Monday, October 2, 2017

The Saurian Dakotaraptor could be better

In terms of ecology/behavior, this Dakotaraptor is better:

Long story short, I disagreed w/the ecological/behavioral depiction of the Saurian Dakotaraptor & provided contradictory evidence (which I think is more in line w/the generally agreed-upon hypothesis that "Dromaeosaurs Are Terrestrial Hawks": ) in my Saurian DevLog comments. I originally wasn't planning on posting modified versions of said comments here. However, since the Saurian team never got back to me, I figured this post might be a good way to 1) find out more from readers about Saurian's reasoning, & 2) remind readers to always think critically about what they're reading.

DevLog #22

Sorry for commenting on DevLog #19 here, but it took me a while to get all my thoughts together in writing. I wasn't even sure if I should comment at all: For 1, I get that it's probably too late to make changes at this stage of the Saurian-making process; For another, I get that you guys probably have valid reasons for the ecological/behavioral depictions in Saurian. However, I decided that, just like when reviewing books, contradictory evidence should always be made known whether or not it changes anything. At the very least, maybe it'll help for future reference.

"but parents will not bond to their children or partners. This means that Dakotaraptor hatchlings will generally try to follow one of their parents while simultaneously searching for food and water, while their parents will mostly ignore them and go about their business. Players can rely on the presence of their parents to help defend from some certain threats, but the parents won’t hesitate to abandon them if they are threatened. At a certain age, the hatchlings will start to see their parents as threats, and their parents will see them as food, so they will part ways" ( ).

1stly, in reference to parent-parent bonding, see the Varricchio et al., Zelenitsky/Therrien, & Mike quotes. They discuss evidence suggesting that at least some deinonychosaurs, including a probable dromaeosaurid, probably formed cooperative mated pairs that worked together to build nests &, presumably, raise young.

2ndly, in reference to parent-child bonding, see the Horner quote AWA the page 10 abstract in this link. They discuss evidence suggesting that at least some small to medium-sized tetanurines, including a deinonychosaur, probably had semi-precocial young:

There are other quotes discussing related evidence, but this comment is running long. If you want to see said quotes, let me know & I'll include them in another comment.
Quoting Varricchio et al. ( ): "The longer time required by coelurosaurians to generate a clutch with monoautochronic ovulation  and brooding may have necessitated a longer pair-bond between mates and greater parental investment in coelurosaurians like Troodon in comparison with typical crocodilians." 
Quoting Zelenitsky/Therrien ( ): "Montanoolithus strongorum is only the second type of maniraptoran clutch known from North America, after that of Troodon formosus (Horner and Weishampel 1996; Varricchio et al. 1997, 1999). Our cladistic analysis reveals that TMP 2007.4.1 belongs to a maniraptoran theropod that is phylogenetically bracketed by Citipati (Oviraptoridae) and Troodon (Troodontidae) + Numida (Aves); the basal position of Deinonychus in this analysis may be due to missing data (50%) for this taxon. The phylogenetic position of Montanoolithus within Maniraptora indicates that this taxon is more derived than Oviraptoridae but less derived than Troodontidae. The only maniraptorans (besides Troodon) known from the Two Medicine and Oldman formations of North America are caenagnathids and dromaeosaurids (Weishampel et al. 2004), which represent the most probable egg-layers of Montanoolithus. However, the crownwards position of Montanoolithus relative to oviraptorids may support a dromaeosaurid affinity." 
Quoting Mike ( ): "By studying the fossil the scientists have been able to determine that this dinosaur dug its nest in freshly deposited, loose sand, possibly along the shore of a river. An analysis of the substrate under the actual fossil indicates that the dinosaur disrupted the rock underneath, indicating that there was a substantial amount of effort put into the digging when excavating the nest. Perhaps this indicates that the mated pair worked together". 
Quoting Horner ( ): "Data from Egg Mountain and Egg Island now provide extensive evidence to hypothesize the nesting behaviors of Troodon and the paleoecology of its nesting ground. The animals nested in colonies, used the nesting ground on at least three different occasions, constructed nests with rimmed borders, arranged their eggs in neat, circular clutches, brooded their eggs by direct body contact, and, apparently brought the carcasses of Orodromeus to the nesting area for their hatchlings to feed on. The hatchlings left their respective nests, but may have stayed in the nesting area for a short period of time before following the adults out of the nesting ground."
DevLog #24 (For whatever reason, the original version of this comment isn't visible)

