Author Topic: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!  (Read 11103 times)

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2014, 07:46:11 PM »
My 8th review for this thread is a negative 1 for The Magic School Bus. 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.

Not nearly as good as the original books ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1A9PA105I2590/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B007I1Q4RM ): 2/5

Short version: The Nostalgia Critic put it best when he said (in reference to The Last Airbender), "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I know it gets really annoying every single time I say "in the show", because it's an adaptation. Adaptations, you gotta make changes, I understand that, I really understand that, but... it's gotta be changes that make sense, guys!" Not that The Magic School Bus is the worst edutainment adaptation, but I just don't think it holds a candle to the original books.

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 The Magic School Bus that I had to make an exception. In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I don't think "The Busasaurus" (henceforth TB) in particular & the show in general holds a candle to "In the Time of the Dinosaurs" (henceforth Time) in particular & the books in general.

1) In Time, Ms. Frizzle, Liz, & Arnold are the only well-defined/developed characters (E.g. We learn that Ms. Frizzle's 1st name is Valerie & that she went to high school with Jeff, her paleontologist friend). The non-Arnold kids are basically wallpaper. The same goes for the books in general. On the show, the good characters are even better developed (E.g. Ms. Frizzle is basically the female Willy Wonka), while the not-so-good characters are almost exclusively defined by their catchphrases & range from bland to awful: On the bland side, there's Tim, who's basically the Franklin to the show's Peanuts (I.e. He doesn't even have his own catchphrase); On the awful side, there's Carlos, who's basically a FOX Newsman (I.e. He's an arrogant, obnoxious, fear/hate-mongering bigot). TB in particular shows the good characters at their best (E.g. Arnold saves the class from a T.rex) & the not-so-good characters at their worst (E.g. Carlos spouts anti-dino speeches at every available opportunity).

2) In Time, most of the ornithischians & some of the saurischians are depicted with wonky hand &/or foot anatomy. Otherwise, the animals are mostly accurate for the time. The same goes for the books in general, but not the show. See "Review update #8 (It's a big 1)!" for how TB in particular fails: http://jd-man.deviantart.com/journal/Review-update-8-It-s-a-big-1-475071561

3) In both Time & TB, the class visits Ms. Frizzle's paleontologist friend at a dino dig. However, the similarity ends there: On the 1 hand, in Time, the class travels back to the Late Cretaceous Period "to look for some Maiasaura nests" because "paleontologists have uncovered the bones of some Maiasaura...but are disappointed that they haven't found any nests" (See "Editorial Reviews": http://www.amazon.com/The-Magic-School-Time-Dinosaurs/dp/0590446894 ); We learn that "Dinosaurs Were Special" compared to "today's reptiles" (E.g. "Some dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded. All of today's reptiles are cold-blooded"); On the other hand, in TB, the class travels back to the Late Cretaceous Period "to see what those ancient reptiles...were really like" because Carlos brought up his "prejudices and preconceptions about dinosaurs" (See "Editorial Reviews": http://www.amazon.com/The-Magic-School-Bus-Busasaurus/dp/6304400683 ); We learn that "there are more plant eaters than meat eaters. The meat eaters wanted a quick meal without getting hurt. They were not blood thirsty monsters" ( http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/nttidb/lessons/as/dinoas.html ). I have 3 major problems with TB's story-related changes:* 1) T.rex shouldn't have replaced Maiasaura as the main dino; For 1, T.rex is the most overexposed & overstudied dino; For another, a cameo like in Time (I.e. 1 T.rex turns its head & glances at the class, but otherwise pays no mind to them) would've made more sense given TB's lesson; 2) TB, among other episodes, shouldn't have been based around Carlos' prejudices & preconceptions; Google Books search "Considering Effects in Context As" for why; 3) All carnivorous dinos shouldn't have been depicted as being dangerous & all herbivorous dinos shouldn't have been depicted as being friendly because, to quote Bakker (See Maximum Triceratops), "that's wrong. In nature today, the most dangerous critters on land are huge, strong vegetarians. African elephants charge lions and try to squash their cubs. Black rhinos use their long horns to spear hyenas. Hippos use their big teeth to chop crocodiles in half."

4) In Time, the epilogue consists of 2 pages in which Cole & Degen recognize some major falsehood in the story (E.g. "A BUS CAN'T BECOME A TIME MACHINE") & expand on what we learn from the story (E.g. "Birds are the dinosaurs of today"). The same goes for the books in general. On the show, the epilogue consists of 3 minutes (including the completely pointless & slightly racist intro) in which the producers or guest stars do the same thing while taking phone calls from kids. I have 2 major problems with the show's epilogue: 1) Unlike the book's epilogue (which concentrates on expansion), the show's epilogue gives equal time to recognition; 2) The show's epilogue fails to cover many story-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner (I.e. Sometimes, it simplifies things to the point of being meaningless; Other times, it's just plain wrong). Again, see "Review update #8 (It's a big 1)!" for how TB in particular fails: http://jd-man.deviantart.com/journal/Review-update-8-It-s-a-big-1-475071561

*I don't have a problem with all of TB's changes. In fact, I like that Carmina replaced Jeff as Ms. Frizzle's paleontologist friend given that there aren't enough "female characters with personalities" in cartoons ( http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2013/03/revisiting-my-little-pony-friendship-is.html ).
« Last Edit: December 13, 2019, 09:40:35 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 #21 on: March 10, 2015, 03:53:45 AM »
My 9th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Bakker's Prehistoric Monsters. 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.

An updated version of a childhood classic ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3SMN5XFG3FA2P/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B009MYAUD2 ): 5/5

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up with Zallinger's work in general & Prehistoric Animals (henceforth PA) in particular. Bakker's Prehistoric Monsters (henceforth PM) is basically an updated version of PA. In fact, despite being 8 pages shorter & not illustrated by the author (which are my only gripes), PM is even better than PA: For 1, PM's text is more concise (E.g. PM does in 2 pages what takes PA 4 pages to do: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1bqRipU625Q/R73IPEi8D1I/AAAAAAAAAf0/g2r7-5eEdSA/s1600-h/Bakker+Book+B+resized.jpeg ); For another, PM's paleoart is more realistic (I.e. To paraphrase Switek, "[Rey's] animals run, swim, breach, flap, chomp, skitter, and lope through the landscapes, giving the viewer the impression that they're really watching a prehistoric scene rather than an obedient dinosaur posing for the artist"); For yet another, PM is more complete overall, covering a greater length of geologic time (3+ billion years vs. 500+ million years) & a greater variety of animal life, especially invertebrates. In short, PM is the best introduction to the history of animal life on Earth for younger kids.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 09:13:20 AM by HD-man »
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docronnie

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2015, 11:14:46 PM »
Thanks for the reviews! :D
Keep The Magic Alive and Kicking! :-)

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2015, 05:54:18 PM »
Thanks for the reviews! :D

Thanks for reading (&, hopefully, voting Yes for) the reviews! :D
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2015, 03:20:13 AM »
My 10th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Brusatte/Benton's 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 outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

A representation of uninformed laziness ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3J1R5BYAZABGZ/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1847244173 ): 1/5

Short Version: If you want the best digital paleoart, get Csotonyi's The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi. If you want the best natural history of dinos, get Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs. If you want the best collection of dino profiles, get GSPaul's The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. Brusatte/Benton's Dinosaurs fails at being any of these or even just decent in its own right.

