Author Topic: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!  (Read 11100 times)

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2016, 06:24:43 PM »
My 23rd review for this thread is a positive 1 for Schlein's The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx. 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.

This book should have more reviews ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R3J8882CLGWDY1/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 4/5

Whenever I read Schlein's The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx (henceforth Puzzle), I wonder why it doesn't have more reviews? I wonder because Puzzle is 1 of the best pre-Sinosauropteryx dino-bird books for older kids.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Puzzle is very authoritative: Not only is it consulted by Dr. John Ostrom, but also contributed to by Gregory Paul & Nicholas Hotton III; To quote Taylor ( http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/faq/s-lit/books/ ), "those are big guns firing."

2) Puzzle is very complete & concise: Not only does it cover the history of "the dinosaur-bird connection" from the 1860s to the 1970s, the Protoavis controversy, the Chinese feathered dinos (I.e. Sinornis & Confusiusornis), & every Archaeopteryx specimen then known, but it does so in 40 pages; Most dino books for older kids are at least 48 pages.

3) Puzzle is very well-illustrated: The beautiful paleoart of Hallett is worth the price alone; The diagrams & reconstructions in particular are both very nostalgic & very prescient.**

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there's too much Linnaean taxonomy (I.e. See the Holtz quote; Puzzle beats the dead horse that is "that debate"). For another, there's not enough cladistics (I.e. There are no cladograms in Puzzle; This is despite the fact that clades "are central to a modern understanding of how we living things relate to each other": https://plus.google.com/+Grandmotherfish/posts/9vgV2CqjerP ). Even still, I recommend reading Puzzle in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs in general & Chapter 21 in particular).

*By "dino-bird books", I mean books about "the dinosaur-bird connection".

**Nostalgic because they're Zoobooks magazine-esque. Prescient because all the non-tyrannosaurid coelurosaurs are thickly plumaged.

Quoting Holtz (See GSPaul's The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs):
Quote
In the 1970s through the mid-1980s, there was some debate among paleontologists over whether dinosaurs should be considered reptiles. That debate did not concern a difference of opinion as to the position of dinosaurs in the family tree of vertebrates. It instead centered on the debate over dinosaurs' physiology: Were dinosaurs cold-blooded, like "reptiles" (as the term was used then) or were they warm-blooded, like their descendants the birds? To most paleontologists today, dinosaurs are considered a type of reptile, and birds are considered a type of reptile. This shift has occurred because of the way biologists use their formal taxonomic names...Once scientists accepted that monophyletic groups would be the only type used in taxonomy, the debate whether dinosaurs were reptiles was over. The name Reptilia now applies to a particular branch of the family tree of the vertebrates, not to some general "grade" of development (that is, cold-blooded terrestrial vertebrates with a shelled egg). Since dinosaurs are part of that branch, whether they were cold-blooded or warmblooded is not a consideration in their classification: they are reptiles.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 03:47:09 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #41 on: April 04, 2016, 10:09:14 PM »
My 24th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Schwabacher's The Magic School Bus Flies with the 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.

1 of the worst edutainment adaptations ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1SNCFJECE6XS1/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

As you may remember, I said that The Magic School Bus show isn't the worst edutainment adaptation ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1A9PA105I2590/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B007I1Q4RM ). That's because The Magic School Bus Scholastic Reader Level 2 books based on the show are even worse. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Schwabacher's The Magic School Bus Flies with the Dinosaurs (henceforth Magic) in particular is that bad.

1) Magic's text & writing are lacking in both quantity & quality. This is especially apparent in the reports: For 1 (in reference to quantity), there's only 1 report for every 5 pages of Magic; Compare that to the 1 report for every 2 pages of Cole's The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs; For another (in reference to quality), compare the Schwabacher quote to the Cole quote; The former is simplified to the point of being meaningless at best & misleading or wrong at worst.

2) Magic's reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the T.rex & the Sinornithosaurus: Not only is the former based on Osborn's T.rex from 1916 ( http://dino.lindahall.org/osb1916b.shtml ), but its face looks like Jeff the Killer's face;* Not only is the latter a shameless rip-off, but it's a shameless rip-off of Groves' abominable model of Sinornithosaurus (See the cover of Sloan's How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries Yet Unsolved).

To sum up, I recommend reading Cole's The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs). All the non-Cole Magic School Bus books (especially those about dinos) should be avoided.

*If you google "Jeff the Killer", don't do it at night.

Quoting Schwabacher:
Quote
THE STORY OF FOSSILS by Arnold
After millions of years, the ashes turned to rock. The dinosaur bones turned to rock, too. Now they are called fossils. People find the fossils and learn about dinosaurs.

Quoting Cole:
Quote
HOW A DEAD DINOSAUR COULD BECOME A FOSSIL by Carmen
1. The dead body sank in a river, and rotted away.
2. The bones were covered with sand.
3. In time, the sand turned into rocks.
4. The bones became hard as rock, too.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2019, 12:29:01 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2016, 04:42:39 AM »
My 25th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Sereno's How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus? 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.

Interesting ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R2IQJJ88JEJCNK/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: Sereno's How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus? (henceforth Tough) is MUCH better than a children's dino Q&A book has any right to be. I recommend reading Tough in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs in general & Chapter 17 in particular).

Long version: Read on.

To quote the Nostalgia Critic ( http://thatguywiththeglasses.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_(Dreamworks-uary) ), "By all outward appearances, I should hate How to Train Your Dragon. This has so many things I can't stand in a movie...But for some reason, here, it really, really works. There's just something about the way this story is told and presented and paced that just really, really gets it." The same goes for Tough. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) 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). What's interesting about Tough is that the questions are precise, the answers are concise, & the Q&As are good.

2) I generally dislike children's dino Q&A books for being poorly-illustrated, among other things. You'd think the same would go for Tough given Courtney's previous work ( https://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2013/01/vintage-dinosaur-art-dinosaurs-giants.html ). What's interesting about Tough is that "the illustrations...show a marked improvement over those...from just [1 year] prior. They demonstrate a stage in the evolution from [Courtney's] earlier stodge-o-saurs to the altogether more active, muscular and modern-looking restorations of the '90s" ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-dinosaur-art-creatures-of-long.html ).* My only gripes are the slightly cartoonish anatomies (E.g. See the T.rex on the front cover, which has a squared-off jaw) & the anachronistic assemblages of animals (E.g. On pages 8-9, there's T.rex, Corythosaurus, Astrodon, Ankylosaurus, Protoceratops, & Oviraptor).

