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 JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!

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JD-man
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeMon Mar 27, 2023 5:03 pm

Quote :
My 98th review for this thread is a negative 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" 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.

What's the purpose? ( www.amazon.com/review/R11GF639RIK8M4/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 1/5

My negative review was down for a while, but it's back up now.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeSat Jun 03, 2023 2:36 am

My 99th review for this thread is a positive 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

A series of dino-related events ( www.amazon.com/review/R2PGR6JLPSI52Y/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 5/5

Remember what I said about Brusatte's The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs & The Age of Dinosaurs ( www.amazon.com/review/R1OH8T8KHLCFEF/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 )? Tanaka's Graveyards of the Dinosaurs (henceforth GD), while not a natural history per se, is similar in that it combines field stories with day-in-the-life stories, but in ways that work better. In this review, I list those ways.

1) GD begins with a Prologue describing Roy Chapman Andrews, whose "story inspired many young paleontologists to continue his adventure[...&...]discover some remarkable things not only about how dinosaurs died, but about how they lived" (I.e. The overarching theme of GD). GD then continues with 3 middle chapters, each of which begins by describing a paleontologist (I.e. Norell, Currie, & Sereno, all of whom consulted on GD), his then recent discoveries, & how they connect to GD's theme. My only related gripe is a few weird bits in the writing (E.g. On page 38, it's stated that T. rex is "more advanced than both Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus", but not explained how).

2) Each of GD's middle chapters ends by telling a day-in-the-life dino story based on that paleontologist's then recent discoveries (I.e. Oviraptor, Centrosaurus, & Herrerasaurus). This reminds me of how "Evolving Planet" is laid out, but with the paleontologist descriptions being the "homework" parts of the middle chapters & the dino stories being the rewards (See the Ben quote). GD then ends with an Epilogue describing the end-Cretaceous extinction, how the earth & its life changed over time (which helps put the stories in context), & 19 "[then] new dinosaur finds around the world". I especially like that it includes a reminder that dino-related knowledge is important not just for knowledge's sake (See the Tanaka quote).

3) GD is mostly illustrated by Barnard, Hallett (E.g. See the front cover), Sibbick, & Skrepnick: The paleoartwork of Hallett, Sibbick, & Skrepnick is great at using "balance, composition, perspective, and color in concert with factual information to create riveting images of the past that capture the interest and imagination of a very wide audience" (See Lanzendorf's Dinosaur Imagery: The Science of Lost Worlds and Jurassic Art: The Lanzendorf Collection); Barnard's GD work, while overall not as good as the others', is still mostly very good; In fact, some of the former reminds me of the latter in terms of balance/composition/perspective/color, differing only in degree; I especially like Barnard's Oviraptor on page 15 ( https://chasmosaurs.com/2022/03/10/vintage-dinosaur-art-graveyards-of-the-dinosaurs/ ). My only related gripe is McMaster's diagrams & maps (E.g. His Oviraptor on page 13 looks like a sock puppet with Barnard's Oviraptor colors).

I recommend reading GD in conjunction with other, more recent books, especially Chuang/Yang's Age Of Dinosaurs (which tells day-in-the-life Oviraptor, Centrosaurus, & Herrerasaurus stories that are mostly accurate by modern standards).

Quoting Ben ( https://extinctmonsters.net/2015/01/14/framing-fossil-exhibits-a-walk-through-time/ ):
Quote :
Visitors are more focused and more inclined to read signs carefully early in the exhibit, so the developers used the introductory rooms to cover challenging concepts like the origins of life and the mechanisms of speciation. This is the “homework” part of the exhibit, and the narrow corridors and limited sightlines keep visitors engaged with the content, without being tempted to run ahead. Once visitors reach the Mesozoic and the dinosaurs, however, the space opens up. Among the dinosaur mounts, visitors are can choose what they wish to view, and in what order. This serves as a reward for putting up with the challenging material up front.