Long Version: Read on.

Benton & Brusatte are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. See Brusatte's Dinosaur Paleobiology). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast. Dinosaurs in particular is so bad that Naish described it as a representation of "uninformed laziness" ( ). In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I think Dinosaurs is that bad.

1) The writing is annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the Brusatte/Benton quote)/repetitive (E.g. On average, the word "dominate" is used once or twice per page in Dinosaurs, a 224 page book; In fact, it's used 3 times, back-to-back, in the 1st paragraph alone)/inconsistent (E.g. It goes back & forth between "story" & "storey" throughout Dinosaurs).

2) The text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in the dino profiles because the misses stick out more with less text. That of the Protoceratops profile is some of the worst: On page 205, Protoceratops is described as being "a small, generalized grazer of low plants"; Also, on the same page, it's claimed that "the frill anchored strong jaw muscles...that helped Protoceratops mow through shrubs and bushes". When I 1st read that, all I could think was "BS": For 1 (in reference to "on page 205"), "the hooked beak of the snout together with the predentary...strongly suggests that these herbivores were capable of a great deal of selective feeding" (See Fastovsky/Weishampel's The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs); For another (in reference to "also"), "there are many problems with this idea, starting with the fact that no living animal has such strange lengthy jaw muscles. Such muscles would have been terribly vulnerable to injury if males really did fight with each other as we think likely" (See Lanzendorf's Dinosaur Imagery: The Science of Lost Worlds and Jurassic Art: The Lanzendorf Collection).

3) Planet Dinosaur (which is a decent dino doc in its own right) was billed as the new Walking With Dinosaurs (which is the 1st natural history doc about dinos). However, to quote Albertonykus ( http://albertonykus.blogspot.com/2011/11/planet-dinosaur-great-survivors.html ), "One of the less desirable characteristics of Planet Dinosaur is that it's very theropod centric...Planet Dinosaur probably should have been called "Planet Theropod"." Likewise, Dinosaurs should've been called "Theropods": It's claimed that Dinosaurs is a natural history of dinos several times throughout (E.g. "The rich, unfolding drama of the Age of Dinosaurs is the theme of this book"); However, while 5 sub-chapters focus on theropods (1 for tetanurans, 1 for coelurosaurs, 1 for bird origins & evolution, 1 for Chinese feathered dinos, & 1 for T.rex), only 3 focus on non-theropods (2 for sauropodomorphs & 1 for ornithischians).*

4) Pixel-shack's digital paleoart is the worst I've seen in a post-2000 popular dino book. In Dinosaurs, some of the reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions (E.g. The Spinosaurus is a shameless rip-off of the Jurassic Park Spinosaurus). Others are poorly-photoshopped animals (E.g. The non-dino Euparkeria is a poorly-photoshopped green iguana). Still others are just plain outdated/abominable. The deinonychosaurs are especially outdated: To quote Naish ( https://web.archive.org/web/20160917075952/http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/great-dinosaur-art-event-of-2012/ ), "When a dinosaur book published in 2011 features scaly-skinned, completely un-feathered dromaeosaurs with down-facing palms, and yet was supposedly checked by one of the world's most famous and respected vertebrate palaeontologists, we know we have a problem"; & if that's not bad enough, most of them are depicted with Velociraptor's head; This is especially apparent in the Dromaeosaurus (See "Voir les 7 images": http://www.amazon.fr/Dinosaures-Steve-Brusatte/dp/2753300720 ) because it's also a shameless rip-off of Kokoro's Velociraptor. Likewise, the ceratopsians are especially abominable: Most of them are depicted as being piles of poop (I'm not trying to be creative or vulgar with my language; They really look like piles of poop); This is especially apparent in the Torosaurus ( http://rpg2006.cgsociety.org/art/dinosaur-lightwave-torosaurus-3d-photoshop-555995/ ) because it's even lumpier & darker brown than the others; & if that's not bad enough, the Torosaurus is also a shameless rip-off of the Walking With Dinosaurs Torosaurus.

*A decent natural history of dinos would combine the 1 for bird origins & evolution with the 1 for Chinese feathered dinos (as in Chapter 10 of Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs). Also, it would use T.rex as a vehicle to address a broader range of topics (as with Baryonyx in Chapter 9 of Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs).

Quoting Brusatte/Benton:
Quote
In 1922 Andrews' team discovered a heavily crushed but remarkably complete skull of a small theropod. This skull was very similar to Brown's Dromaeosaurus, but found alongside was something paleontologists had never seen before: a giant, curved and dangerously sharp toe claw. Two years later museum scientist Henry Fairfield Osborn named this new animal Velociraptor, the 'speedy thief'. It was a nightmarish creature, a human-sized carnivore that could rip prey apart with its lethal claws and array of knife-like teeth.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 05:33:44 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 #25 on: May 04, 2015, 11:59:52 PM »
My 11th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Sloan's Feathered 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.

1 of the books that got me into feathered dinos ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1UO9MSFJ9W37N/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0792272196 ): 5/5

Short version: Before the Dinosaur Train series, Sloan's Feathered Dinosaurs (henceforth FD) was, & in some ways still is, the best children's dino book when it came to introducing kids to feathered dinos. I recommend reading FD in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs in general & Chapter 10 in particular).

Long version: Read on.

FD was 1 of the books that got me into feathered dinos, along with Cooley/Wilson's Make-a-saurus: My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is.

1) All the paleoart is beautiful, but the real highlights of FD are Czerkas' & Cooley's life-like models of feathered dinos (which are on the cover & in Chapter 4, respectively) & GSPaul's field guide-esque drawings of feathered dinos (which "are sprinkled throughout"): To quote Witton ( http://markwitton-com.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-mysterious-mysteries-of-feather.html ), "it's not surprising that many laymen think that feathered theropods look silly. Many of the more memorable and longest-lived reconstructions of them are, and perhaps these are what most folks think of when the words 'feathered dinosaur' come to mind. Scaly theropods undeniably looked more intuitively plausible, not to mention more aesthetically pleasing, than a lot of the weird imagery once thrown about by palaeoartists"; Thanks to said models & drawings (which look like real animals), I didn't have that problem.

