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: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-14th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/08/my-15th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/11/my-16th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/01/my-17th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 18th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/04/my-18th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 19th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/06/my-19th-pair-of-reviews.html

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Gg5kN-drL._SX378_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

My NEW favorite serious dino book ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R3VQ7TMT8EFOC7/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

As you may remember, Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs" WAS my favorite serious dino book ( http://www.amazon.com/review/R2URWS93D4PO4C/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=184442183X&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ). 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" ( http://www.amazon.com/lm/R2H4F8H299AK8M/ref=cm_pdp_lm_title_1 ).
"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" ( https://www.amazon.com/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ). 
"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" ( https://www.amazon.com/Dinosaurs-They-Lived-Evolved-2016/dp/0565093118 ).
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The worst dino museum in book form ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1EIPWIOLMYAWT/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 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 ( https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g186263-d268146-r137214416-The_Dinosaur_Museum-Dorchester_Dorset_England.html ). 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 "paleoaerie.org/tag/aliki/".

**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: https://target.scene7.com/is/image/Target/51637647?wid=520&hei=520&fmt=pjpeg

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" ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ). Yes, I have a Bachelor of Science in "Natural History and Interpretation" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/03/introducing-hadiazmy-1st-listmania-list.html ) & 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": https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_p063/rmrs_p063_210_217.pdf ): "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: http://www.3dfx.ch/gallery/d/49916-1/Main+Dino+Books+rear.jpg )

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": https://books.google.com/books/about/Ranger_Rick_s_Nature_Magazine.html?id=xvNJAAAAYAAJ )

Norman's "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" (See "About this Item": https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=676254730 )

Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" ("Zoobooks...both natural history and the environment": https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=%22zoobooks%22+%22and+the+environment%22#hl=en&tbm=bks&q=%22Zoobooks+and+Dolphin%22 )

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

Lessem's "Dinosaur Worlds" ( http://westnoblemiddle.mysurpass.net/websafari.exe/detail?sid=E7BC76EF-2CAF-4370-A100-3F5527DE3A2F&database=westnoblemiddle&list=R&rec=5&marc=11377 )

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": http://www.nhbs.com/title/109299/in-the-presence-of-dinosaurs )

Stout's "The New Dinosaurs"/"The Dinosaurs" (See the back cover: http://www.3dfx.ch/gallery/d/49916-1/Main+Dino+Books+rear.jpg )

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" ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC261880/ )

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

Brusatte/Benton's "Dinosaurs" (See "Key Features" under "About this product": http://www.ebay.com/p/Dinosaurs-by-Michael-Benton-Steve-Brusatte-Hardback-2008/95523642?_trksid=p2047675.m4099.l9056#ProductDetails )

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" ( https://paleoaerie.org/2013/09/05/dinosaur-odyssey-a-journey-you-should-take/ )

Scott's "Planet Dinosaur" ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Planet-Dinosaur-Natural-History-BBC-x/dp/1849900930 )

Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs" ( https://paleoaerie.org/2013/11/26/its-big-its-golden-and-its-dinosaurs/ )

White's "Dinosaur Hunter: The Ultimate Guide to the Biggest Game" (See "My thoughts": http://prehistoricpulp.blogspot.com/2016/05/dinosaur-hunter-by-steve-white-2015.html )

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: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-14th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/08/my-15th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/11/my-16th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/01/my-17th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 18th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/04/my-18th-pair-of-reviews.html

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

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

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there are several technical problems throughout HD (I.e. 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).

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The REAL worst dino field guide ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R11QFC0SN4L2PA/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

If you want the best dino field guide for casual readers, get Holtz/Brett-Surman's "Jurassic World Dinosaur Field Guide". As you may remember, I referred to Brusatte's "Field Guide to Dinosaurs" as "the worst dino field guide" ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1BHCV2E970BGY/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1849160066&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ). However, that was before I read Moody's "Dinofile: Profiles of 120 Amazing, Terrifying and Bizarre Beasts" (henceforth Dinofile). Brusatte's book is at least well-organized & authoritative. Dinofile isn't even that. In this review, I list the other, more major problems (which, ironically, are listed as highlights on the back cover) while using the Microraptor profile as the main example ( http://palaeofail.tumblr.com/post/71902141271/happy-new-year-from-palaeofail ).