Sorry for repeating this comment from DevLog #23, but for whatever reason, it never got officially approved there (which is especially weird given that 5 troll comments by Garrus got approved here). Anyway, to add to my DevLog #22 comment ("There are other quotes discussing related evidence, but this comment is running long. If you want to see said quotes, let me know & I’ll include them in another comment": ):
-The Britt et al. quotes discuss evidence of hawk-like gregariousness in Utahraptor ("Through observation in New Mexico over a period of years, Dr. Bednarz has determined that hawk families -- generally two primary breeders, some younger adults and some immature yearlings -- form hunting parties each morning": ).
-The Bakker quote discusses evidence of hawk-like "family values" in allosaurs that also applies to velociraptorines ("Juvenile teeth display the same features as those of adults, but on a smaller scale": ).
Quoting Britt et al. (See "4.2.2. Dinosaurs", page 5: ): "The number of identifiable specimens, NISP, of dinosaurs in our collection is 2069 (excluding 590 ankylosaur osteoderms) and the MNI is 67. These numbers are the basis for the comparisons presented here. Theropods are unusually abundant at DW (NISP= 227; MNI= 13), comprising 11% of the dinosaurian NISP and 19% of the dinosaurian MNI. The dromaeosaurid theropod, Utahraptor, dominates the theropod assemblage, and is represented by 62 teeth and 146 bones pertaining to at least nine individuals (based on hind limb elements), including 2 adults, 3 subadults, and 4 juveniles. The poorly known tetanuran theropod Nedcolbertia is a rare constituent of the fauna with only eleven bones pertaining to a minimum of two individuals (an adult and subadult). A small theropod taxon, likely representing an ornithomimid, is represented by eight bones. There are at least two individuals of unknown ontogenetic age of this taxon based on gracile limb elements of differing sizes." 
Quoting Britt et al. (See "5.5. Historical taphonomic history of the Dalton Wells bone beds", page 14: ): "The presence of clusters of partial carcasses of Gastonia, Venenosaurus, and the iguanodontid, suggest that groups of these taxa died and were introduced enmasse to the thanatocoenose. Accordingly, we speculate that these, and possibly other well-represented taxa at DW (basal macronarian, Utahraptor, other sauropods) were gregarious." 
Quoting Bakker (See Wolberg's "Dinofest International: Proceedings of a Symposium Sponsored By Arizona State University"): "A striking difference exists in modern communities between cold-blooded predators and hot-blooded predators. Most bird and mammal species feed their young until the youngsters are almost full size; then and only then do the young set out to hunt on their own. Consequently, the very young mammals and birds do not chose food items independently of the parents. Young lions and eagles feed on parts of carcasses from relatively large prey killed by the parents. Most snakes, lizards, and turtles do not feed the young after birth, and the new-born reptiles must find prey suitably diminutive to fit the size of the baby reptilian jaws and teeth. A single individual lizard during its lifetime usually feeds over a much wider size range of prey than a single individual weasel or hawk, because the lizard begins its life hunting independently.
Therefore, a predatory guild of three lizard species with adult weights 10g, 100g and 1000g would require a much wider range of prey size than a guild of three mammal predator species with the same adult weights. If allosaurs had a lizard-like parental behavior, then each individual allosaur would require a wide size range in prey as it grew up. The evidence of the Como lair sites strongly suggests that the dinosaur predatory guild was constructed more like that of hot-blooded carnivores than that of lizards or snakes.
This theory receives support from the shape of the baby allosaur teeth. In many cold-blooded reptilian predators today, the crown shape in the very young is quite different from the adult crown shape. For example, hatchling alligators have the same number of tooth sockets in each jaw as do the adults, but the hatchling crowns are very much sharper and more delicate. In the hatchling all the teeth are nearly the same shape, and the young gators have less differentiation of crown size and shape along the tooth row; the hatchlings lack the massive, projecting canine teeth and the very broad, acorn-shaped posterior crowns of the adults. Young gators feed extensively on water insects, and the sharp crowns are designed for such insectivorous habits. Adult gator species use their canine teeth for killing large prey, such as deer, and employ the acorn crowns to crush large water snails and turtles (Chabreck, 1971; Delaney and Abercrombie, 1986; McNease and Joanen, 1977; Web et al, 1987).
If allosaur hatchlings fed independent of adults, I would not expect the hatchling tooth crowns to be the same over-all shape as that of the adult. However, the over-all tooth crown shape in the tiniest allosaur IS identical to that of the adult (figs. 3,4). Thus it appears that hatchlings were feeding on prey tissue of the same general texture and consistency as that fed upon by adults."