2) FD is not a natural history of feathered dinos per se, but it is "designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals" ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ): After the Introduction by Currie, FD consists of 6 chapters, beginning with the history of "the dinosaur-bird connection" from the 1860s to the 1970s, continuing with the skeletal & behavioral evidence, & ending with the Chinese feathered dinos; The middle chapters are especially good at showing how we know what we know, explaining the scientific process without dumbing down; This reminds me of the Dinosaur Train series, but for older kids.

If I could, I'd give FD a 4.5/5. My only gripes are the paleoart in the middle chapters (some of which is outdated to varying degrees) & the terminology in the middle chapters (some of which isn't illustrated). However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5. 2 more things of note: 1) Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs gives the best idea of what we've learned since FD (E.g. Compare the Sloan quote to the Gardom/Milner quote); 2) Sloan's How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries Yet Unsolved does not (I.e. Some of the paleoart is anything but beautiful & some of the science is dumbed down).*

*When I say "Some of the paleoart", I mean Groves' abominable models of feathered dinos (which look like movie monsters). Don't take my word for it, though. Compare the cover of Sloan's How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries Yet Unsolved to those of FD & Cooley/Wilson's Make-a-saurus: My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs.

Quoting Sloan:
Quote
Increasing-evidence shows that the prey-grabbing motion of a dinosaur's arms is like the flight stroke of a bird. Early feathers may have been useful for extra balance or to boost jumping. Eventually dinosaurs became airborne as they leaped for prey.
Birdlike dinosaurs also may have climbed trees and become flyers as they jumped or glided down. We'll probably never know whether flight evolved from the ground or in trees. The important thing is how the flight stroke evolved.

Quoting Gardom/Milner:
Quote
Recent studies on escape behaviour in modern ground-living birds such as quail and partridge provides an interesting addition to the debate. They employ 'wing-assisted vertical running' to get off the ground, beating their wings rapidly to generate a down force to help them stick to the substrate while climbing a bush or tree trunk. Even the fluff on chicks' wings increases the wing surface area sufficiently to allow efficient climbing. Thus it has been suggested that dino-bird arm feathers could have functioned in the same way...as downforce generators and 'proto-wing' gliding structures. They prey-catching idea is now giving way to an hypothesis that the selective pressures leading to flight may have arisen as a predator escape mechanism in small theropods whereby the presence of feathered arms would aid rapid climbing away from danger and allow gliding from perch to perch or perch to ground. Archaeopteryx represents a late stage in this process with a modern wing configuration of asymmetric primary and secondary flight feathers permitting limited stable powered flight.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 07:50:10 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 #26 on: May 12, 2015, 07:03:46 AM »
My 12th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Mash's How to Keep 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 outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

Good idea, bad execution ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BRQGIJNZWTQH/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0297843478 ): 1/5

I was originally planning on reviewing Mash's How to Keep Dinosaurs (henceforth HK) the way I usually review bad dino books. However, I then remembered that Naish's HK review is so perfect (especially when it comes to criticizing Pixel-shack's digital paleoart: https://web.archive.org/web/20130521090221/http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/01/02/how-not-to-keep-dinosaurs/ ) that I can't possibly top it, so I won't even try. Instead, in this review, I'll point you to Naish's HK review & add my own thoughts as well:
-I'm surprised that Naish didn't mention Dawkins given that, to quote Naish ( https://web.archive.org/web/20160917075952/http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/great-dinosaur-art-event-of-2012/ ), "There are good consultants, but there are downright useless consultants". Dawkins may be a great evolutionary biologist & technical writer, but he's "downright useless" as a consultant of popular dino books. In HK, Dawkins' Foreword is very pretentious/acidic/inaccurate (E.g. See the Dawkins quote).
-To quote Naish, "the author notes that the book is a practical manual rather than a taxonomic treatise". This is in reference to Mash referring to non-dinos (E.g. Pterosaurs) as dinos. In other words, Mash is saying, "What I'm doing is wrong, I know it's wrong, but I'm gonna do it anyway" ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WebVideo/TheMysteriousMrEnter ).
-The only consistently good thing about HK is the paleontology in-jokes: On page 51, it's claimed that "Deinonychus was discovered only in 1969" & that they "play in groups of four"; The 1st quote is in reference to Ostrom 1969 (I.e. "Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus, an Unusual Theropod from the Lower Cretaceous of Montana") & the 2nd quote is in reference to "the Four Raptor Site" ( https://blog.hmns.org/2010/03/raptors-group-hunters-or-cannibals/ ). However, to quote Naish, "seeing as how few palaeontologists will read this book...most of these jokes are going to be missed."
-To quote Naish, HK "could have been a really interesting experiment in the reconstruction of behaviour, and on whatever imaginary perils and pitfalls might befall any attempt to bring dinosaurs into the human world." Personally, I'd love to see an adult book version of Conway's "The Dinosaur Pet Guide" ( http://johnconway.co/dinosaur_pet_guide ) in the style of Conway et al.'s All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals. Until then, the closest thing we have is Bradley's Care & Feeding Of Dinosaurs, a very good but outdated (E.g. Un-feathered coelurosaurs) children's book.

Quoting Dawkins:
Quote
The book can be appreciated on many levels. It is by no means only an owner's manual, though it is indispensably that. For all its sound practical advice, it could only have been written by a professional zoologist, drawing deeply on theory and scholarship. Many of the facts herein are accurate. The world of dinosaurs has always been richly provided with wonder and amazement, and Mash's manual only adds to the mixture. As a theological aside, creationists (now excitingly rebranded as Intelligent Design Theorists) will find it an invaluable resource in their battle against the preposterous canard that humans and dinosaurs are separated by 65 million years of geological time.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 06:17:40 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 #27 on: June 01, 2015, 09:08:22 PM »
My 13th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Martill/Naish's Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence - How Did They Know That?. 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.

The best adult WWD book ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1NXSYJDL0LBHM/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0563537434 ): 4/5

Short version: If you want the best adult WWD book, get Martill/Naish's Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence - How Did They Know That? (henceforth Evidence). I recommend reading Evidence in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs).

Long version: Read on.

As far as I know, there are 3 adult WWD books: The 1st 1 is Haines' Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History, a decent natural history of dinos with a chronological format; The 2nd 1 is Benton's Walking With Dinosaurs: Fascinating Facts, a bad natural history of dinos with a Q&A format; The 3rd & last 1 is Evidence. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Evidence is the best 1.

