011-112241999.html ); All that's missing is the animal mascot (unless you count the Tortuga HQ); For another, the WK villains remind me of Disney villains, but with unique twists; Chef Gourmand is like Chef Louis from The Little Mermaid, but with a Southern accent instead of a French 1; Also, Gourmand specializes in cooking with endangered animals; Donita Donata is like Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, but with 1 bumbling henchman (Dabio) instead of 2; Also, Donita freezes animals in suspended animation to use for jewelry/clothes; & don't tell me Zach Varmitech's incredibly shrill voice doesn't remind you of Iago from Aladdin.

2) Growing up, my favorite stories were animated animal adventures (E.g. Walt Disney Animated Classics) & real-life animal adventures (E.g. True-Life Adventures). WK combines the best of both worlds with animated versions of real-life animal adventures. Better still, said adventures are based around key scientific concepts (E.g. In "Raptor Roundup", the Kratts challenge themselves to ID as many raptors as they can; We learn about classification).

3) There are 3 main reasons for WK's good humor: 1) Funny characters who can be summed up by Dr. Cox's rant in the "My Fishbowl" episode of Scrubs; Aviva, like Carla, is "very funny...WHEN [she's] being sarcastic or [she's] up on [her] high horse"; Zach, like Elliot, "is funniest when [he's] an anal retentive train wreck" (The same goes for Donita); Koki, like Turk, "sells it with a cocky attitude"; Gourmand, like Janitor, "is amusing because quite frankly he's insane"; The Zachbots "can turn a phrase"; Dabio has a funny name (Fabio with a D); Jimmy, like Ted, "is the hospital sad sack"; The Kratts, like Dr. Cox, are "funny because [they] commit"; 2) Clever dialogue; Martin's animal names (E.g. "Stomp" the secretary bird) & Gourmand's dish names (E.g. "Raptor amandine. Vulture bouillabaisse. Eagle Gorgonzola. Ooh, owl étouffée. And falcon fritters") are especially good examples of WK's witty wordplay; 3) Classic physical comedy; The battles between the Kratts & Gourmand, like those between Sebastian & Louis, recall "the dark slapstick of classic era Warner Bros. cartoons" ( http://www.dvdjournal.com/quickreviews/l/littlemermaid.q.shtml ).

4) To quote Sampson ( http://edge.org/3rd_culture/sampson05/sampson05_index.html ), "The web of life is composed of two distinctly different kinds of threads<those that link organisms at any given moment in time through the flow of energy (ecology), and those that link all lifeforms through deep time via genetic information and shared common ancestry (evolution). Seen from this dual and complementary perspective, the two themes are inseparable. Without evolution, our vision is severely limited to the present day and we cannot begin to fathom the blossoming of life's diversity from single-celled forebears. Without ecology, the intricate interconnections we share with the current panoply of lifeforms cannot truly be envisioned. United in a single theme, evolution and ecology provide a powerful lens through which to view life's web, forming the foundation of an integrated and underutilized perspective on nature. In short, we need dramatic increases in levels of both ecological literacy, or "ecoliteracy," and evolutionary literacy, or "evoliteracy," with this dynamic pair of concepts reinforcing each other." That's exactly what WK does. "Raptor Roundup" is an especially good example of evoliteracy (E.g. "Got to love raptors...Fantastic flyers with powerful talon feet. Direct descendants of dinosaurs...Who still fly the skies today. Raptors are one of the most awesome creature families on the planet. They're not meant to be fried or fricasseed. They belong living free and in the wild") & ecoliteracy (E.g. "And the great thing about raptors is no matter where you live. Or what the weather's like. Raptors are flying all around. So get to know the raptors that live around you. Keep on creature venturing. And keep on identifying...Raptors!...See you on the creature trail") reinforcing each other.

*As far as I know, the BBC & PBS are the only channels that still make consistently good science/nature shows (E.g. Life & Wild Kratts, respectively). I used to love watching the Discovery Channel & Animal Planet, but now they're full of garbage like Yukon Men ( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/nature-up/2013/may/17/bloodthirtsty-wildlife-documentaries-reality-ethics ) & Mermaids ( http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/29/mermaids-return-from-the-depths-of-tvs-chum-bucket/ ), respectively.
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