3) I generally dislike children's dino Q&A books for being poorly-organized, among other things. It doesn't help that their titles are often based on random Q&As (E.g. The title of my next review's book). What's interesting about Tough is that its title isn't just a random Q&A, but the overarching theme. You'd think I'd have a major problem with that given that T.rex is the most overexposed & overstudied dino. What's doubly interesting about Tough is that it uses T.rex as a vehicle to address a broader range of topics (E.g. See the Sereno quotes, which are from the 1st & last pages of Tough).

*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus? by Mrs Smart on Prezi" & see for yourself.

Quoting Sereno:
Quote
Did all the dinosaurs live at the same time?
Dinosaurs lived on earth for many millions of years, but no one kind of dinosaur existed for the entire time. Fierce Tyrannosaurus…for example, appeared only near the very end of the dinosaur age. Many other dinosaurs had already appeared and become extinct…died out.

Quoting Sereno:
Quote
Are any animals alive today related to the dinosaurs?
Yes. The ancestry of birds can be traced back to small flesh-eating relatives of Tyrannosaurus. In the long view of time, birds are really feathered dinosaurs!
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 08:54:38 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #43 on: June 11, 2016, 04:43:09 AM »
My 26th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Theodorou's I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns: and Other Questions about 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.

Like playing Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RGU1QQZ5DR8A5/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

Short version: The combination of unanswered questions, wrongly-answered questions, & everything in between makes reading Theodorou's I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns: and Other Questions about Dinosaurs (henceforth Wonder) like playing "Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril" ( ). If you want to know "Why Triceratops Had Horns", google "Old wounds show that Triceratops used its horns for combat".

Long version: Read on.

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). However, when I originally said that, I was specifically referring to adult dino Q&A books. Children's dino Q&A books in general & Wonder in particular are even worse:
-Redundant questions? Uncheck (There are only 30 questions), but Wonder more than makes up for this in the following ways.
-Vague answers? Check times infinity! The 1st Theodorou quote is the worst because 1) the main text completely dodges 1 of the biggest questions in science, & 2) the sidebar text only mentions invalid hypotheses (I.e. Poisonous plants & periodic comet showers).
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity! The 2nd Theodorou quote is the worst because it fails on many levels: It contradicts itself from a previous Q&A (See the 1st Theodorou quote; If "all the dinosaurs vanished", then there wouldn't be "any dinosaurs around today"); It fails to understand how evolution works (If birds "developed from dinosaurs", then they ARE "true dinosaurs"); It avoids using the word "evolution" (as does the rest of Wonder); It fails to understand that "developed" =/= "evolved" ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/04/2/l_042_02.html ).

But wait, there's more!:
-Wonder is a confusing mess in terms of organization. This is especially apparent in the Q&As about reconstructing & finding dino fossils: For 1, you have to find dino fossils BEFORE you can reconstruct them; For another, the text explaining said processes is scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason.
-Wonder's more realistic reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the Apatosaurus reconstructions: For 1, they're shameless rip-offs of the "Safari Ltd Carnegie Scale Model Apatosaurus", Sibbick's "Normanpedia" Apatosaurus, & Hallett's Zoobooks - Dinosaurs Apatosaurus; For another, they combine "a Sibbickian concentric ring skin pattern with a finely polished finish reminiscent of a 4x4 vehicle purchased by a money-crazed, wantonly aggressive businessperson" ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2015/08/vintage-dinosaur-art-dinosaurs-1987.html ).
-Wonder's more cartoony reconstructions are even worse: For 1, not only are most of them unrecognizable as the genera they're intended to represent, but the others are only recognizable because they're shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions; For another, not only are all of them unfunny, but some of them are also very disturbing (E.g. Why are a bat & a pterosaur giving each other "do me" eyes?; Why was that woman drilling into a living Ankylosaurus?; etc).

Quoting Theodorou:
Quote
What happened to the dinosaurs?
Something very strange happened 65 million years ago. All the dinosaurs vanished, together with all the flying reptiles and most of the sea reptiles. No one knows for sure what happened to them.

Quoting Theodorou:
Quote
Are there any dinosaurs around today?
Although there aren't any true dinosaurs alive today, we do have some of their relatives. Scientists think that birds developed from dinosaurs, because their skeletons are so similar. So look carefully the next time you see a bird nesting in a tree or hopping across the grass!
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 03:13:23 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #44 on: August 01, 2016, 05:11:36 PM »
My 27th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Waldrop/Loomis' Ranger Rick's Dinosaur 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 for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

I wish I had this book as a kid ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: Waldrop/Loomis' Ranger Rick's Dinosaur Book (henceforth Ranger) is like Wexo's Zoobooks - Dinosaurs (henceforth ZD), but better. I recommend reading Ranger in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs).

Long version: Read on.

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up with 1) Ranger Rick magazine, & 2) Zoobooks magazine.* ZD used to be my favorite issue of either magazine, but now my favorite is Ranger. Like ZD, Ranger is a natural history of dinos illustrated by Hallett, published by a wildlife organization, & consulted by Ostrom. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think Ranger is even better than ZD.

1) Ranger is very complete & in-depth: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's "Dinosaurs" as a guide, Ranger features representatives of 10 different dino groups; Compare that to the 7 different dino groups of ZD; For another (in reference to "in-depth"), see the Waldrop/Loomis quote; Ranger does more in 1 page than ZD does in 2 pages ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/babbletrish/5747604673 ).

2) Ranger is very well-organized: 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 ); Not only does Ranger have a chronological format, but each chapter begins with a day-in-the-life story & ends with a lead-in to the next chapter.

3) Ranger is very well-illustrated: In addition to Hallett, Ranger is illustrated by Akerbergs, Dawson (E.g. See the cover), Kish, Knight, & Zallinger; Dawson's paleoart is especially good at making reconstructed animals appear life-like (I.e. It "displays a superb attention to small details - in terms of the animals' anatomy...their interaction with the surrounding environment, and the environment itself");** It helps that Dawson illustrated all the day-in-the-life stories. My only gripes are that 1) some of the herbivorous dinos (especially the sauropods) are depicted as dragging their tails, & 2) some of non-dinos (especially the pterosaurs) are depicted as being derpy.

*My sympathies to those who didn't grow up with "Classic Ranger Rick" ( http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2009/11/time-has-not-been-kind-to-ranger-rick.html ).

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: De Oerwereld van de Dinosauriërs - Part 1".