1) Evidence does the same things as the other adult WWD books, but better:
-Like the 1st 1, Evidence has a chronological format with each chapter focusing on a different Mesozoic site (1 Late Triassic, 2 Late Jurassic, 2 Early Cretaceous, & 1 Late Cretaceous). Unlike the 1st 1, each chapter shows how we know what we know.
-Like the 2nd 1, Evidence has a Q&A format with each chapter divided into sections & each section having a sub-title (which is often a question). Unlike the 2nd 1, the questions are precise, the answers are concise, & the Q&As are good.

2) Evidence does things that the other adult WWD books don't:
-On the 1 hand, the 1st 1 "is transcribed natural history documentary...I don't know if it's actually the script from the TV programmes, but it's very similar in flavour if not detail. This means that it shares the programmes' fatal weakness that you can't tell what's fact, what's pure speculation and what's in between" ( http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/books/#gsc.tab=0 ). On the other hand, Evidence "admirably [fills] this gap" ( http://paleoaerie.org/recommended/ ).
-On the 1 hand, the 2nd 1 has almost nothing to do with WWD (There's a bit about the making of WWD in Chapter 2 & a series of color plates; That's about it). On the other hand, Evidence has everything to do with WWD ("Bringing these animals back to life for [WWD] relied on two primary sources of information...In this book we explore this information to show the scientific methodology behind the scenes of [WWD]").

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, "some of the animals, such as the Tyrannosaurus, were highly inaccurate" (See DK's Ask Me Everything). For another, there are several weird bits throughout WWD that pass without comment (E.g. The Diplodocus ovipositor). 2 more things of note: 1) Holtz's Dinosaurs gives the best idea of what we've learned since WWD (E.g. Compare the Martill/Naish quote to the Holtz quote); 2) Haines/Chambers' The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life does not (I.e. It either makes the same mistakes as WWD or comes up with new ones).

Quoting Martill/Naish:
Quote
While it is by no means impossible that Deinonychus and other dromaeosaurs did cooperate and hunt like this, other possibilities exist. Perhaps the dromaeosaurs exhibited mobbing behaviour...that is, they they did not live together permanently (like truly social animals, such as wolves and lions) but simply cooperated when prey was available. Some predatory lizards, crocodiles and birds still do this today. True pack behaviour for Deinonychus seems unlikely if it means that they routinely attacked an animal that usually ended up killing several of the pack members!

Quoting Holtz:
Quote
If a pack of wolves or a pride of lions loses a couple of members during an attack, the group may become too weak to hunt effectively. But dinosaurs were not mammals. Because each adult female could lay a dozen or more eggs every year, they could replenish their numbers more easily than mammals. So a raptor pack could lose more hunters every year than a lion pride and still be successful.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2018, 03:36:18 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2015, 09:37:40 PM »
My 14th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Benton's Walking With Dinosaurs: Fascinating Facts. 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: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/walking-with-dinosaurs-mike-benton/1113109118?ean=9780789471680 ). Many thanks in advance.

The worst adult WWD book ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RA7SEUWSUPTX1/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=078947168X ): 2/5

Short version: If you want the best natural history of dinos, get Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs. If you want the best dino Q&A book, get Norell et al.'s Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, Expanded and Updated. If you want the best adult WWD book, get Martill/Naish's Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence - How Did They Know That?. Benton's Walking With Dinosaurs: Fascinating Facts (henceforth Facts) fails at being any of these or even just decent in its own right.

Long version: Read on.

Benton & Brusatte are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. See Brusatte's Dinosaur Paleobiology). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast. In my previous review, I referred to Martill/Naish's Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence - How Did They Know That? as the best adult WWD book. In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I think Facts is the worst adult WWD book, among other things.

1) There are several weird bits throughout Facts, including illustrations that are tracings of famous reconstructions (E.g. GSPaul's "Tarbosaurus and Therizinosaurus" & Skrepnick's "Caudipteryx zoui" in Chapter 8 & 9, respectively) & captions that misidentify said reconstructions (E.g. Tarbosaurus/Therizinosaurus/Caudipteryx are misidentified as Sinraptor/Alxasaurus/"a troodontid-like dinosaur", respectively).

2) It's claimed that Facts is a natural history of dinos in the Introduction ("In [Facts], you can read all the background details and discover how dinosaurs moved and fed, how they mated and looked after their young, how they fought and defended themselves, whether they were warm-blooded or not, what noises they might have made, and the latest thinking on why they died out"). Being well-organized is especially important to a natural history of dinos given that it's "designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals" ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ). The problem is that Facts is anything but: A decent natural history of dinos wouldn't wait until Chapter 9 to define dinos ("Throughout this book, we've been flinging around terms with abandon such as "theropod," "sauropod," "stegosaur" and the like. It's time now to establish clearly just what these groups were"); Also, it wouldn't take physiology & shoehorn it into the middle of a chapter about attack & defense (as in Chapter 8 of Facts).

3) It is not claimed that Facts is a dino Q&A book, but it is implied by the format (Each chapter is divided into sections; Each section has a sub-title, which is often a question). 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). The problem is that Facts does all that & MUCH more:
-Redundant questions? Check (E.g. "Wild and preposterous notions", "Unfettered speculation", & "Untestable nonsense" are the sub-titles of 3 back-to-back Q&As in Chapter 10)!
-Vague answers? Check (E.g. See the 1st Benton quote; Notice that it doesn't explain what it means by "some astonishing new specimens" nor how they "allowed paleo-ornithologists to fill lots of gaps in the evolutionary tree of birds")!
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity (E.g. 1st, see the 2nd Benton quote; Then, google "Dinosauroids revisited, revisited" for why it's bad)!

4) Despite its title, Facts has almost nothing to do with WWD: There's a bit about the making of WWD in Chapter 2 & a series of color plates; That's about it.

Quoting Benton:
Quote
Bird evolution after Archaeopteryx
Until 1990 very little was known about bird evolution during the bulk of the Cretaceous. Othniel Marsh had described in the 1880s some remarkable toothed birds from the Late Cretaceous of North America, Hesperornis and Ichthyornis. Only odd scraps of other birds had come to light before the appearance of modern birds at the very end of the Mesozoic, sixty-five million years ago. Then, some astonishing new specimens were announced, first four or five specimens from Spain, and then dozens from China...These new specimens were all exquisitely preserved, showing every bone, feathers, even beaks and claws. They allowed paleo-ornithologists to fill lots of gaps in the evolutionary tree of birds. Next time you see a sparrow twittering in the hedgerow, remember you are looking a cousin of Tyrannosaurus in the eye. And be very, very scared.