Monday, September 18, 2017

My 20th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 18th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 19th Pair of Reviews":,204,203,200_.jpg

My NEW favorite serious dino book ( ): 5/5

As you may remember, Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs" WAS my favorite serious dino book ( ). However, Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved" (henceforth DH) is my NEW favorite. Thus, DH is now my go-to natural history of dinos. There are 2 main reasons for why that is: 1) DH is very comprehensive; This is especially apparent in Chapters 5-6 (which not only cover "the origin of birds" like Chapter 10 of Gardom/Milner's book, but also birds "beyond the Cretaceous"); 2) DH is very well-illustrated; In addition to Sibbick (who illustrated Gardom/Milner's book), DH is illustrated by Bonadonna, Conway, Csotonyi, Kn├╝ppe, Nicholls, Willoughby, & Witton. My only nit-picks are the cover art (which, while not the worst, neither reflects the interior art nor compares to the cover art of Gardom/Milner's book) & the lack of focus on the museum website (although the museum logo should be enough to show readers where to go for more info). Otherwise, these 2 books are very similar (E.g. Compare the quotes at the end of this review). 1 more thing of note: For whatever reason, Amazon doesn't do Listmania! anymore; If it did, DH would be right under Pickrell's "Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds" on "My Serious Dino Books" ( ).
"For 160 million years, dinosaurs were the most successful and diverse creatures to dominate the Earth. This book is based on the world-famous fossil collections and permanent “Dinosaurs” exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum. Written by two experts from one of the world’s leading Paleontology departments, this book features hundreds of color photos and illustrations that reveal the astonishing variety of life that proliferated in the Mesozoic Era—the Age of Dinosaurs. Tim Gardom has researched several major exhibitions, including The Natural History Museum’s acclaimed “Dinosaurs.” Angela Milner is Head of Fossil Vertebrates at The Natural History Museum" ( ). 
"From the Victorian golden age of dinosaur discovery to the cutting edge of twenty-first century fossil forensics 'Dinosaurs' unravels the mysteries of the most spectacular group of animals our planet has ever seen. Despite facing drastic climatic conditions including violent volcanic activity, searing temperatures and rising and plunging sea levels, the dinosaurs formed an evolutionary dynasty that ruled the Earth for more than 150 million years.Darren Naish and Paul Barrett reveal the latest scientific findings about dinosaur anatomy, behaviour, and evolution. They also demonstrate how dinosaurs survived the great extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period and continued to evolve and thrive alongside us, existing today as an incredibly diverse array of birds that are the direct descendants of theropods. 'Dinosaurs' is lavishly illustrated with specimens from the Natural History Museum's own collections, along with explanatory diagrams and charts and full-colour artistic reconstructions of dinosaur behaviour" ( ).