Quoting Waldrop/Loomis:
Quote
Workers in a German quarry in 1861 uncovered a puzzle that has not been solved after more than 120 years. The puzzle was a new fossil that had a wishbone like a bird's and wings with feathers. It was a bird, the earliest ever found. It was named Archaeopteryx...the "ancient wing."
One of the puzzling things about this bird was its ancestors. To try to solve this puzzle, scientists checked its head, its tail, its hands, its feet. Finally, one man studied the fossil for two years and listed 21 ways that its bones matched those of the small, meat-eating dinosaurs called coelurosaurs (see pages 44-45).
Archaeopteryx was a very primitive bird. It has been called a missing link in the evolutionary chain between the dinosaurs and modern birds. In some ways it was like a dinosaur. In other ways it was like a bird. It had teeth and a bony tail like a dinosaur. Birds today don't have teeth, and their tails are just long feathers. But, like birds, Archaeopteryx had wings and feathers.
Scientists still don't know for sure why this ancient bird had feathers or whether or not it could fly. Feathers help birds in many ways. Of course, they help birds fly. They also insulate them and help them stay warm. Perhaps feathers began as insulators. Small, warmblooded dinosaurs would have lost heat very quickly. Feathers would have helped keep their bodies at a constant temperature.
The feathers might have served other uses. Some people think that Archaeopteryx ran along the ground, chasing insects and other small prey. When it got close enough, it used its wide, feathered wings to scoop up its meal.
Archaeopteryx probably could not fly, at least the way most birds do today. It did not have the right bones for holding the muscles needed to flap its wings.
But Archaeopteryx might have been able to glide. That's what flying squirrels do. Some scientists think the bird climbed branches in search of prey, then spread its wings and floated gently back to the ground. Other scientists think it lived only on the ground.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 03:26:23 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #45 on: August 04, 2016, 04:52:07 AM »
Great reviews!  However, I could not vote "Yes" on Amazon, since I'm not a customer.  I'll just enjoy your reviews here.  Thanks for sharing!  :)
Keep The Magic Alive and Kicking! :-)

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #46 on: August 04, 2016, 05:38:16 AM »
Great reviews!  However, I could not vote "Yes" on Amazon, since I'm not a customer.  I'll just enjoy your reviews here.  Thanks for sharing!  :)

No worries, I understand. It's still good to know that ppl are reading (&, hopefully, spreading the word about) my reviews. :)
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #47 on: August 08, 2016, 06:22:29 PM »
My 28th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Wexo's Where Did Dinosaurs Come From? 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.

OK in the 1980s, but not in the 2000s ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RAVE9K9147YWQ/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

As you may remember, I grew up with Zoobooks magazine ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ). Wexo's Zoobooks - Dinosaurs is my favorite issue of said magazine, so I was very excited to get Wexo's Where Did Dinosaurs Come From? (henceforth DD). I originally thought that DD was going to be the sequel issue I've always wanted. Boy, was I wrong about DD! DD would've been OK in the 1980s, but not in the 2000s. Switek's DD review ( http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/where-did-dinosaurs-come-from-49918128/?no-ist ) sums up most of the reasons why, but not the most important reason. In this review, I point you to Switek's DD review & add my own thoughts as well:
-The most important reason is that DD was billed as new when it actually was 20 years old: 1st, see the back cover; Then, compare that to "t-rex, prehistoric #zoobooks, #1989. #science!" ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5914388328 ). This explains most of the inaccuracies. However, there are several weird bits throughout DD that can't be explained by its outdatedness (E.g. See the Wexo quote).
-I'm surprised that Switek didn't say more about the paleoart given that, to quote Switek ( http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/10/a-dinosaur-reading-list-for-everyone/ ), "Everyone knows that half the fun of paleontology is imagining how prehistoric creatures looked and moved." In addition to Sibbick, DD is illustrated by Orr, Francis, & Newman. However, Sibbick's paleoart is the most noteworthy: For 1, to paraphrase Vincent ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-dinosaur-art-creatures-of-long.html ), "The illustrations in [DD] show a marked improvement over those in the Norman encyclopedia from just [4] years prior. They demonstrate a stage in the evolution from Sibbick's earlier stodge-o-saurs to the altogether more active, muscular and modern-looking restorations of the '90s"; For another, it's very jarring to see Sibbick's T.rex in the style of Hallett's.
-In some ways, DD is better than the original (E.g. The main stuff is more well-organized, beginning with "some of the earliest creatures on earth" & ending with the Age of Dinosaurs). In other ways, DD is worse than the original (E.g. The sidebar stuff is more hit-&-miss).* In still other ways, they're about the same (E.g. Both refer to T.rex by different genus names).
-If you want a good alternative to DD, get Bakker's The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs: For 1, not only does Bakker's book cover much of the same background info, but also goes well beyond;** For another, Bakker's book doesn't shy away from discussing evolution, using "the dreaded e-word" multiple times.

*While the hits really hit (E.g. A comparison of sauropods' teeth & garden tools), the misses really miss (E.g. A race between a man & various theropods in which the man is winning & the theropods are scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason).

**To quote Switek, "The trouble is that by the time Wexo gets to the dinosaurs, relatively little time is spent on explaining how different groups of dinosaurs evolved or even when different kinds of dinosaurs lived…The book then abruptly ends with no concluding section tying the lessons of the book together. Likewise, the fact that the book never discusses feathered dinosaurs or that birds are living theropod dinosaurs is a major flaw." Bakker's book does the exact opposite of all that & MUCH more.

Quoting Wexo:
Quote
For a long time, the simple plants fed themselves on chemicals that were dissolved in the water. Later, they started to make food from sunlight and chemicals, as plants do today. But they did not eat each other…Then one day, for reasons that are not clear, one plant did eat another plant…and thereby became the first animal. Eating other plants was a good way to get food. For this reason, more and more new species of "animals" came along as time passed. Some new species of animals had the first mouths, to eat plants more easily.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 10:48:18 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #48 on: November 07, 2016, 06:35:35 PM »
My 29th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Abramson et al.'s Inside 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.

This book would make a great exhibit ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1G5HZTPACE9QG/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=140277074X&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ): 5/5

Short version: The best exhibits are attractive, brief, & clear (I.e. The ABCs of exhibit design). Abramson et al.'s Inside Dinosaurs (henceforth ID) takes the AMNH's best dino exhibits & combines them into the AMNH's best children's dino book.

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 ID is that it got a lot of praise for being very well-illustrated, but little-to-no praise for being very well-organized & thematic. Put another way, to quote Ham (See Environmental Interpretation: A Practical Guide for People with Big Ideas and Small Budgets), the other Amazon Reviewers "worried more about the "A" than they did about the "B" and "C."" In this review, I focus on the "B" & "C" & why I think they make ID great.