Quoting Benton:
Quote
Humanoid dinosaurs?
There is no doubt about the intelligence of the troodontids. Unlike all other dinosaurs, they have a bulbous braincase, more bird than reptile. In part, the brain was enlarged in the sensory regions: so troodontids had large eyes and a good sense of smell, as well as a good sense of hearing. But, it's been speculated, improved sense and pack hunting mean more actual intelligence. In 1982 the Canadian paleontologist Dale Russell speculated about what might have happened had the dinosaurs not died out 65 million years ago. Perhaps the troodontids would have inherited the earth, becoming ever more humanoid. He and sculptor R. Séguin created a model of a dinosaurian humanoid, based on the projected evolution of troodontids through another 65 million years. It has a bulbous cranium, large goggly eyes, and it walks upright without a balancing tail. Scary concept.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2018, 03:38:26 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2015, 04:27:30 PM »
My 15th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Bakker's Maximum Triceratops. 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 day-in-the-life dino books ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R16K64LXYBME69/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0375823042 ): 5/5

Short version: If I was going to build the perfect children's dino book, I'd build a Bakker book. If I was going to build the perfect Bakker book, I'd build a "Step-into-Reading" book because it's just the right blend of education & entertainment. In other words, Bakker's "Step-into-Reading" books are to children's dino books what Wild Kratts is to science/nature edutainment shows (
https://www.amazon.com/review/R2YG8ZL43RYDFO/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00652U6WE ).

Long version: Read on.

Growing up, my favorite children's dino books were day-in-the-life dino books because, when they're done right, they give the best idea of what dinos were like when alive as well as how we know what we know. Of all the day-in-the-life dino books I've read, Bakker's "Step-into-Reading" books (Raptor Pack, Maximum Triceratops, & Dactyls! Dragons of the Air) are by far the best.* In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is while using Maximum Triceratops (henceforth MT) as an example.

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/illustrated. Thanks to Bakker, MT doesn't have that problem. In fact, to quote Bryner ( http://news.yahoo.com/paleo-artists-breathe-life-color-dinosaurs-114332358.html ), Bakker "transformed dinosaur paleontology and reconstruction, calling it a Dinosaur Renaissance": In MT, Chapter 1 tells a day-in-the-life story of a T.maximus & its encounter with a T.rex; What's awesome about this is 1) Rey's traditional paleoart (which is especially good at showing how active & colorful dinos were when alive), & 2) the tension & suspense ("which is allowed to slowly build to a truly upsetting climax");** This reminds me of Tippet's Prehistoric Beast, but with the roles of attacker & attacked reversed. As far as I know, the only other day-in-the-life story that's as well-written/illustrated is in an adult dino book authored by 2 experts.***

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 ( http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/movies/dvd/2011-06-30-lord-of-the-rings-dvd-extra_n.htm ). Thanks to Bakker, MT doesn't have that problem. In fact, to paraphrase Switek ( http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/04/07/paleontological-profiles-rober/ ), Bakker isn't only "a working paleontologist", but also 1 of the most "effective popularizers of science": In MT, Chapters 2-9 begin with the discovery of T.maximus & the controversy surrounding it, continue with the head anatomy, infrasound, locomotion, habitat, & social behavior of Triceratops, & end with the unsolved mysteries of T.maximus & its mammalian competitors; The middle chapters are especially good at showing how we know what we know, explaining the scientific process without dumbing down; This reminds me of the "Dinosaur Train" series, but for older kids.

*I'm including Dactyls! Dragons of the Air because, while pterosaurs aren't dinos, the story takes place in the Mesozoic Era (I.e. The Age of Dinosaurs) & there are dinos in it.

**Google "WABI SABI FOR ROBOTS: Phil Tippet's Prehistoric Beast."

***See Chapter 3 of Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 12:02:30 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2015, 06:39:57 AM »
My 16th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Johnson's Dino Wars: Discover the Deadliest Dinosaurs, Bloodiest Battles, and Super Survival Strategies of the Prehistoric World. 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 the worst dino docs in book form ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2FFY9S77ANRTK/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0810957981 ): 1/5

Short version: Johnson's Dino Wars: Discover the Deadliest Dinosaurs, Bloodiest Battles, and Super Survival Strategies of the Prehistoric World (henceforth Wars) is basically Jurassic Fight Club (henceforth JFC) in book form, but worse.

Long version: Read on.

JFC is 1 of the worst dino docs. TyrantisTerror's "Jurassic Fight Club Formula" ( http://tyrantisterror.deviantart.com/art/Jurassic-Fight-Club-Formula-136354754 ) & Albertonykus' "Paleogene Fight Club" ( http://albertonykus.deviantart.com/art/Paleogene-Fight-Club-188556839 ) sum up why. In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why I think Wars is either similarly bad or worse.

1) Like JFC's writing, Wars' is annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the Johnson quote) & repetitive (E.g. The phrase "sharp-/dagger-/jagged-toothed" is used in most of Wars' fights).

2) Like JFC's transcript, Wars' text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in the dino profiles because the misses stick out more with less text. That of the Triceratops profile is some of the worst: On pages 128-129, it's claimed that Triceratops had "heavy, pillarlike legs" (It didn't), that it "was too heavy to rear up on two legs" (It wasn't), that it coexisted with Albertosaurus (It didn't), & that a tyrannosaur's "best chance was to attack a Triceratops that was already wounded after a battle with a rival male in the breeding season" (as opposed to a young, old, sick, or disabled Triceratops); It's also worth mentioning that Johnson is bad at converting to metric (E.g. 7 inches =/= 20 cm).

3) Like JFC's reconstructions, Wars' are mostly not-so-good. Those by Kirk (which are outdated to varying degrees) are as good as it gets in Wars, while those by Dogi ( https://www.behance.net/gallery/991837/Dino-Wars ) are as bad as it gets. The latter are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions (E.g. The Deinonychus is a shameless rip-off of Rey's Eotyrannus), just plain abominable (E.g. The Gallimimus looks like a demented muppet with teeth), or some combination of both (E.g. See the front cover; There's a shameless rip-off of Kokoro's T.rex with 3-fingered, Alf-like hands & a shameless rip-off of Hallett's Triceratops with 4-fingered, roly-poly hands).

4) As silly & stupid as JFC's premise is (Quoting Jura: "Imagine all 4.6 billion years of prehistory as being one planet wide cage match somewhat akin to Primal Rage. Each week two animals...are pitted against one another"), Wars' is even worse. See "Review update #16 (It's a big 1)!" for how: http://jd-man.deviantart.com/journal/Review-update-16-It-s-a-big-1-520566226

Quoting Johnson:
Quote
One of the most ferocious killers the world has ever known, Tyrannosaurus was king of the Cretaceous. Its name means "tyrant lizard" and was richly deserved. This bloodthirsty monster terrorized virtually all other animals of the time.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 08:09:48 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #31 on: September 29, 2015, 08:51:02 PM »
My 17th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Bakker's Dino Babies! 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 popular baby dino books, part 1 ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RGGG87Q9W2PHE/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0375863303 ): 5/5

Short version: As far as I know, there aren't any popular adult books about baby dinos (book chapters, yes, but not whole books). Therefore, Bakker's Dino Babies! (henceforth DB) is 1) the best baby dino book for younger kids, & 2) 1 of the best popular baby dino books period.