The worst dino museum in book form ( ): 1/5

Short version: If you want the best dino museum book for older kids, get Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs". If you want the best dino museum books for younger kids, get Aliki's dino books & read them in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").* Green's "The Dinosaur Museum: An Unforgettable, Interactive Virtual Tour Through Dinosaur History" (henceforth Museum #2) may be the worst children's dino museum book I've ever read.

Long version: Read on.

TripAdvisor Reviewers say that The Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester (henceforth Museum #1) is "the worst dinosaur museum", & based on their reviews & photos, I'm inclined to agree ( ). In this review, I list the 4 main reasons why Museum #2 is similarly bad or worse while using "The Meat-Eaters" as the main example (See the back cover).

1) Like Museum #1, Museum #2 is lacking in real fossils & full of bad reconstructions: In reference to fossils, each chapter has 1 or 2 at most & only some of them are real (E.g. "The Meat-Eaters" has a replica Velociraptor claw & a real T.rex tooth); In reference to reconstructions, each chapter has at least 3 or 4 & they're shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions (E.g. The Iguanodon on the front cover is a shameless rip-off of the "Walking With Dinosaurs" Iguanodon), just plain outdated/abominable (E.g. The T.rex has pronated hands; Both of the Giganotosaurus are unrecognizable as such), or some combination of both (E.g. The Velociraptor is a shameless rip-off of the "Jurassic Park" Velociraptor with pronated hands & feathers that look more like yellow grass).

2) Like Museum #1's text, Museum #2's is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. In "The Meat-Eaters", it's claimed that Velociraptor "charged after prey at up to 40 miles...per hour" (More like 24 mph), T.rex's "tiny front limbs may have helped it to stand up after lying down" (They didn't), "T.rex teeth had serrated...edges that could cut through flesh like steak knives" (They couldn't), & Giganotosaurus was 3 m high (More like 4 m high).

3) Like Museum #1's writing, Museum #2's is annoyingly vague. In fact, Museum #2's is even worse in that it's also annoyingly hyperbolic (E.g. See the Green quote for both vagueness & hyperbole) & repetitive (E.g. The word "terrify" is used 3 times in "The Meat-Eaters" alone).

4) Like Museum #1, Museum #2 is poorly-organized. Not only are the dino chapters scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason, but so are the dinos within each chapter. This is especially apparent in "The Meat-Eaters" (which features Velociraptor, Giganotosaurus, & T.rex) & "Small but Deadly" (which features Oviraptor, Troodon, Deinonychus, Coelophysis, & Compsognathus). Not only are the theropod chapters separated by ornithischian & sauropod chapters, but the theropods within each chapter are almost completely random. In other words, nothing in Museum #2 makes any chronological/phylogenetic/ecological/etc sense.**

*In reference to "Aliki's dino books", google "".

**In reference to "chronological/phylogenetic/ecological/etc sense", google "DINOSOURS! on tumblr. - Framing Fossil Exhibits - Framing".
Quoting Green: "Giganotosaurus
Monster-size Giganotosaurus was probably even larger than T.rex. Its enormous jaws opened more than wide-enough to swallow you! Most likely it lunged at victims and took great bites of flesh with its sharp teeth. One twist of its sturdy neck could have ripped its victim limb from limb."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Natural Histories of Dinos

As far as I know, this is the most recent NHD book:

When I think of what natural history means, I think of the Geils/Vogler quote below. A Natural History of Dinos (henceforth NHD) is the best kind of non-encyclopedic dino book, mostly b/c it's "designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals...[in a] direct, clear written style" ( ). Yes, I have a Bachelor of Science in "Natural History and Interpretation" ( ) & thus am very biased. That said, NHD books are mostly very good to great & I wanna know about all of them, hence this post. All the NHD books I know about are listed below. If there are any books you think should be listed, please let me know. Many thanks in advance. 2 more things of note: 1) No docs or websites, only books; 2) No children's WWD books, only adult WWD books.
Quoting Geils/Vogler (See "A Natural History Perspective": ): "The term history in natural history derives from the Greek for inquiry or knowing. A natural history is a description of one kind of organism in its natural environment. It is a narrative on the development, behavior, relationships, evolution, and significance of a subject organism. We are inspired by Charles Darwin and E. O. Wilson. Their work demonstrates that natural history is not just for charismatic species, but also for ‘lowly’ barnacles and ants. Natural history unites biology and philosophy. What we perceive depends on how we observe and integrate that observation into an operational model of reality (see Hawking and Mlodinow 2010). What we perceive determines what we accept as true, beautiful, and right—therefore, what motivates our action."
Halstead's "The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs"

Moody's "A Natural History of Dinosaurs"

Colbert's "Dinosaurs: An Illustrated History" (See the back cover: )

Waldrop/Loomis' "Ranger Rick's Dinosaur Book" ("A magazine published ten times a year containing stories, photographs, riddles, games, and crossword puzzles relating to natural history": )

Norman's "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" (See "About this Item": )

Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" ("Zoobooks...both natural history and the environment": )

Man's "The Natural History of the Dinosaur"/"The Day of the Dinosaur"

Lessem's "Dinosaur Worlds" ( )

Haines' "Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History"

Martill/Naish's "Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence - How Did They Know That?"

Benton's "Walking With Dinosaurs: Fascinating Facts"

Colagrande/Felder's "In the Presence of Dinosaurs" (See "About this book": )

Stout's "The New Dinosaurs"/"The Dinosaurs" (See the back cover: )

Barrett's "Dinosaurs: A Natural History"/"National Geographic Dinosaurs"

Gee/Rey's "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic" ( )

Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs"

Brusatte/Benton's "Dinosaurs" (See "Key Features" under "About this product": )

Brusatte's "Field Guide to Dinosaurs" (To quote Reed J. Richmond, "This is a slimmed down version of the huge coffee table book that Brusatte did earlier (titled "Dinosaurs")")

Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" ( )

Scott's "Planet Dinosaur" ( )

Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs" ( )

White's "Dinosaur Hunter: The Ultimate Guide to the Biggest Game" (See "My thoughts": )

Naish/Barrett's "Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved"

Fastovsky/Weishampel's "Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History"/"The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My 19th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a very good book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 18th Pair of Reviews":,204,203,200_.jpg

Why didn't anyone tell me about this book? ( ): 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. Dinos 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).,204,203,200_.jpg

The REAL worst dino field guide ( ): 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" ( ). 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 ( ).

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 Durbed's "Dromaeosaur parade" for how said dromaeosaurs actually compare in size:

*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).

Sunday, April 16, 2017

My 18th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a very good book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews":

Could be better, but still good ( ): 4/5

As you may remember, I've always wanted a sequel issue to Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" (henceforth ZD: ). 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!" ( ) to the theropod part of "Zoobooks: Dinosaurs - Poster" ( ); 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" ( ); 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.,204,203,200_.jpg

The odd life of a young sparkleraptor ( ): 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 ( ); 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" ( ); 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 acted.*

*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 ( ). 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"" ( ). 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: "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."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My 17th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews":,204,203,200_.jpg

1 of a kind ( ): 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, to paraphrase DoubleW ( ), Chapter 1 "serves as a vehicle for [Martin] to give science lessons in a user-friendly format"; 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 ( ). 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 properly, 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" ( ); On the other hand, similar books do have "high quality pictures and graphs that break up the text" ( ); 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 ( ), "The fauna Bakker portrays is a very artificial one, combining genera from two different parts of the Early Cretaceous."
Quoting Martin: "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."