Quoting Tanaka:
Quote :
In the end, it is not the fact that dinosaurs are gone that interests so many people. What fascinates us about dinosaurs is the way they lived. They were peaceful browsers and vicious killers. They looked as weird as aliens and as familiar as garden lizards. They grew to almost impossible sizes, with killing claws and teeth more frightening than any horror movie has shown us. They thundered over the land, preyed on each other, ate monstrous amounts of vegetation, yet somehow left the earth intact for 165 million years. No wonder we think they may have something to teach us.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeSun Jun 04, 2023 7:15 pm

My 100th review for this thread (Happy 100th! Yay!) is a negative 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" 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 messy mess ( www.amazon.com/review/R241X2Q5ASLSNL/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 2/5

Compared to Tanaka's Graveyards of the Dinosaurs ( www.amazon.com/review/R2PGR6JLPSI52Y/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ), her New Dinos: The Latest Finds! The Coolest Dinosaur Discoveries! (henceforth ND) is a messy mess of a dino book. In fact, if I didn't know better, I wouldn't think they're by the same people (I.e. Written by Tanaka, illustrated by Barnard, & consulted by Currie). In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why that is.

1) Unlike GD, ND is only illustrated by Barnard. This wouldn't be bad if his ND work was good like his GD work. Unfortunately, it's not even close. This is especially apparent in "But I Don't WANNA be a Hypsilophodon!" ( https://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2011/04/but-i-dont-wanna-be-hypsilophodon-lets.html ): For 1, his downy feathers look more like stringy doll hair; For another, his Thescelosaurus has too many claws & concentric rings;* For yet another, his Masiakasaurus is just plain abominable (I.e. Besides the above problems, look how misshapen & disproportionate its head is compared to the actual skull).

2) Unlike GD, ND is very unorganized, not even having a table of contents. It doesn't help that, also unlike GD, ND's overarching theme is very lacking (I.e. It's basically just, "Look at all these cool new dinos!").

3) Unlike GD, ND is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in "Hunting for Dinner": 1st, see the Tanaka quote; Then, compare it to "Predation in T. rex and other theropods" ( https://reptilis.net/DML/1994Nov/msg00148.html ).**

*To be fair, his GD animals also have too many concentric rings, but not to the same degree. Also, said rings aren't as noticeable in the nicer, more atmospheric environments of GD.

**On a related note, there are also weird bits of writing in ND (E.g. "Grabbing AND kicking the prey with its hind limbs"?; That doesn't make any sense!).

Quoting Tanaka:
Quote :
Hunting for Dinner
Meat-eating dinosaurs probably adopted one of three hunting techniques used by carnivores today. Some, like Utahraptor, might stalk prey (like a cat after a mouse), step by step: (I) with its long tail stretched out behind for balance, (2) at the right moment the raptor would pounce forward, (3) grabbing and kicking the prey with its hind limbs and disemboweling it with its enormous claws.
Other dinosaurs, like Suchomimus, might suddenly lunge for prey like a crocodile, biting down quickly on the neck or back.
Dinosaurs like Velociraptor may have chased down prey, like a cougar after a deer, jumping up again and again to weaken the quarry before the final kill.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeSat Aug 05, 2023 5:32 pm

My 101st review for this thread is a positive 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

1 of my favorite dino art books ( www.amazon.com/review/R351M1OTCN3NML/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8
): 5/5


Do you love Conway et al.'s All Yesterdays (henceforth AY) &/or anything by Charles Knight? If so, then I recommend reading Witton's Recreating an Age of Reptiles (henceforth RA) in conjunction with "Mark P. Witton's blog". RA is 1 of my favorite dino art books, along with Willoughby's Drawing and Painting Dinosaurs: Using Art and Science to Bring the Past to Life (which I reviewed: www.amazon.com/review/R1OS92FMVQC0TY/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ). In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why that is.

1) RA is basically a spiritual successor to AY, beginning with a Preface that more-or-less continues where AY leaves off, most apparently when Witton says that "our knowledge of fossil animals continues to swell, but greater knowledge does not always bring greater clarity". In fact, in the same paragraph, he says to see AY for a discussion "of recent, compelling observations that our traditional palaeoartistic approaches can fail to produce animals consistent with those of modern times". Furthermore, Witton later describes it as "a tome[...]devoted to discussing informed speculation in palaeoart and an essential read for anyone interested in the artistic portrayal of extinct life", which is also a near-perfect way to describe RA, as you can see in "Recreating an Age of Reptiles - book launch video" ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc__NnW1V9Q ).