1) Like a great exhibit, ID is very brief/well-organized: To quote Ham, "Brief exhibits are well organized and simple; they contain five or fewer main ideas and only enough text to develop the theme; rather than having a lot of words, they show details visually; they don't appear like they require a lot of work from the viewer". That's exactly what ID does: Not only does ID contain 5 main ideas as outlined on the 1st inside flap, but also 10 fold-out pages; Not only do said pages "allow kids to dig deeper into the topics and enjoy amazing illustrations", but also make ID interactive (Quoting Ham: "Besides being more enjoyable, interactive exhibits are better "teachers" than static ones"); This reminds me of the new DK Eyewitness books, but more engaging.

2) Like a great exhibit, ID is very clear/thematic: To quote Ham, "Clear exhibits contain a theme that is so conspicuous it can be recognized and understood in only a second or two." That's exactly what ID does: As outlined on the 1st inside flap, "This amazing book will give you the inside scoop on [dinos]...As a daring insider, you'll walk in the steps of these astonishing creatures"; The opening pages reinforce the "inside scoop" part of the theme (See the 1st Abramson et al. quote), while the closing pages reinforce the "daring insider" part of the theme (See the 2nd Abramson et al. quote); This reminds me of the Dinosaur Train series (Quoting Sampson: "Get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries!"), but for older kids.

If I could, I'd give ID an extra half star for being extra authoritative. My only gripes are the non-maniraptoran reconstructions (some of which have shrink-wrapped heads &/or too many claws) & the lack of pronunciations (especially of Chinese names). 2 more things of note: 1) There are direct & indirect references to the AMNH's "Hall of Dinosaurs", "Fighting Dinos", & "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries"; 2) The AMNH keeps updates on "American Museum of Natural History" when parts of ID become outdated.

Quoting Abramson et al.:
Quote
Let's learn to look through a paleontologist's eyes and take a trip back to the time when fierce Albertosaurus stalked prey in the forests, spike-frilled Styracosaurus grazed in the ferns, groups of Corythosaurus hung out, and early birds darted through the sky. Join us as we explore the world of the dinosaur to get an inside look at the lives of these amazing creatures from long ago.

Quoting Abramson et al.:
Quote
The discovery of new dinosaur fossils can happen almost anywhere and at any time. Amateur dinosaur hunters have discovered many fossils and even whole new species. The bones of the dinosaur Bambiraptor were found by a fourteen-year-old boy on his family's ranch in Montana. So if you have exposed sedimentary rock in your backyard, don't be afraid to get out there and try to make your very own dinosaur discovery. Don't have any sedimentary rock nearby? Look at the trees…the birds you see are your very own dinosaur discoveries.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 06:03:18 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #49 on: November 14, 2016, 05:37:31 PM »
My 30th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Long's Dinosaurs (Insiders). 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 alternative ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1Y51RJP1YORCC/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1416938575&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ): 1/5

For as long as there has been Dinosaur (DK Eyewitness Books) (henceforth DD), there have been wannabes. As much as I love DD, I understand why readers would want an alternative: For 1, see the Ben quote; What Ben says about "the AMNH fossil halls" goes for DD; For another, DD is a mixed bag in terms of paleoart.* However, as far as I know, Abramson et al.'s Inside Dinosaurs is the only good alternative. Long's Dinosaurs (Insiders) (henceforth DI) is the worst of all the other alternatives. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is, besides the text.**

1) Unlike DD, DI is an annoying & confusing mess in terms of writing & organization. In reference to "annoying...writing", this is especially apparent in the sub-chapter about the dino extinction because 1) the main text explains nothing about the science behind the dino extinction story, & 2) the sidebar text needlessly re-tells said story. In reference to "confusing...organization", this is especially apparent in the sub-chapters about studying & finding/reconstructing dino fossils because 1) you have to find dino fossils BEFORE you can study/reconstruct them, & 2) the text explaining said processes is scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason.

2) Unlike DD's life reconstructions, DI's are mostly not-so-good. Those by Carr are as good as it gets in DI, while those by Pixel-shack are as bad as it gets: In reference to Carr, that's not saying much; Some of her life reconstructions are OK (E.g. See the small T.rex on the front cover), while others are just plain outdated/abominable (E.g. See the feathered dinos on the back cover; Some have pronated hands or splayed legs; Others look like demented muppets or feathered lizards); In reference to Pixel-shack, I've already said everything I have to say about them in my Dinosaurs review (See reason #4: https://www.amazon.com/review/R3J1R5BYAZABGZ/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1847244173 ); In DI, the ankylosaurs are depicted as being piles of poop, while the tyrannosaurs are shameless rip-offs of the Jurassic Park T.rex. Those by the other illustrators fall somewhere in between, but more towards Pixel-shack (E.g. See Eriksson's large T.rex on the front cover, which is a poorly-photoshopped lace monitor). McKinnon's paleoart may be the 2nd worst in DI (E.g. Not only is the Struthiomimus un-feathered with pronated hands, but also duck-billed with cheeks).

*I'm specifically referring to DD's life reconstructions, many of which are not-so-good (E.g. Those by various illustrators & Pixel-shack in the older & newer editions, respectively).

**Even if you only read the "Fast facts" & the "Time bar", you'll see that there's an average of at least 3 or 4 factual errors per page in DI, a 64 page book.

Quoting Ben ( https://extinctmonsters.net/2015/02/26/framing-fossil-exhibits-phylogeny/ ):
Quote
Within the actual fossil halls, interpretation remains stubbornly unapproachable. For example, the sign introducing proboscidians tells visitors that this group is defined primarily by eye sockets located near the snout. An observant visitor might wonder why scientists rely on such an obscure detail, as opposed to the obvious trunks and tusks. There’s a good teaching moment there concerning why some characteristics might face more selection pressure (and thus change more radically) than others, but instead visitors are only offered esoteric statements. Relatedly, the exhibit does little to prioritize information. Most label text is quite small, and there’s a lot of it. Compare this to Evolving Planet at the Field Museum, where there is a clear hierarchy of headings and sub-headings. Visitors can read the main point of a display without even stopping, and parents can quickly find relevant information to answer their charges’ questions (rather than making something up).
Evolving Planet also compares favorably to the AMNH fossil halls in its informative aesthetics and spatial logic. At FMNH, walls and signs in each section are distinctly color-coded, making transitions obvious and intuitive. Likewise, consistent iconography...such as the mass extinction zones...helps visitors match recurring themes and topics throughout the exhibit. AMNH, in contrast, has a uniform glass and white-walled Apple Store aesthetic. It’s visually appealing, but doesn’t do much to help visitors navigate the space in a meaningful way.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2019, 11:39:04 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #50 on: January 09, 2017, 09:11:59 PM »
My 31st review for this thread is a positive 1 for Hedley's Dinosaurs and Their Living Relatives. 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.