The paleoart is the only good part ( ): 2/5

If you want the best digital paleoart, get Csotonyi's "The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi". If you can't afford Csotonyi'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 ( ). In terms of paleoart, Csotonyi is basically "Peter Zallinger, Doug Henderson and Greg Paul" combined into 1 awesome being ( ). 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" (See "Backgrounder": ); 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!" ( ).*

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: "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: "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."

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ben's Phylogenetics is Moon Man Talk

Hi everybody,

As you may remember, I said that I have a Bachelor of Science in "Natural History and Interpretation" ( ). Thus, I had a lot to say in my comment on Ben's "Phylogenetics is Moon Man Talk" ( ). This post is a modified version of said comment. Here's hoping you get as much out of Ben's blog as I did. It's been very influential to my reviewing ( ).

Herman Diaz

P.S. Happy New Year!

Quoting Ben: "People are introduced to these categories in grade school, and you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who couldn’t tell you whether (say) a cat is a mammal or a reptile. What is missing is what that actually means. We can’t assume that just because somebody knows a cat is a mammal, they know that fur and milk glands…are things to look for when categorizing mammals. They also may not know that “mammal” is an evolutionary group – that all the animals that fall under this banner are more closely related to each other than they are to anything else."

If that's the case, then I'm surprised, given that even I (I.e. A little dum-dum who grew up in various small hick towns) knew & heard all that in grade school: That some animals are more closely related than others; That the more closely related ones share certain features that others lack (E.g. In reference to mammals, even whales have some body hair). My lifelong interest in dinos & educational tv might've helped, but I still didn't know much else about evolution until college. Speaking of educational tv, the "Who's Who?" episode of "Kratts' Creatures" may be the best children's tv explanation of how animals evolved (& thus, should be required viewing for anyone who talks to laypeople about phylogeny).

Paraphrasing Ben: "as Torrens and Barahona demonstrate, [cladograms] are regularly misinterpreted by the public."

Cladograms on their own, yes, but if an educator is using one like you describe ("How can educators hope to cover so much ground without confusing, distracting, or alienating their audiences? One option is to use a cladogram, or evolutionary tree"), then that shouldn't be a problem b/c the educator is there to clarify the cladogram.

Quoting Ben: "Basic Vertebrate Classification…Evolutionary History Through Deep Time"

You're obviously much more intelligent/experienced than I could ever hope to be. However, I feel like maybe I can provide a different perspective (& thus, a possible solution), given my personal experience as a little dum-dum who had to figure out a lot of that on his own through trial & error.

When laypeople ask me what something is, I 1st ask them if they know what reptiles/mammals/etc are & then describe the something accordingly. For instance, when talking about dinos, I describe reptiles as "4-legged backboned animals characterized by keratin scales (among other things)", dinos as "land-living reptiles with an erect posture", birds as "flying (or secondarily flightless) feathered dinos", etc. In your case, I'd describe mammals as "4-legged backboned animals characterized by body hair & milk glands (among other things)" & non-mammal synapsids as "proto-mammals, or extinct relatives of true mammals".* Also, when asked why something (E.g. Pterosaurs) isn't part of a certain group (E.g. Dinos), I say, "All dinos (including birds) share a common ancestor & certain features inherited from that ancestor (E.g. An open hip socket). Pterosaurs lack said features, which is how we know they're not dinos." If/when need be, I explain that said features might seem small/insignificant to us, but make a big difference in the evolution of said animals (E.g. An open hip socket allowed the erect posture of dinos, which allowed them to run faster & grow larger than other reptiles). Does that help?

*Seriously, educators should use "proto-" more often. It helps a lot when describing intermediate groups to laypeople (E.g. Non-dino dinosauromorphs = proto-dinos, or extinct relatives of true dinos; Non-croc pseudosuchians = proto-crocs, or extinct relatives of true crocs; etc).