2) Witton himself is basically a modern-day Knight, which is especially fitting given 1) AY's Introduction ("Both [GSPaul] and Bakker were inspired by Charles R. Knight's[...]discussions and depictions of animal anatomy[...]His book—Animal Drawing: Anatomy and Action for Artists—should be obtained by anyone seriously interested in the subject"), & 2) the fact that Witton was "crowned [1 of] the Kings of Palaeoart" the same year that RA was published ( https://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-great-2017-palaeoart-survey-some.html ). Furthermore, in reference to "Brontosmash!" on page 28, he says that it "owes a debt to Charles Knight, whose ability to produce murky, atmospheric palaeoart was truly first rate", which can also be said about Witton's ability, most apparently when you compare his sauropod paintings (especially "A mural for Dippy") to Knight's (especially "Brontosaurus, 1897").
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeMon Aug 14, 2023 11:07 pm

My 102nd review for this thread is a negative 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" 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 not-so-grand tour ( www.amazon.com/review/R7A87XAX2YWOW/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 2/5

Pim's Dinosaurs―The Grand Tour (henceforth Tour) was originally published in 2013 as The Bumper Book of Dinosaurs. I hadn't read the whole thing then, but based on what I had read, I interpreted it as being like the NHM's "Dino Directory" in book form (I.e. Lots of good info, but also lots of outdated paleoart). Now that I've read the whole 2nd edition of Tour, I see that I gave it too much credit. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why that is.

1) There's a lot of weird text (1) & writing (2) throughout Tour. This is especially apparent in the Pim quote:
-1) I'm specifically referring to Pangaea (which had already split into Laurasia & Gondwana in the Jurassic), "the first spikey-skulled ceratopsians" (which had already evolved in the Jurassic), carcharodontosaurs (which were already roaming South America in the Jurassic), & maybe the part about tyrannosaurs.*
-2) I'm specifically referring to the missing commas ("In western North America tyrannosaurs[...]and on land the first flowers[...]"), the oddly-structured sentences ("The warm seas teemed with ammonites, gigantic pterosaurs flapped through the skies,[...]"), the hyperbole ("monstrous carcharodontosaurs[...]the most almighty bang..."), & maybe the part about tyrannosaurs.*

2) There's a lot of non-paleoart (1) & bad paleoart (2) throughout Tour:
-1) Less than half of the profiled dinos (I.e. 83 out of 195) are reconstructed.
-2) Many of Pastori's reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in his Dromaeosaurus/Scipionyx/Deinonychus/Velociraptor (which 1st appear on the 1st inside flap & then on page 4: https://theexperimentpublishing.com/2015/04/these-dino-times-they-are-a-changin-by-keiron-pim/ ): For 1, they're shameless rip-offs of Klausmeyer's Deinonychus/McCreery's baby Velociraptor/multiple JP reconstructions/Rey's 90s Velociraptor, respectively;** For another, they have mostly scaly skin &/or bunny hands; For yet another, they have very misshapen & disproportionate body parts (which makes sense given that they're mostly based on the wrong genera). Yes, they're from 1999. However, even if you ignore the fact that other paleoartists were doing better work in 1999 & earlier, that wouldn't explain why his newer reconstructions also have the above problems. The most egregious example in Tour may be his Neuquenraptor from 2008, which shamelessly rips off Sibbick's "Deinonychus portrait, front" with the addition of colors & feathers.*** Not only is Sibbick's reconstruction very well-known (E.g. See Norman's Dinosaur!), but Neuquenraptor has been known to be an unenlagiine (& thus, very different looking from eudromaeosaurs like Deinonychus) since 2005.

*In reference to "maybe", is the problem more about text or writing?: On the 1 hand (in reference to text), Pim might mean that tyrannosaurs had both unrivaled brain-power & unrivaled bite-power; If so, that's not right (I.e. Maniraptoriformes had relatively larger brains & cerebrums); On the other hand (in reference to writing), he might mean that they had an unrivaled combination of brain-power & bite-power; If so, why not simply say that?

**By "multiple JP reconstructions", I mean the T. rex head, the Velociraptor body, & the Ultimasaurus colors/patterns.

***Speaking of colors, remember what I said about the Durantes' colors (See problem #3: www.amazon.com/review/R27SC99ROOM98I/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 )? The same goes for Pastori's (E.g. Compare the front cover T. rex to any of Rey's tyrannosaurids).