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

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

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

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

3) The 3rd part is illustrated with Graham High's dino models & they're very life-like. This is especially apparent in the cover ( https://ia600700.us.archive.org/zipview.php?zip=/31/items/olcovers702/olcovers702-L.zip&file=7024262-L.jpg ): Remember when Lex shines the light into the T.rex's eye in Jurassic Park?; To quote Faraci ( http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2011/05/05/best-movies-ever-jurassic-park-1993 ), "the way the beast’s pupil dilates is amazing and scary at once. This seems to be a real thing!, you think, in awe. And it’s right there, inches away!, you think, afraid for the kids"; The same goes for the cover. It's also worth mentioning that the Preface & Chapter 1 are illustrated with Peter Snowball's dino paintings & they're very easy on the eyes. 1 of my only gripes is that some of the herbivorous dinos (especially the sauropods) are depicted as dragging their tails.*

*My other gripe is the lack of evolution (I.e. Living uses the word "evolution" multiple times, but doesn't define it).

Quoting Hedley:
Quote
This book takes a completely new approach to the study of dinosaurs. It sets out to discover how dinosaurs are related to other animals...both living and extinct. It begins by explaining a simple method for working out the relationships between animals. Then, using many photographs and diagrams, it applies this method to the dinosaurs. The book ends with a unique series of new full-colour illustrations of many of the Natural History Museum's most famous dinosaurs...as they may have appeared when they were alive.

Quoting Padian ( https://ncse.com/library-resource/dinosaurs-birds-update ):
Quote
In a short paper in Nature, John Ostrom (1973) first laid out a case for the descent of birds from theropod dinosaurs. At the time, other ideas had recently been proposed, linking birds to crocodiles or to a more vaguely defined group of archosaurs (the group that includes birds, dinosaurs, crocodiles, pterosaurs, and many extinct relatives). Although all three hypotheses had early proponents, only the dinosaur-bird hypothesis survived the decade, mainly because (1) the evidence was convincing, (2) the hypothesis survived repeated tests using cladistic analysis, and (3) the alternatives were too vaguely phrased, there was no convincing evidence for them, and they failed repeated cladistic testing. The public tends to think that there is a substantial controversy among scientists about the ancestry of birds, partly because the public does not understand cladistics and partly because cladistics is rejected as a method by the opponents of the dinosaur-bird hypothesis.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 08:59:47 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #51 on: January 15, 2017, 08:51:05 PM »
My 32nd review for this thread is a negative 1 for Markle's Outside And Inside 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.

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

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

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

2) Even if you ignore the fringe pandering, Outside still fails in the following ways (which apply to the Outside And Inside series in general):
-The photos are grainy to varying degrees. Surprise surprise, the grainiest photos are of feathered dino fossils & taken by Terry Jones, who (as indicated by the Naish quote) is known for using grainy-as-heck photos.
-The writing is too simple & condescending (E.g. To quote Bakker from a good children's dino book, "When you look at dinosaur bone under a microscope, you see it's full of tiny holes for little blood vessels. That means that the blood flow was high and the body generated a lot of heat"; Compare that to the 1st 2 paragraphs of the Markle quote).
-The text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight: On average, there's 1 or 2 factual errors per page in Outside, a 40 page book; Those in the Markle quote are especially cringe-worthy (E.g. "Feathery scales" & "Feathered scales"; See "Feather evolution" for why they're so cringe-worthy: http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/feather_evolution.htm ).

Quoting Markle:
Quote
A special tool, called a microscope, was used to enlarge this slice of a Troodon's leg bone. It offers a clue to solving a mystery: Did dinosaurs produce their own body heat or did they just soak up heat from the world around them?
See the rings in the bone? Some dinosaur experts believe these rings could mean the dinosaur soaked up heat. All animals need heat energy to be active and grow, so the dinosaur may have grown more when it was warmer. However not all dinosaur bones have rings. Some dinosaur bones are full of holes, like the bones of animals that make their own body heat. When the dinosaur was alive, the holes were filled with tubes that carried blood. The blood quickly spread heat energy throughout the animal's body.
But the question still remains: Did dinosaurs produce their own heat? More clues are needed to solve this mystery.
Here's another clue. It's an imprint of a Hadrosaurus' skin. The little bumps are like those on an alligator. This sort of scaly skin is a good, tough covering for a body that soaks up heat by lying on the ground. So did all dinosaurs have scaly skin?
Dinosaur imprints, like this one of a Sinosauropteryx, make some researchers believe there were dinosaurs with feathery scales. If these were like down feathers they would have been good for holding in body heat. Feathered scales could be proof that at least some dinosaurs produced their own heat.
Other researchers don't think such imprints show skin at all. Some believe the imprints show frilly fins like those seen on the backs of some of today's lizards. Others believe the imprints show a kind of tissue that lies just underneath the skin, connecting the skin to the muscles and bones.

Quoting GSPaul ( http://dml.cmnh.org/1997Jan/msg00318.html ):
Quote
I also agree with AF that although cladistics is very important, it is also not phylogenetic nirvana. What AF does not know is how overwhelming is the skull, skeletal, eggshell and nesting behaviour evidence that advanced theropods are the ancestors of birds. Feduccia and other paleoornithologists sometimes say that we dinoologists do not understand bird anatomy well enough. Actually, we know birds quite well because they are the living dinosaurs we look at all the time. The real problem is that some paleoornithologists do not understand the anatomy of nonavian archosaurs well enough.

Quoting Naish ( http://web.archive.org/web/20171216234814/http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2009/07/17/birds-cannot-be-dinosaurs/ ):
Quote
— the innards of Sinosauropteryx and Scipionyx supposedly falsify avian-like air-sac systems in non-avian coelurosaurs and demonstrate a croc-like hepatic piston diaphragm (Ruben et al. 1997, 1999), even though a gigantic dose of personal interpretation is required to accept that this claim might be correct, even though crocodilians and dinosaurs are fundamentally different in pelvic anatomy, and even though some living birds have the key soft-tissue traits reported by Ruben et al. in Sinosauropteryx and Scipionyx yet still have an avian respiratory system [alleged diaphragm of Sinosauropteryx highlighted in adjacent image; unconvincing on all levels]
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 09:15:31 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #52 on: April 03, 2017, 03:28:19 AM »
My 33rd review for this thread is a positive 1 for Martin's Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils. 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 a kind ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R385LV9OEXYSG8/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: If you want the only popular adult book about dino traces, get Martin's Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace Fossils (henceforth Bones). If you want the best adult day-in-the-life dino book, get Bones. If you want the most 1 of a kind adult dino book, get Bones.