Long version: Read on.

Many popular baby dino books are OK, but not great. There are 3 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) They're mixed bags in terms of paleoart (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"); 2) They're confusing messes in terms of organization; 3) They fail to cover many baby dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner (I.e. Sometimes, they simplify things to the point of being meaningless; Other times, they're just plain wrong). In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think DB succeeds where said books fail.

1) As expected for a Bakker book, DB is very well-illustrated: Rey's digital paleoart, while overall not as good as his traditional paleoart, is still some of the best paleoart around;* In fact, in some ways, it's even better; Rey's "Ancestor dreaming" on page 23 is an especially good example of how symbolic & surreal his digital paleoart can be ( https://luisvrey.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/now-and-then/ ).

2) As expected for a Bakker book, DB is very well-organized: Pages 1-23 begin with a question ("Were dinosaurs good parents?"), continue with descriptions of 1) the ways in which living animals care for their young, & 2) the ways in which dinos did so, & end with a reminder ("Modern-day birds are descendants of raptors. When you watch a mom or dad eagle feeding its babies, you are seeing a living Deinonychus!"); Said descriptions are arranged in roughly chronological order (I.e. 1st Jurassic dinos, then Cretaceous dinos).

3) As expected for a Bakker book, DB is very complete & concise: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's Dinosaurs as a guide, DB features representatives of 9 different dino groups; Compare that to the 6 different dino groups of Judge's Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World; For another (in reference to "concise"), see the Bakker quote; DB does in 2 pages what takes Judge's book 4 pages to do. Pages 21-22 are an especially good example of the former because of the brooding Deinonychus specimen (I.e. AMNH 3015, which is often not mentioned in popular dino books; Google "A possible egg of the dromaeosaur Deinonychus antirrhopus" for more info). My only gripe is the lack of early dinos.

*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "2008 (Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize) Luis V. Rey" & see for yourself.

Quoting Bakker:
Quote
Today, ostrich dads are great babysitters. They'll guard up to forty chicks at once.
Psittacosaurus...was a dinosaur babysitter. The adult was the size of a big chicken. Three dozen baby Psittacosaurus were found in Mongolia, all crowded crowded around just one adult. Maybe it was Mom. Maybe it was Dad. Either way, he or she had a tough job!
Psittacosaurus ate leaves, roots, and bugs. And lots of plants and bugs are poisonous. The babies probably watched what Mom or Dad ate. That way, they learned what to eat and what to avoid.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2018, 07:14:15 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #32 on: October 04, 2015, 04:34:01 AM »
My 18th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Burnie's The Kingfisher Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia. 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.

Not nearly as good as they say ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R18YGR52KZVM9N/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0753452871 ): 2/5

Short version: If you want the best encyclopedic dino book for casual readers, get Holtz's Dinosaurs. Despite the other Amazon Reviews, Burnie's The Kingfisher Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia (henceforth Kingfisher) was never the best or even just decent in its own right.

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 Kingfisher is that it got praised for things that other books got criticized for. There's a lot I could criticize about Kingfisher, but for the purposes of this review, I'll focus on the 3 major things that it got praised for.*

1) The other Amazon Reviewers praised Kingfisher for the seemingly-chronological order (E.g. "[Kingfisher] is arranged in a chronological order giving copious attention to dinosaur habits and habitats"). In actuality, the dino-related chapters are arranged in no particular order (See pages 71-168 for what I mean: https://www.buffalolib.org/vufind/Record/1267157/Reviews ).

2) The other Amazon Reviewers praised Kingfisher for the seemingly-up-to-date info (E.g. "I found this book to be up-to-date on a lot of information and is and outstanding guide to dinosaur life and times"). In actuality, there's an average of at least 1 factual error per page in Kingfisher, a 224 page book (See SpongeBobFossilPants' "Things I Learnt From A 2001 Encyclopedia: Redux" for all the dino-related examples: https://web.archive.org/web/20170225150600/http://spongebobfossilpants.deviantart.com/journal/Things-I-Learnt-From-A-2001-Encyclopedia-Redux-477340371 ).

3) The other Amazon Reviewers praised Kingfisher for the seemingly-accurate illustrations (E.g. "All the illustrations are accurate unlike "Dinosaurus" by Parker and Gee's "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs". Only Raul Martin's illustrations in "National Geographic Dinosaur" are of equal quality"). In actuality, those by Sibbick are outdated to varying degrees, while those by various illustrators are shameless rip-offs of more famous illustrations (E.g. All the dinos on pages 98-99 are shameless rip-offs of Sibbick's "Normanpedia" illustrations), just plain abominable (E.g. See the cover, which looks more like an "American Godzilla Puppet" than any known dino), or some combination of both (E.g. The Barosaurus on pages 80-81 is both a shameless rip-off of Sibbick's Ultrasauros on pages 82-83 & a "freaky giraffoid").**

*I'm specifically referring to the facts that 1) less than half of this so-called "Dinosaur Encyclopedia" (I.e. 98 pages out of 224) is about dinos, & 2) it's claimed that it's "undoubtedly the most authoritative...guide to the world of these amazing creatures" on the 1st inside flap despite the fact that Burnie is neither an expert nor even a collaborator with experts.

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs" & "The freaky giraffoid Barosaurus meme" for "Normanpedia" & "freaky giraffoid", respectively.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2018, 09:32:49 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2015, 04:25:22 AM »
My 19th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Sattler's Tyrannosaurus Rex and Its Kin: The Mesozoic Monsters. 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.

MUCH better than I expected ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3INFL96O3PWAS/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=068807748X ): 4/5

I originally wasn't planning on reviewing any T.rex books, mostly because T.rex is the most overexposed & overstudied dino. However, I got a request from Richard Levine on the "Jurassic Park Legacy Forums" to review Sattler's Tyrannosaurus Rex and Its Kin: The Mesozoic Monsters (henceforth Kin) & realized that I had never read it before. As it turned out, Kin was MUCH better than I expected: For 1, it's very well-illustrated (I.e. Powzyk's watercolors are easy on the eyes); For another, it's very well-organized, beginning with T.rex 65 MYA & ending with Dilophosaurus 200 MYA; For yet another, it's very complete & in-depth (I.e. Not only does it cover every carnosaur genus then known, but also everything then known about them).* It helps that Sattler is very well-read, as indicated by the bibliography.