Quoting Pim:
Quote :
No great extinction opens this epoch, only a geological trend that saw more chalk formed than in any other time within the last 500m years, which led a German geologist to name it the Kreidezeit or ‘chalk period’. This term was later Latinised into Cretaceous; the limestone-rich Greek island of Crete owes its name to the same derivation. And so while Pangaea dispersed further, with the southern landmass of Gondwana splitting into something approaching the arrangement we recognise from today’s atlas, the dinosaurs flourished, diversifying further into some of the most amazing forms to have inhabited Earth. The first spikey-skulled ceratopsians and bone-headed pachycephalosaurs evolved, while monstrous carcharodontosaurs roamed South America alongside the lithe and lethal abelisaurs and the immense herbivorous titanosaurs. In western North America tyrannosaurs became the most advanced meat-eaters known, blending a brain-power and bite-power both unrivalled among fellow land animals of their time. The warm seas teemed with ammonites, gigantic pterosaurs flapped through the skies, and on land the first flowers began to bloom. Mammals began their ascent, birds became established - and then it all ended with the most almighty bang... except that it didn’t end, for we remain surrounded by dinosaurs to this day. Those that survived joined the mammals, fish, reptiles, flowering plants and trees to form the template for our present array of flora and fauna. As the terrestrial dinosaurs’ world ended, the one that we recognise was just beginning.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 03, 2023 1:02 am

My 103rd review for this thread is a positive 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

Another great Smithsonian book ( www.amazon.com/review/R22IC4CL8G4TG9/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 5/5

Remember what I said about Johnson/Stucky's Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth (henceforth PJ: www.amazon.com/review/R3F47215A3OEHY/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 )? The same mostly goes for Edgar's Smithsonian Dinosaurs and Other Amazing Creatures from Deep Time (henceforth SD), but even more so.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why that is.

1) Both PJ & SD are published by natural history museums. However, as good as the DMNS is, the Smithsonian is 1 of the best dino museums ever ( www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-dinosaur-exhibits-in-the-world ). This is especially apparent in the Smithsonian's adult dino books (E.g. The 1st edition of Naish/Barrett's Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved, which is co-published by the NHM).

2) Both PJ & SD are very well illustrated with both photos of fossils & life reconstructions. However, as good as Greg Micheals's paleoart is, Csotonyi's is some of the best ever ( www.amazon.com/review/RRMG7G6JUAPF7/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ). I especially like the combination of the Smithsonian's Diplodocus mount & Csotonyi's "Smilosuchus gregorii hunting [early dinos] in the Late Triassic" on the front cover, which is a good way to show that 1) dinos are the most awesome land animals, but 2) they didn't start out that way.

3) Both PJ & SD have a chronological format (which, contra the "no narrative thread" claim of 1 Amazon Reviewer, is made pretty clear from the beginning: [See the Edgar quote] ). However, SD is better at distinguishing the different periods. This is especially apparent in the Triassic & Jurassic (which are lumped together into Chapter 6 in PJ, yet distinctly color-coded in SD).

*I say "mostly" because, unlike PJ, SD is for kids. On a related note, my only gripes are the lack of non-dino IDs/pronunciations & the lack of a glossary. More specifically, most of the bigger words are defined in the main text, but some aren't (E.g. "Climate" & "Climate change"), & some are only defined long after they're 1st used (E.g. "Mass extinction", which is 1st used on page 9 & defined on page 22).

Quoting Edgar:
Quote :
Everyone likes a good story, and no story is grander than the saga of Earth and life on it. It’s a very long tale—spanning over 4.5 billion years—but it features plenty of plot twists, scene changes, and a cast of amazing characters. Including you: your body contains traces of life’s long journey across deep time, the billions of years from Earth’s formation to today[...]This book takes you from the earliest Earth, just after the planet formed, through successive eras in time and turning points of evolution, up to the age of humans. From the viewpoint of deep time, climates and ecosystems constantly shift, and species come and go. Some groups, like the dinosaurs featured here, endure for vast stretches of time. Our species is still young, yet it is having a huge global impact that will influence the outcome of Earth’s next chapter.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeMon Nov 06, 2023 4:08 pm

My 104th review for this thread is a positive 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a very good book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

A condensed natural history ( www.amazon.com/review/RYNJFTCGBFUHK/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 4/5

Holtz's The Little Giant Book of Dinosaurs (henceforth TL) is better than one might think based on the cover (which originally turned me off). In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is.

1) In my very 1st review, I describe Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs as "the "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" exhibition in book form" ( www.amazon.com/review/R2URWS93D4PO4C/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ). Similarly, I'd describe TL as Holtz's "GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History" course (fall semester 2000) in children's book form. More specifically, TL covers all the same subjects (albeit MUCH more condensed) in almost exactly the same order.