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 Bones is that it got a lot of praise for covering so much ground on dino traces, but little-to-no praise for how it covers said ground (which is what really makes it 1 of a kind). Not only is Bones the only popular adult book about dino traces, but also the best adult day-in-the-life dino book. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is.

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. Thanks to Martin, Bones doesn't have that problem. In fact, Bones is basically a dino-centric version of Aardema's Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale written in the style of Bakker's Raptor Red, but better: For 1, Chapter 1 tells a day-in-the-life story of a "big male Triceratops" & how its "aggressive movement...triggered overt and subtle changes in the behaviors of nearly every dinosaur nearby"; This is like Aardema's book ( ), but better because it's more realistic; For another, Chapter 1 "serves as a vehicle for [Martin] to give science lessons in a user-friendly format" ( http://prehistoricpulp.blogspot.com/2007/07/raptor-red-by-robert-t-bakker-1995.html ); This is like Bakker's book, but better because "most [of the dinos in Chapter 1] are from near the end of the Cretaceous Period (about 70 million years ago) and in an area defined approximately by Montana and Alberta, Canada."* This is especially apparent in the Martin quote.

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 Martin, Bones doesn't have that problem. In fact, Bones is the closest thing we have to an adult day-in-the-life dino book done right, LOTR style: Not only do Chapters 2-11 cover all of the dino traces in Chapter 1, but also all related dino traces (E.g. See the Martin quote; Not only does Chapter 8 cover dino "scat", but also dino stomach & intestinal contents, vomit, & urine); It helps that, like LOTR DVD extras, Chapters 2-11 are very well-organized, beginning with Triceratops tracks (in reference to the big male's "aggressive movement") in Chapter 2 & ending with sauropod trails (which made "the sunlit valley" itself possible) in Chapter 11.

If I could, I'd give Bones a 4.5/5. My only problem is the lack of paleoart (There's a series of color plates; That's about it): On the 1 hand, Bones is a "TRANSITION TO THE TECHNICAL" & thus doesn't have "lots of different dinosaurs fully restored" ( https://www.deviantart.com/jd-man/journal/SD-Holtz-s-A-Dinosaur-Lover-s-Bookshelf-374321353 ); On the other hand, similar books do have "high quality pictures and graphs that break up the text" ( https://paleoaerie.org/2014/06/02/best-introduction-to-evolution-textbook/ ); At the very least, Chapter 1 should've been illustrated for obvious reasons. However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5.

*To quote Holtz ( http://dml.cmnh.org/1995Sep/msg00258.html ), "The fauna Bakker portrays is a very artificial one, combining genera from two different parts of the Early Cretaceous."

Quoting Martin:
Quote
In between the two Triceratops, a group of small feathered theropod dinosaurs with stubby forearms—similar to the Asian alvarezsaur Mononykus—and a nearby bunch of slightly larger ornithopod dinosaurs (Thescelosaurus) looked on warily. Each of these groups of dinosaurs had been striding unhurriedly across the floodplain, tolerating one another's presence, spurred on by intriguing scents wafting down the sunlit valley. Nevertheless, a charging Triceratops provided a good reason to temporarily abandon their longterm goals and deal with this more immediate problem.
In unison, they all looked up at the advancing Triceratops, its profile and rapidly increasing pace causing it to appear ever larger as it neared. Next to them, a mixed flock of toothed birds and pterosaurs all turned and aligned themselves with the wind at their backs. They began hopping while flapping their wings, and then were aloft, chattering loudly. This was all the motivation one of the more skittish theropods needed to start running, and the rest of his group followed suit. The ornithopods only hesitated a second or two before doing the same. First, though, more than a few of both species lightened the load before taking off, involuntarily voiding their bowels and leaving variably colored and sized scat, peppered with seeds, on top of their distinctive footprints. In her haste, one Thescelosaurus slipped on a muddy patch and fell on her side. She quickly righted herself and bolted to catch up with the others, leaving a long, smeared body impression on the sand among the tracks.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2019, 06:47:43 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #53 on: April 09, 2017, 04:45:12 PM »
My 34th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Stewart's Why Did T. rex Have Short Arms?: And Other Questions about 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 paleoart is the only good part ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RRMG7G6JUAPF7/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

If you want the best digital paleoart, get Csotonyi/White's The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi. If you can't afford Csotonyi/White's book, get Stewart's Why Did T. rex Have Short Arms?: And Other Questions about Dinosaurs (henceforth Arms). Arms is some of Csotonyi's best work next to his Oxford University Museum of Natural History labels ( https://morethanadodo.com/2015/08/07/bringing-dinosaurs-to-life/ ). In terms of paleoart, Csotonyi is basically "Peter Zallinger, Doug Henderson and Greg Paul" combined into 1 awesome being ( https://www.amazon.com/Paleoart-Julius-Csotonyi/dp/1781169128 ). Unfortunately, the paleoart is the only good part of Arms.

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). Arms, while not the worst Children's dino Q&A book, is still very bad:
-Redundant questions? Uncheck (There are only 16 questions), but Arms more than makes up for this in the following ways.
-Vague answers? Check times infinity! The 1st Stewart quote is the worst because it answers 1 of the biggest questions in science with a vague "just so" story (See the penultimate paragraph).
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity! The 1st Stewart quote is the worst because it fails on many levels: It contradicts itself from a previous Q&A (See the 2nd Stewart quote; If "birds are a group of dinosaurs", then people did, & still do, "live at the same time as dinosaurs"); It avoids using the word "evolution" (as does the rest of Arms); It fails to understand that "developed" =/= "evolved" ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/04/2/l_042_02.html ); It fails to get the facts straight (E.g. To quote Witmer, Archaeopteryx looked like "just another feathered predatory dinosaur"; Each wing had 3 LONG fingers); It fails to explain what it means by "dino-bird". & if that's not bad enough, it isn't even illustrated with Csotonyi's Archaeopteryx, but with a stock photo of a shameless rip-off of Sibbick's Archaeopteryx with a scaly dragon face & "Wings...but with hands!" ( http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/illustration/illustration-of-archaeopteryx-preys-on-a-dragonfly-in-stock-graphic/82828488 ).*

To sum up, I recommend getting Arms ONLY for the paleoart. If you want to know "Why Did T. rex Have Short Arms", google "Wyrex’s fancy footwork and tender hands: Get to know this tyrannosaur’s softer side".

*Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Age of Dinosaurs" for "Wings...but with hands!"

Quoting Stewart:
Quote
Are there any dinosaurs alive today?
Believe it or not, birds are the modern relatives of dinosaurs. In fact, T.rex is more closely related to a blue jay than to an alligator.
Most paleontologists think that birds are a group of dinosaurs that developed around 150 million years ago. Archaeopteryx...may be the earliest true bird discovered so far. It lived in central Europe about 150 million years ago.
Archaeopteryx looked like a cross between a lizard and a bird. Like a lizard, it had sharp teeth and a long tail. Its body was covered in feathers, and it had wings. But each wing had three small fingers with claws on the ends.
Scientists think that feathers first developed to help dinosaurs stay warm. Over time, feathers became larger and dino-bird bodies became more equipped to fly. At some point, feathered dinosaurs got a split-second of extra "lift" when they pounced on prey. This gave them an advantage over other small dinosaurs and helped them survive. As their bodies continued to change, dino-birds learned to glide. Eventually, they took flight.
By the time an asteroid struck Earth 65 million years ago, many kinds of dino-birds lived all over the world. Some of them survived the disaster and developed into the birds we see today.

Quoting Stewart:
Quote
Did people live at the same time as dinosaurs?
No way! The earliest humans walked the earth around 2.3 million years ago. By then, dinosaurs had been dead and gone for more than 60 million years.
Our ancient relatives shared the world with large herbivores such as woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths. They worried about being attacked by cave bears and saber-tooth cats. None of these larger mammals are alive today. They are extinct. Scientists are still trying to figure out why they disappeared.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 09:40:41 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #54 on: June 04, 2017, 11:24:24 PM »
My 35th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Zoobooks Zoodinos Tyrannosaurus Rex. 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.

Could be better, but still good ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1Z11U1ZI7TALW/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 4/5

As you may remember, I've always wanted a sequel issue to Wexo's Zoobooks - Dinosaurs (henceforth ZD: https://www.amazon.com/review/RAVE9K9147YWQ/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ). Now, thanks to "Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life: New Zoobooks Dinos for Kids", there's a whole series of sequel issues. Zoobooks Zoodinos Tyrannosaurus Rex (henceforth ZZ) is the 1st sequel issue. In this review, I list the 3 major differences between ZZ & ZD that seem bad, but are actually good.

1) ZZ is for younger kids than ZD (6-12 vs. 9 & up, respectively): This seems bad because it implies that ZZ doesn't do as much as ZD; This seems to be the case when you compare "Meet the Theropods!" ( https://sayeridiary.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/theropod.png?resize=760%2C463 ) to the theropod part of "Zoobooks: Dinosaurs - Poster" ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/babbletrish/5747604441 ); However, this is actually good because, to paraphrase the Nostalgia Critic ( ), ZZ "had to find new avenues that people wouldn't think of if they had the luxury of" a higher age range; In this case, ZZ has less text, but uses more of it to discuss theropods & what they have in common; Also, ZZ has fewer theropod genera, but does more with them by showing the most extreme examples of theropod diversity doing their thing in their natural environment (as opposed to running around in a vacuum like ZD).

2) ZZ is mostly illustrated by Wilson (as opposed to Hallett like ZD): This seems bad because 1) nostalgia is a powerful thing, & 2) Hallett is "one of the most influential masters of modern dinosaur imagery" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Hallett_%28artist%29 ); However, this is actually good because 1) variety is the spice of life, & 2) while Hallett's paleoart is better overall, Wilson's is easier on the eyes & thus better for younger kids (Google Books search "Aesthetics A classroom is" for why); Also, while Wilson's ZZ work isn't the best, it's still good & MUCH better than his previous work (E.g. Compare ZZ's cover to that of Brown's The Day the Dinosaurs Died).

3) 1 definitely-good difference is the organization of ZZ. More specifically, ZZ is a reverse day-in-the-life dino book & thus MUCH better organized than ZD. I like how the science builds up to a day-in-the-life story of "Hungry Tara" that ties all the science together. My only problem with the story is Harren's paleoart (which is better looking but less accurate than Wilson's).*

*E.g. Harren's T.rex is a shameless rip-off of the Jurassic Park T.rex.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 02:13:13 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #55 on: June 11, 2017, 06:48:11 PM »
My 36th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Henry's RAPTOR: The Life of a Young Deinonychus. 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 odd life of a young sparkleraptor ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R2BSHHZ5GWKWZJ/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

If you want the best day-in-the-life dromaeosaur book, get Bakker's Raptor Pack & read it in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs in general & Chapter 20 in particular). As far as I know, Bakker's book gives the best idea of 1) what dromaeosaurs were like when alive, & 2) how we know what we know. I can't say the same about Henry's RAPTOR: The Life of a Young Deinonychus (henceforth Life). In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

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. The same goes for Life: Being complete & in-depth is especially important to a day-in-the-life story that covers more than a day ( http://prehistoricpulp.blogspot.com/2007/07/raptor-red-by-robert-t-bakker-1995.html ); The problem is that Life is anything but, skipping & glossing over many important things in Deinonychus's life (E.g. Everything related to reproduction).

2) 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that their stories are poorly-illustrated. The same goes for Life: If you think Rey's Deinonychus is ugly, then you'll hate Penney's; The former is at least plausible; The latter isn't even that (E.g. Pronated hands, feathers that look more like bush viper scales, etc); Worse still, the latter is a "Sparkleraptor" ( http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2010/09/lets-read-more-old-dinosaur-books.html ); Not only is that misleading, but also hypocritical (Quoting Penney: "Painting dinosaurs in bright colors…makes more sense than thinking that all dinosaurs were either gray or brown, which is how they were painted during the first half of the twentieth century").

3) 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). The same doesn't go for Life, but only because there's almost no emphasis on the science: There's a map (See the Henry quote) & an artist's note; That's about it. In other words, not only do the dinos not act like dinos, but there's no scientific justification given for how they act.*

*At best, Life's Deinonychus is more croc-like than dino-like. At worst, Life's Deinonychus is unlike any real animal. In reference to "At best", it's stated that "Deinonychus's mate sits on a buried clutch of eggs", presumably based on croc nest-guarding (Quoting GSPaul: "A female drapes part of her body in irregular poses atop a nest within which her eggs are deeply buried"). In actuality, pennaraptorans in general & Deinonychus in particular brooded their eggs ( http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/e06-033 ). In reference to "At worst", it's implied that animal packs are competition-based hierarchies, presumably based on "the notions of "alpha wolf" and "alpha dog"" ( http://io9.gizmodo.com/why-everything-you-know-about-wolf-packs-is-wrong-502754629 ). In actuality, wolf packs are families. The same goes for dino packs (Quoting Orellana/Rojas: "Cooperative hunting is executed by pairs, family groups, or sibling groups, and is generally related to cooperative breeding").