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, to paraphrase Witton ( http://markwitton-com.blogspot.com/2014/09/hey-dreadnoughtus-not-so-close.html ), Powzyk "fills every possible square inch with [her] animals to the point of using extreme postures...particularly arching backs and curving tails...to do so". For another, it's claimed that Kin is an "authoritative account of the most powerful predators that ever lived" on the 1st inside flap despite the fact that Sattler is neither an expert nor even a collaborator with experts. Otherwise, Kin was very good for a pre-"Jurassic Park" children's dino book.** I recommend reading Kin in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs).

*All large theropods were then grouped together as carnosaurs.

**To quote Albertonykus (per. comm.), "the first Jurassic Park film is a good starting point for a popular depiction of prehistoric animals involving a decent amount of then-current science."
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 08:24:58 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2015, 07:32:42 AM »
I love reading dinosaur books!

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2015, 07:42:49 AM »
So do I!  Thank you for reviewing all of these books.  It helps very well when it comes to book shopping.nn ;)

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2015, 05:05:31 PM »
I love reading dinosaur books!

Me too!

So do I!  Thank you for reviewing all of these books.  It helps very well when it comes to book shopping.nn ;)

Anytime. Glad I could help. :)
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2015, 04:12:54 AM »
My 20th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Brusatte's Field Guide to 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 outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

The worst dino field guide ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BHCV2E970BGY/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1849160066 ): 1/5

Short version: If you want the best dino field guide for casual readers, get Holtz/Brett-Surman's Jurassic World Dinosaur Field Guide. Despite its sub-title (I.e. "The Ultimate Dinosaur Encyclopedia"), Brusatte's Field Guide to Dinosaurs (henceforth Field) was never the best or even just decent in its own right. In fact, it may be the worst expert-authored popular dino book I've ever read.

Long version: Read on.

Benton & Brusatte are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. See Brusatte's Dinosaur Paleobiology). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast. To quote Reed J. Richmond, Field "is a slimmed down version of the huge coffee table book that Brusatte did earlier (titled "Dinosaurs")". In this review, I list the 3 major differences between Brusatte's books.

1) Again, to quote Reed J. Richmond, Field "is just a chopped up version of the illustrations from" Dinosaurs. The only major difference is that Field's cover is a shameless rip-off of the Jurassic Park T.rex.

2) Like Dinosaurs' text, Field's is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. In fact, Field's is even worse: For 1, not only does it make the same mistakes as Dinosaurs', but also comes up with new ones based on pure speculation; For another, not only is the speculation nonsensical, but also contradictory to what we know. This is especially apparent in the dino profiles because the misses stick out more with less text. That of the Protoceratops profile is some of the worst: On page 130, Protoceratops is described as being "about the size of a sheep and just as meek"; Also, on page 131, it's claimed that "Protoceratops can swipe at a predator with its cheek horns, but otherwise lacks specific weapons". When I 1st read that, all I could think was "BS": For 1 (in reference to "on page 130"), some herbivores (E.g. Suids) are both sheep-sized & aggressive; For another (in reference to "also"), even if the "Fighting Dinosaurs" specimen hadn't already proven it, the armored head & sharp beak were still obvious weapons. & if that's not bad enough, Protoceratops has a "Potential Risk" rating of 1/5, while Microraptor has a 3/5 (which is like saying that a chicken is more dangerous than a wild boar).

3) Like Dinosaurs' writing, Field's is annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the 1st Brusatte quote) & repetitive (E.g. The word "terror" is used at least once in 16 out of 36 theropod profiles). In fact, Field's is even worse: For 1, it's annoyingly insulting (E.g. See the 2nd Brusatte quote); For another, it's annoyingly generic (E.g. Compare the 3rd Brusatte quote to the 4th 1).

Quoting Brusatte:
Quote
The colorful skull crest of Cryolophosaurus is a signal of doom to local plant-eating dinosaurs. For many prosauropods, this fan-like sheet above the nostrils is the last thing they will see before feeling the slicing jaws of death.

Quoting Brusatte:
Quote
An alternative way of viewing dinosaurs from our time machine is through a high-tech periscope with a lens so powerful that you can see the pores in a creature's skin, the evil glint in its eyes and the salivating jaws ever ready to snap up prey. Big bad wolves seem tame by comparison.

Quoting Brusatte:
Quote
Dromaeosaurus is the prime member of the dromaeosaurid group of theropods, commonly known as 'raptors'. Dromaeosaurus is only slightly larger than a large dog, and comes up just to hip- or chest-level on a man. However, by hunting in packs, Dromaeosaurus can subdue animals much larger than itself. Usually, a team of dromaeosaurs will stalk, surround, then leap onto the flanks of its prey.

Quoting Brusatte:
Quote
Velociraptor is the cleverest and most cunning of all the dinosaurs. Although only slightly bigger than a large dog, Velociraptor uses its keen senses and pack-hunting abilities to overcome prey ten times bigger than itself.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 08:27:24 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2016, 08:05:45 PM »
My 21st review for this thread is a positive 1 for Zoehfeld's Dinosaur Parents, Dinosaur Young: Uncovering the Mystery of Dinosaur Families. 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 popular baby dino books, part 2 ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R37BBMEAJ1NL8M/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: As far as I know, there aren't any popular adult books about baby dinos (book chapters, yes, but not whole books). Therefore, Zoehfeld's Dinosaur Parents, Dinosaur Young: Uncovering the Mystery of Dinosaur Families (henceforth Parents) is 1) the best baby dino book for older kids, & 2) 1 of the best popular baby dino books period. I recommend reading Parents in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs in general & Chapter 36 in particular).

Long version: Read on.

Many popular baby dino books are OK, but not great. There are 3 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) They're mixed bags in terms of paleoart (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"); 2) They're confusing messes in terms of organization; 3) They fail to cover many baby dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner (I.e. Sometimes, they simplify things to the point of being meaningless; Other times, they're just plain wrong). In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think Parents succeeds where said books fail.

1) Parents is very well-illustrated: Shillinglaw should illustrate more dino books; He's that good (E.g. See the very cute Hypacrosaurus on the back cover); You could say that he's the new McLoughlin with Parents basically being a more family-friendly version of Archosauria: A New Look at the Old Dinosaur (Google "Let's read _The Archosauria_!" for what I mean). My only gripe is that Shillinglaw didn't do both the black-&-white & full-color illustrations. Instead, Carrick did the full-color illustrations, & he's not that good (E.g. See the very derpy Maiasaura on the front cover).