2) In reference to "almost exactly", the only major differences are that TL 1) profiles ~60 dinos, & 2) mostly covers biology/ecology/behavior in the profiles. In other words, TL reminds me of Norell's The World of Dinosaurs: An Illustrated Tour ( www.amazon.com/review/R3R6KZA4VWB8E6/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ), especially in terms of putting each dino in perspective ecologically & with its relatives (E.g. See the Holtz quotes).

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there are several examples of misediting throughout TL (E.g. "All dinosaurs[...]are descendants of the most recent common ancestor of Iguanodon or Megalosaurus"; Should read: "Iguanodon and Megalosaurus"). For another, most of the ornithischians & some of the theropods are depicted with wonky anatomy &/or a derivative look (E.g. The Gastonia reminds me of Sibbick's "Normanpedia" Euoplocephalus & even has an ankylosaurid head). Otherwise, TL is very good & I recommend reading it in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Naish/Barrett's Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved).

Quoting Holtz:
Quote :
The first and most primitive known armored dinosaur, Scutellosaurus, was small, had a small head and short arms, and walked on its hind legs. It had hundreds of small armor plates or scutes covering its back and tail. If a small predator tried to attack it, the plant eater could curl up with its armored tail wrapped around its body. If the small predator tried to bite into its back or tail, it probably couldn’t cut through the armor and might even break a tooth trying. All these small armor plates probably made Scutellosaurus slower than the other plant eaters that lived at the same time. The scutes would help against a small attacker, but if a bigger meat eater attacked, its much larger teeth and claws could probably get through. Something else would be needed to defend against these bigger predators.

Quoting Holtz:
Quote :
Descended from Scutellosaurus or a similar dinosaur, Scelidosaurus represents the next stage in the history of the armored dinosaurs. Because little armored dinosaurs could not defend against larger predators, they had two possible ways to go. Either they could become faster or they could become larger and more heavily armored. Scelidosaurus is much larger than Scutellosaurus, and has much larger armor plates. Very few predators of its time could have pierced its thick scutes. Such armor came at a cost, however. A big animal with lots of armor plates was too heavy to run very fast. In fact, Scelidosaurus had so much armor that it probably had to walk on all fours all the time, rather than run around on its hind legs like Scutellosaurus.
From Scelidosaurus or its close relations came the two main branches of advanced armored dinosaurs: the stegosaurs and the ankylosaurs. The stegosaurs became more mobile, with a more active defense; the ankylosaurs became walking tanks.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeWed Feb 07, 2024 1:07 am

My 105th review for this thread is a positive 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

The best standalone story of life ( www.amazon.com/review/RNC87X5NKMCOK/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 5/5

If you want the best story of life for casual readers, get the Earth Before Us series (which I reviewed: www.amazon.com/review/R17ZWNPWDUKZWI/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ) &/or Witton's Life through the Ages II: Twenty-First Century Visions of Prehistory (henceforth LA), depending on your preferences. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think LA is the best standalone story of life, especially if you like Sampson's Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life (E.g. See the Sampson quote; Apparently, Witton is also "one of those people").*

1) Sampson's book takes readers on "an epic journey through time that[...begins with...]the foundations of the dinosaurian web, including the history of life and the diversity of dinosaurs, as well as the physical, ecological, and evolutionary processes that shaped the Mesozoic world". LA takes readers on a similarly epic journey, beginning with a similarly multi-part intro:
-The 1st part summarizes Knight's professional history & how it relates to LA, ending with a strong environmental message: "The early and mid-twentieth century had a vastly different view of human development, population, and our relationship with wildlife and natural environments. Growing realization about our shrinking, weakening biosphere necessitates a greater reverence for the natural world than was generally held in the 1940s, and this underscores the urgent need for its preservation[...]There has never been a more important time for understanding our place in the natural world, the evolutionary history that we are part of, and the way that organisms—including ourselves—shape the future of planet Earth." This message is apparent throughout LA, but especially closer to the end (E.g. In reference to Paraceratherium, "It is a sad fact that poaching will likely cause the final demise of the rhinocerotoid lineage, and quite possibly within our lifetimes").
-The 2nd part summarizes "the theories behind geological time, the relationships of organisms, and the paleoartistic process", & is illustrated with the geological timescale, "the general picture of life's evolution and the relationships of species on many specific branches", & a step-by-step of Witton's "methods and philosophy of reconstructing fossil animals", respectively. Said pic & step-by-step are especially noteworthy: For 1, as you may have noticed, too many dino/paleo books lack cladograms ( www.amazon.com/review/R2Z26TGSD6GSZP/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ), including other story-of-life books ( www.amazon.com/review/R22IC4CL8G4TG9/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ); For another, to quote Witton, "the paleoart process is not well known outside of a sphere of individuals with a keen interest in fossil animals, so it is worth outlining here to put the following illustrations in context."