Quoting Henry:
Quote
The Cretaceous Period lasted from 146 million years ago until 65 million years ago. This map shows how the landmasses of the planet looked at the time of our story, 100 million years ago. The white outlines denote the modern shapes of the continents as we know them today.
Our story takes place in North America, in the great forest that existed beyond the western shore of the great inland sea called the Niobrara. The fossil remains of several different kinds of dinosaurian raptors...including Deinonychus...have been discovered here.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 12:52:33 PM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #56 on: September 05, 2017, 04:45:44 PM »
My 37th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Lauber's How Dinosaurs Came to Be. 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.

Why didn't anyone tell me about this book? ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R39WS997IOS6UW/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 4/5

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up with Lauber's work in general & The News About Dinosaurs in particular, the latter of which introduced me to Henderson. It's amazing then that I didn't know about Lauber's How Dinosaurs Came to Be (henceforth HD) until adulthood. & it's doubly amazing how good HD is for a children's book about a very important yet under-appreciated subject:* For 1, it's very well-illustrated (I.e. Henderson's pastels are especially easy on the eyes; See the cover for what I mean); For another, it's very well-organized (I.e. Not only does it have a chronological format, but each chapter begins with a day-in-the-life story & ends with a lead-in to the next chapter); For yet another, it's very complete & in-depth.**

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there are several technical problems throughout HD (I.e. Archosaurs with too many claws & non-pastels with hard-to-make-out details). For another, HD avoids using the word "evolution" (E.g. "By studying the fossil record, paleontologists can see when and how new kinds of life developed"). Even still, I recommend reading HD in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs" in general & Chapter 39 in particular).

*Google "Triassic Officially Loses Status! - General Fossil Discussion" for what I mean by "very important yet under-appreciated".

**After Chapter 1 (which summarizes "the world of the early dinosaurs" & how "we know about these ancient times"), HD consists of 4 chapters, each of which focuses on a different period or epoch (Permian, Early Triassic, Middle Triassic, Late Triassic). Not only does each chapter describe the dominant land animals, but also key scientific concepts related to their dominance (E.g. Chapter 2 describes the pelycosaurs that dominated the Permian landscape as well as the continental drift that led to their dominance).
« Last Edit: March 31, 2019, 03:09:40 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #57 on: September 10, 2017, 12:20:38 PM »
"Not only is that misleading, but also hypocritical given that, to quote Penney, "Painting dinosaurs in bright colors…makes more sense than thinking that all dinosaurs were either gray or brown, which is how they were painted during the first half of the twentieth century.""

Who's Penney and why is that hypocritical?

HD-man

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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #58 on: September 11, 2017, 09:14:10 AM »
"Not only is that misleading, but also hypocritical given that, to quote Penney, "Painting dinosaurs in bright colors…makes more sense than thinking that all dinosaurs were either gray or brown, which is how they were painted during the first half of the twentieth century.""

Who's Penney and why is that hypocritical?

Penney illustrated the book (See "Product Details" in the review link). I've since modified the review to make that more clear. It's hypocritical b/c, as indicated by the Penney quote, Penney criticized 20th century paleoartists for doing what he did.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 07:41:39 AM by HD-man »
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Re: HD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!
« Reply #59 on: September 12, 2017, 07:48:39 AM »
My 38th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Moody's Dinofile: Profiles of 120 Amazing, Terrifying and Bizarre Beasts. 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 REAL worst dino field guide ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R11QFC0SN4L2PA/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

If you want the best dino field guide for casual readers, get Holtz/Brett-Surman's Jurassic World Dinosaur Field Guide. As you may remember, I referred to Brusatte's Field Guide to Dinosaurs as "the worst dino field guide" ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1BHCV2E970BGY/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1849160066 ). However, that was before I read Moody's Dinofile: Profiles of 120 Amazing, Terrifying and Bizarre Beasts (henceforth Dinofile). Brusatte's book is at least well-organized & authoritative. Dinofile isn't even that. In this review, I list the other, more major problems (which, ironically, are listed as highlights on the back cover) while using the Microraptor profile as the main example ( http://palaeofail.tumblr.com/post/71902141271/happy-new-year-from-palaeofail ).

1) To say that Dinofile is annoying in terms of writing would be a major understatement. This is especially apparent in the so-called "in-depth profiles".* Even if you only read the "at-a-glance information", you'll see that the animal names are annoyingly misspelled (E.g. Maniraptora is misspelled as Manuraptora) & inconsistent (E.g. Some of the dromaeosaurs are grouped as maniraptorans, while others are grouped as eumaniraptorans).

2) To say that Dinofile is hit-&-miss in terms getting the facts straight would be a major understatement. Again, this is especially apparent in the so-called "in-depth profiles". Even if you only read the "at-a-glance information", you'll see that there's an average of at least 3 factual errors per page in Dinofile, a 64 page book (E.g. Microraptor =/= 50 cm & 128-126 MYA).

3) Pixel-shack's "stunning and accurate computer artworks" are actually anything but. The scaly-skinned, bunny-handed Microraptor is bad, but not as bad as it gets in Dinofile (E.g. The Thecodontosaurus has a green iguana's feet, the Falcarius has a Velociraptor's head, & the Pachyrhinosaurus is a cyclops). It's also worth mentioning that many of the dinos drool a lot.

4) Many of the "silhouettes showing size comparison to humans" are ridiculously oversized. This is especially apparent in the dromaeosaur profiles: The Microraptor silhouette is Velociraptor-sized compared to humans, while the Velociraptor silhouette is Deinonychus-sized compared to humans; See FredtheDinosaurman's "Dromaeosauridae size chart for Wikipedia" for how said dromaeosaurs actually compare in size: https://fredthedinosaurman.deviantart.com/art/Dromaeosauridae-size-chart-for-Wikipedia-708931961

*So-called because they're annoyingly vague (E.g. See the Microraptor profile; Notice that it doesn't explain what it means by "bird-like dinosaurs" nor why Microraptor & Troodon don't count).
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 09:03:07 AM by HD-man »
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