Quoting Ben: "How Scientists Discover Evolutionary Relationships"

Have you read Hedley's "Dinosaurs and Their Living Relatives"? If not, I definitely recommend doing so. It may be the best children's dino book when it comes to explaining that (& thus, should be required reading for anyone who talks to laypeople about phylogeny). I like it so much that I reviewed it in "Cladistics yay!" ( ). Here's hoping you like "Cladistics yay!" (&, assuming you have an Amazon account, vote Yes for it ;) ).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Animation is back

I'm still alive, but have had a few board game gigs (that paid) pop up. I haven't given up on my palaeo-animation project.

I have been discouraged by the difficulty of proper CGI pixar style animation (I'm only the one person, and a hobbyist at that).

As I'm aiming for little lighthearted factoid clips, and not full length products, I've started experimenting with a more 16 bit video game technique, which I think is starting to look cool.

Input is welcome.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Case of a Mosasaur picture

This story originally posted by Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs. For more details please do visit their very fine site.

This particular case particularly interests me as it involves a Mosasaur from the Southern Hemisphere...

The short version is someone took Asher Elbein's fine picture of a Tylosaurus, and without his permission reposted it onto the site Dinopedia under a CC licence. Obviously this licence was illegal, but compounding the issue is a research team/paper picked up the picture and copied it for use in a paper about a new Antarctic Tylosaurine. Despite the false CC licence, the scientists in question did not credit the art that they blatantly traced...

As I'm still in palaeo art hibernation, I'm not pretending to be super involved or knowledgeable beyond that, and again direct you to Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs if you want any more details.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My 16th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews:
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews":
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews":

Cladistics yay! ( ): 5/5

To quote Grandmother Fish ( ), 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 ( ), "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 ( ), "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 by Graham High's dino models & they're very life-like. This is especially apparent in the cover: Remember when Lex shines the light into the T.rex's eye in "Jurassic Park"?; To quote Faraci ( ), "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 by Peter Snowball's dino paintings & they're very easy on the eyes. My only gripe, besides the lack of evolution, is that most of the sauropods & some of the ornithischians are depicted as dragging their tails.*

*Living uses the word "evolution" multiple times, but doesn't define it.
Quoting Hedley: "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 they may have appeared when they were alive." 
Quoting Padian ( ): "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."

BANDitry boo! ( ) 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: ).
Quoting Markle: "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 ( ): "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 ( ): "— 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]"

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Good, Semi-good, and Bad Dino Sources 3

This post is the 3rd & last part in the "Good, semi-good, and bad dino sources" series. If you haven't read the 1st ( ) or 2nd part ( ), I recommend reading them b/c the former explains how said series works & the latter explains what's changed since the former.


The AMNH ("The American Museum of Natural History": ) is the best popular source of any dino museum next to the NHM (See "Good": ). AFAIK, the AMNH has published more/better popular dino books (2 of which I reviewed) & organized more/better dino exhibitions (3 of which I mentioned in reviews) than any other dino museum.*

Remember what I said about Martyniuk & Willoughby (See "Good": )? The same goes for Brougham ("softdinosaurs | Jason Brougham Paleontological Art": ). His species reconstructions in general & "Three dinosaur genera: Gallus, Zhongornis, Bambiraptor" in particular remind me of Audubon's Bird Guide ( ) & Norell's comments about quill knobs on Velociraptor ("The more that we learn about these animals the more we find that there is basically no difference between birds and their closely related dinosaur ancestors like velociraptor. Both have wishbones, brooded their nests, possess hollow bones, and were covered in feathers. If animals like velociraptor were alive today our first impression would be that they were just very unusual looking birds": ), respectively.

You could say that Csotonyi ("": ) & Hartman ("Scott Hartman's Skeletal": ) are the new & improved GSPauls (See "Semi-good": ): Csotonyi is "one of the world's most high profile and talented contemporary paleoartists" ( ); Hartman is "a terrific resource for artists looking for reference material for illustrating dinosaurs" ( ); Like GSPaul, both are scientists whose "scientific training has been instrumental in informing [their] artwork" ( ); Unlike GSPaul, neither are "needlessly controversial" ( ).