2) To quote Sampson, "all science writing should follow Albert Einstein’s dictum: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”" That's exactly what LA is. More specifically, LA is a perfect balance of in-depth & concise, providing just the right amount of technical detail without being too technical. Furthermore, there's "an appendix with notes about the paleontological data used in each image", including references to more technical sources "if more detail[...]is desired". "Paraceratherium, a Giant Rhinocerotoid" is an especially noteworthy example, given how complicated trunks are (I.e. See the Witton quotes; The 1st is from the main text, & the 2nd is from the appendix). My only gripe is several examples of misediting throughout LA (E.g. "As was discussed when we encountered the giant rhinoceratoid[...]").

*The paleoart is another main reason (which I discuss in another review: www.amazon.com/review/R351M1OTCN3NML/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ). Speaking of which, my favorite part of LA is "Mesozoic Mammals": For 1, it reminds me of Kirk's 1989 work (I.e. A deinonychosaur is eating a mammal "against a beautiful sunset": www.amazon.com/review/R2PUKOSQNJNGTF/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ) but MUCH more up-to-date; For another, to paraphrase Witton, it's basically "a companion piece to[...Stout's "Mammals" essay, allowing...]for direct comparison of modern ideas with those of several decades ago" ( [See attached photos] ); As you may remember, I reviewed Stout's book ( www.amazon.com/review/R163RH76269WJS/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ).

Quoting Sampson:
Quote :
Cultural historian Thomas Berry goes so far as to claim that much of our present crisis with the environment comes down to a lack of story. We currently do not have a compelling narrative that places humanity into a larger context, so our lives tend to lack a sense of meaning or greater purpose. No longer do we feel the awe, wonder, or sense of sacredness about nature typical of many preindustrial (and present indigenous) cultures. But what should the new story be? Berry's solution, supported by growing numbers of scientists, theologians, and educators, is the Great Story—sometimes called the Universe Story, the New Story or the epic of evolution—that begins with the big bang and traces our sinuous path to the present day[...]Some people view this narrative as the greatest triumph of the scientific revolution, as well as an opportunity to help heal the rift between science and religion and provide that much-needed sense of meaning and purpose. I am one of those people.

Quoting Witton:
Quote :
Indricotherines are related to (or may be part of) Hyracodontidae, and they shared their gracility, short torsos, and long limbs. They would thus have been svelter than modern rhinos, and were probably relatively sprightly for their size. Indricotherines also had a reasonably long neck, though exactly how long remains to be determined: modern reconstructions still differ in this regard. Their skulls are well known and, though possessing powerful rhino-like jaws and massive teeth, they lack features we associate with the presence of rhinoceros horns. A further contrast with modern rhinoceros stems from indricotherine skull anatomy indicating a tapir-style proboscis at the end of their snouts. They likely used them to browse from trees, scooping vegetation into their mouths or stripping leaves from twigs. This may seem like a bold claim, given our lack of any fossilized indricothere soft tissues, but trunks and proboscises require significant reorganization of skull anatomy to house the demands of their musculature and nervous tissues, and we can identify these adaptations in fossil animals with well-preserved skulls.

Quoting Witton:
Quote :
Numerous interpretations of Paraceratherium anatomy have existed over the last century, leading to reconstructions looking like scaled-up rhinos or robust-looking giraffes. Most recent literature seems to have found a middle ground between these two extremes, with a form resembling a gigantic, somewhat horselike creature. As noted in the main text, there is good reason to assume that Paraceratherium bore a short proboscis. Paul’s (1997) skeletal was the primary anatomical reference for this painting, with some additional details taken from Prothero (2013).
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeMon Feb 12, 2024 9:51 pm

My 106th review for this thread is a negative 1. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" 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 "Helpful" 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.