2) Parents is very well-organized: Chapters 1-6 begin with 1) a day-in-the-life story of an Oviraptor father, & 2) the history of dino science from the 1840s to the 1970s, continue with descriptions of "how scientists are continu-ally making new discoveries and drawing new conclusions about what life was like for dinosaurs and their young", & end with the unsolved mysteries of "tyrannosaurs, stegosaurs, and the hundreds of other types of dinosaurs"; Said descriptions are arranged in roughly chronological order (I.e. 1st Maiasaura, then Hypacrosaurus, Drinker, & Troodon, & then Apatosaurus & Saltasaurus).

3) Parents is very complete & in-depth: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's Dinosaurs as a guide, Parents features representatives of 15 different dino groups; Compare that to the 6 different dino groups of Judge's Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World; For another (in reference to "in-depth"), see the Zoehfeld quote; Parents does more in 2 pages than Judge's book does in 4 pages. Chapter 4 is an especially good example of the latter because of the Orodromeus & Troodon story (I.e. "Another Mistake", which is often not told accurately in popular dino books; Google "Dino Data Adapted from Dino Data Activity" for more info).

Quoting Zoehfeld:
Quote
In 1986, in northern Montana, Dr. Horner discovered nests, eggs, embryos, and babies of another duckbill dinosaur, a crested lambeosaur called Hypacrosaurus...Dr. Horner and his crew found a large Hypacrosaurus nesting site, where a herd of a thousand or more must have returned each year to lay their eggs.
Early one nesting season, when the babies had just begun to hatch, the adults may have noticed the sky growing dark. Thick clouds of soot and ash spewed forth from volcanoes erupting just to the south of them. When hot cinders and ash began to rain down, the leaders of the herd may have used the echo chambers in their hollow nasal crests to sound a basso alarm call. They urged the mothers to abandon their nests and head north and east, away from the deadly downpour.
Today the entire nesting ground is covered by a layer of solidified volcanic sediment called bentonite, which "froze" the scene almost as it was at the time the adults abandoned it.
Not long after this discovery, Dr. Horner discovered another Hypacrosaurus rookery south of the first one. In Alberta, Canada, just north of the Montana border, Wendy Sloboda, then a high school student, discovered yet another.
Were the Hypacrosaurus helpless and nest-bound as tots, as the Maiasaura most certainly were? From the locations of the baby bones found around the rookeries, it is still not clear. But Dr. Horner thinks they must have been relatively helpless, like certain types of altricial birds, such as the American white pelican.These birds are nest-bound for only a short time, but for up to three months the youngsters stay together in the nesting colony, where the adults can bring them food and look after them.
Close study of the Hypacrosaurus babies' leg bones shows that they were made up of more calcified cartilage and less solid bone than would be expected in a precocial animal. Although there's no evidence that the little ones were completely nest-bound, they did stay within the confines of their nesting ground the way pelicans do today.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 02:50:16 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2016, 02:42:09 AM »
My 22nd review for this thread is a negative 1 for Benton's Dinosaurs: Living Monsters of the Past. 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: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7533710-dinosaurs ). Many thanks in advance.

Disappointing ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R22TDN8NHQBXK4/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

Short version: If you want the best summary of the geologic history & evolution of dinos for kids, get Bakker's The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs. Benton's Dinosaurs: Living Monsters of the Past (henceforth Past) looks good, but has no heart.

Long version: Read on.

Benton & Brusatte are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. See Brusatte's Dinosaur Paleobiology). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast. I originally thought that Past was going to be the exception, mostly because of the beautiful paleoart (which is mostly that of Sibbick & Krb). Boy, was I wrong about Past!* Not only is Past as bad as expected overall, but worse in some ways. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Past is that bad.

1) As expected, the text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. What wasn't expected was the high number & degree of misses in the text. That of Chapter 3 is some of the worst: On page 28, it's claimed that Huayangosaurus was "found in the 1970s" (More like 1982), that Kentrosaurus was "only 2.5 metres…long" (More like 5 m long), that Stegosaurus "was 6 to 7 metres…long" (More like 9 m long), & that "the snout [of Huayangosaurus] is long" (It isn't); It's also worth mentioning that, on page 29, Benton misidentifies Kentrosaurus as Dacentrurus & vice versa despite having correctly identified Kentrosaurus on page 28.

2) As expected, the writing is annoyingly repetitive (E.g. Ornithopod chewing is described over & over again) & inconsistent (E.g. Chapter 2 begins with climate, flora, & fauna; Chapter 3 begins with climate & flora; Chapter 4 begins with climate & fauna; Chapter 5 begins with none). What wasn't expected was the plain toast-dryness of the writing. That of Chapter 1 (See the Benton quote) is some of the worst: On page 4, Benton takes 2 major theories of geology & biology (I.e. Radioactive decay & evolution, respectively) & makes them boring & meaningless (I.e. He defines them as "change, over time" & "change through time", respectively); That's when I realized that I was wrong about Past.

To sum up, Bakker put it best when he said, "We dino-scientists have a great responsibility: our subject matter attracts kids better than any other, except rocket-science" ( http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/2008/04/07/paleontological-profiles-rober/ ). Past doesn't fulfill said responsibility.

*If you get the reference, give yourself a pat on the back.

Quoting Benton:
Quote
Dinosaurs lived on Earth long ago, during the Mesozoic Era, which is often known as the 'Age of the Dinosaurs'.The dinosaurs lived for 160 million years, eventually dying out 65 million years ago, long before the origin of humans 5 million years ago.
These vast amounts of time, measured in millions of years, have been based upon studies of rocks by geologists. Long ago, geologists realised that the Earth was very ancient, and that vast thicknesses of rocks have been deposited, with the oldest layers generally at the bottom of the pile. Exact ages of the rocks are found out by studies of rocks that have natural radioactivity. Radioactive elements are not stable, and they decay, or change, over time into other elements. The rates of decay are known, and it is possible to estimate the exact age of a rock sample by comparing the amount of a radioactive element left and the amount of the end product.
Fossils are also used in dating, and they can give quick and accurate age estimates, but not in millions of years. Fossils are the remains of once-living plants and animals which have been preserved in the rock. There is a very rich fossil record in the rocks, thousands of species having been preserved through the past 3,500 million years. The fossils give evidence for change through time, or evolution. Different groups come and go at specific times, and rocks of any particular age may contain specific fossils that are never found in rocks of any other age.
Fossil evidence, and exact age dating, form the basis of the geological time scale, an international standard. Time is divided into Eons, Eras, and Periods, and these may be further divided up into smaller units. This is a useful reference for geologists in all countries, and it is the time scale that is used to calibrate the evolution of life. The dinosaurs arose in the Late Triassic Period, ruled the Earth during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and died out at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary.
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