Remember what I said about Hone (See "Good": )? He has since written a dino book like Holtz ("The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: The Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs", which is for casual readers: ). Yay!

Whether they're called "Jersey Boys Hunt Dinosaurs" or "Prehistoric Beast of the Week" (henceforth PBOTW: ), DiPiazza & friend(s) are, to paraphrase Thomas Edison ( ), "so dope that [they] even make New Jersey look good". There are 3 main reasons for why I think that is: 1) To quote DiPiazza ( ), "Never before has there been a site that revolved around paleontology that ALSO had a strong foothold in modern animal biology, particularly endangered species conservation"; Naish's "Tetrapod Zoology" is similar, but more for the enthusiast, while PBOTW is more for casual readers; Point is, very few sources are consistently good at combining paleontology & zoology;** 2) DiPiazza is "a published paleo-artist, having painted images of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life for displays in museums, books, magazines, scientific publications, and websites. His professional experience, working closely with and observing living animals, gives him an inspirational edge when creating paleo-art" ( ); In other words, DiPiazza's paleoart is both the medium & the message of PBTOW's awesomeness; 3) DiPiazza & friend(s) remind me of a young Bakker in terms of background & outreach ( ); I hope they write/illustrate dino books like Bakker too, someday.

"Paleoaerie" ( ) is to AR what "Prehistoric Beast of the Week" is to NJ.

SV-POW! ("Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week": ) is the ultimate source of sauropod anatomy info. Classicalguy's "Sauropod Vertebra Picture Adventure!" ( ) sums up why. Put another way, SV-POW! is basically a sauropod-centric version of Naish's "Tetrapod Zoology".

If Conway et al. are the A-Team of paleoart (See "Good": ), then Witton is the Lone Ranger ("HOME - markwitton": ): Whenever there's trouble, he rides in on his giant pterosaur & saves the day; His Spinosaurus posts are an especially good example of that ( ).

*I'm specifically referring to Norell et al.'s "Discovering Dinosaurs: Evolution, Extinction, and the Lessons of Prehistory, Expanded and Updated" (which mentions the AMNH's "Hall of Dinosaurs": ) & Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs" (which mentions the AMNH's "Hall of Dinosaurs", "Fighting Dinos", & "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries": ) for casual readers.

**Some paleontologists have tried w/mixed results (E.g. Cau; See "Semi-good" for what I mean: ). Some zoologists have tried w/even worse results (E.g. Marven; See "Bad" below for what I mean).


Rey's "Re: Horner Talks" ( ) sums up why Horner ("John R. Horner - Faculty and Staff": ) is a semi-good source of dino info.


Remember what I said about Peters, Dr. Pterosaur/Doug Dobney, & Gwawinapterus/Johnfaa (See "Bad": )? The same goes for Jackson ("sciencepolice2010 | Become a better scientist in under an hour! See 'Essential First Post'"), but worse b/c he's basically all 3 combined into 1 horrible being. Don't take my word for it, though. Compare Jackson's comments on Naish's "The ‘Birds Come First’ hypothesis of dinosaur evolution" ( ) to Hone's "To those who would prove us wrong – a guide to scientific dialogue" (which is basically a list of how not to be Jackson: ).

Zorak's "Nigel Marven is the Worst" ( ) sums up why Marven ("Nigel Marven") is a bad source of dino info.

Remember what I said about Blasing & Dixon (See "Bad": )? The same goes for Strauss ("Dinosaurs at"). RaptorRex's "Another Dinosaur Field Guide!?" ( ) sums up what I mean. I hate to say it b/c, based on what I've read, Strauss is a nice guy. Carr's 11/13/2013 tweet ( ) sums up what I mean.