Why Jenkins, why? ( www.amazon.com/review/R39L728FLMLBKM/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ): 1/5

If you want good children's books about living & extinct predators, get Predator (DK Eyewitness Books) & Prehistoric Predators: The Biggest Carnivores of the Prehistoric World, respectively. Jenkins's Apex Predators: The World's Deadliest Hunters, Past and Present (henceforth AP) is not a good 1, not surprising given his other books ( www.amazon.com/review/R21LUEX1AD0VBE/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ). Obviously, there's the inaccurate, cheap-looking illustrations, but there's also the hit-&-miss text & the weird writing: Said text is especially apparent in "Apex predator face-off on land"; Said writing is especially apparent in "Deadly claw"; See attached photos for both.*

Getting back to the illustrations, this applies to both the living & extinct predators (E.g. The great white shark is all blue &, on page 7, has eyes where its nares should be). More specifically, the latter are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the non-bird dinos:
-The T. rex on the front cover & page 5 is a shameless rip-off of the Jurassic Park T. rex (which has been outdated since at least the 2000s).
-The Spinosaurus on pages 22-23 is a shameless rip-off of DK's current Spinosaurus (which has been outdated since 2014, shortly after it 1st appeared in DK's Dinosaur! (Knowledge Encyclopedias)).
-To say that the Utahraptor on pages 23 & 30 is just plain abominable would be an understatement. The best way I can describe it is as a poor man's version of "Aldrovandi's monstrous rooster" ( https://tetzoo.com/blog/2018/11/14/aldrovandis-monstrous-rooster-a-15th-century-dino-chicken ). Yes, Hartman's new-&-improved skeletal wasn't published until 2017, but the info WAS available to those who asked for it, as indicated by both Csotonyi's "Utahraptor attacking Hippodraco" & Willoughby's "The More Accurate Utahraptor" in 2014 (Google them).**

*In reference to text, it's claimed that "the big cat is probably smarter" (Probably not, for reasons discussed in another review: www.amazon.com/review/R2J9L4TSUN4V1G/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8 ), that "Utahraptor can[...]slash with[...]its deadly claws" (Probably not, as indicated by Fowler et al. 2011), that Spinosaurus was a "land predator" (More like a semi-aquatic predator), & that it "could easily bite the big cat in half" (Probably not, as indicated by its weak bite). In reference to writing, why repeat the sidebar text in the main text? Why be so needlessly vague/generic about the pack-hunting & prey of Utahraptor?

**If you wanna support the research said skeletal is based on, I recommend googling "Utahraptor Megablock Fossil Project". I also recommend googling "Utahraptor Reconstruction Development by codylake".
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews! - Page 4 Icon_minitimeTue Feb 20, 2024 6:14 pm

For those who haven't seen the "2/20/24 UPDATE":
JD-man wrote:
I originally posted the following at deviantART ( https://www.deviantart.com/jd-man/journal/Review-update-1-5-789276373 ).

Quote :
Hi everybody!

"My Serious Dino Books" used to be an Amazon Listmania! List ( https://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/introducing-hadiazmy-1st-listmania-list.html ), but then Amazon stopped doing Listmania!, so now it's a Goodreads Listopia List ( https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/198241.My_Serious_Dino_Books_Please_don_t_vote_or_add_books_ ). I've since updated previous mentions of said list accordingly (E.g. Finally, my 1st journal entry!, hence the title of this journal entry). This journal entry is just in case you haven't already seen said updates. 3 more things of note:

-1) I've also since updated the requirements for said list. They're basically the same, but more streamlined.*

-2) I've also since completed said list (Amazon stopped doing Listmania! before I could add Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved", among others). I like to think of it as a near perfect reading list, partly b/c of its requirements (which, to quote Dino Dad Reviews, are for "separating the paleo-wheat from the cheap-cash-in-chaff"), & partly b/c it consists of 30 popular adult dino books spanning 30 years to the month (I.e. October 1986-October 2016).

-3) I've also since noticed that the 1st & last 6 books on said list are surprisingly similar (I.e. There's a great natural history of dinos w/a terrible cover, a book titled "Flying Dinosaurs", another natural history of dinos that accompanies a dino doc series, & a book authored & illustrated by GSPaul). Funny how that worked out.

*E.g. What used to be 2 requirements is now 1: For adult "casual readers"/"the enthusiast" ( http://whenpigsfly-returns.blogspot.com/2008/04/paleo-reading-list.html ).

Cheers,
Herman Diaz

2/20/24 UPDATE: I've since replaced my Amazon Idea List (which, like Listmania!, Amazon inexplicably stopped doing🙄) w/a Goodreads Listopia List (which, on the bright side, allowed me to include more backstory😉).
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