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

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

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

4) Many of the "silhouettes showing size comparison to humans" are ridiculously oversized. This is especially apparent in the dromaeosaur profiles: The Microraptor silhouette is Velociraptor-sized compared to humans, while the Velociraptor silhouette is Deinonychus-sized compared to humans; See Durbed's "Dromaeosaur parade" for how said dromaeosaurs actually compare in size: http://durbed.deviantart.com/art/Dromaeosaur-parade-300881541

*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: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-14th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/08/my-15th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/11/my-16th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 17th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2017/01/my-17th-pair-of-reviews.html

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

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

1) ZZ is for younger kids than ZD (6-12 vs. 9 & up, respectively): This seems bad because it implies that ZZ doesn't do as much as ZD; This seems to be the case when you compare "Meet the Theropods!" ( http://editiondigital.net/publication/index.php?i=336234&m=&l=&p=6&pre=&ver=html5#"{\"page\":6,\"issue_id\":336234 ) to the theropod part of "Zoobooks: Dinosaurs - Poster" ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/babbletrish/5747604441 ); However, this is actually good because, to paraphrase the Nostalgia Critic ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL4vRihNk4s ), ZZ "had to find new avenues that people wouldn't think of if they had the luxury of" a higher age range; In this case, ZZ has less text, but uses more of it to discuss theropods & what they have in common; Also, ZZ has fewer theropod genera, but does more with them by showing the most extreme examples of theropod diversity doing their thing in their natural environment (as opposed to running around in a vacuum like ZD).

2) ZZ is mostly illustrated by Wilson (as opposed to Hallett like ZD): This seems bad because 1) nostalgia is a powerful thing, & 2) Hallett is "one of the most influential masters of modern dinosaur imagery" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Hallett_%28artist%29 ); However, this is actually good because 1) variety is the spice of life, & 2) while Hallett's paleoart is better overall, Wilson's is easier on the eyes & thus better for younger kids (Google "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.

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The odd life of a young sparkleraptor ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R2BSHHZ5GWKWZJ/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

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

1) The 1st part of a day-in-the-life dino book usually tells a day-in-the-life story of a dino. 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that their stories are poorly-written. The same goes for Life: Being complete & in-depth is especially important to a day-in-the-life story that covers more than a day ( http://prehistoricpulp.blogspot.com/2007/07/raptor-red-by-robert-t-bakker-1995.html ); The problem is that Life is anything but, skipping & glossing over many important things in Deinonychus's life (E.g. Everything related to reproduction).

2) 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that their stories are poorly-illustrated. The same goes for Life: If you think Rey's Deinonychus is ugly, then you'll hate Penney's; The former is at least plausible; The latter isn't even that (E.g. Pronated hands, feathers that look more like bush viper scales, etc); Worse still, the latter is a "Sparkleraptor" ( http://babbletrish.deviantart.com/art/PSA-Addendum-177783393 ); 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 ( http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/e06-033 ). In reference to "At worst", it's implied that animal packs are competition-based hierarchies, presumably based on "the notions of "alpha wolf" and "alpha dog"" ( http://io9.gizmodo.com/why-everything-you-know-about-wolf-packs-is-wrong-502754629 ). In actuality, wolf packs are families. The same goes for dino packs (Quoting Orellana/Rojas: "Cooperative hunting is executed by pairs, family groups, or sibling groups, and is generally related to cooperative breeding").
Quoting Henry: "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: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-14th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 15th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/08/my-15th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 16th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/11/my-16th-pair-of-reviews.html

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51QRC6vj%2BvL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

1 of a kind ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R385LV9OEXYSG8/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

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

Long version: Read on.

As you may have noticed, I usually review non-fiction dino books that either don't get enough praise for being good or don't get enough criticism for being bad. What's interesting about Bones is that it got a lot of praise for covering so much ground on dino traces, but little-to-no praise for how it covers said ground (which is what really makes it 1 of a kind). Not only is Bones the only popular adult book about dino traces, but also the best adult day-in-the-life dino book. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is.

1) The 1st part of a day-in-the-life dino book usually tells a day-in-the-life story of a dino. 1 of the major problems I have with many day-in-the-life dino books is that their stories are poorly-written. Thanks to Martin, Bones doesn't have that problem. In fact, Bones is basically a dino-centric version of Aardema's "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale" written in the style of Bakker's "Raptor Red", but better: For 1, Chapter 1 tells a day-in-the-life story of a "big male Triceratops" & how its "aggressive movement...triggered overt and subtle changes in the behaviors of nearly every dinosaur nearby"; This is like Aardema's book ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO1K4wXy2CI ), but better because it's more realistic; For another, to paraphrase DoubleW ( http://prehistoricpulp.blogspot.com/2007/07/raptor-red-by-robert-t-bakker-1995.html ), 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 ( http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/movies/dvd/2011-06-30-lord-of-the-rings-dvd-extra_n.htm ). Thanks to Martin, Bones doesn't have that problem. In fact, Bones is the closest thing we have to an adult day-in-the-life dino book done 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" ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2013/05/holtzs-dinosaur-lovers-bookshelf-article.html ); On the other hand, similar books do have "high quality pictures and graphs that break up the text" ( https://paleoaerie.org/2014/06/02/best-introduction-to-evolution-textbook/ ); At the very least, Chapter 1 should've been illustrated for obvious reasons. However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5.

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

http://cdn.rainbowresource.netdna-cdn.com/products/032507.jpg

The paleoart is the only good part ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RRMG7G6JUAPF7/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

If you want the best digital paleoart, get Csotonyi'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 ( https://morethanadodo.com/2015/08/07/bringing-dinosaurs-to-life/ ). In terms of paleoart, Csotonyi is basically "Peter Zallinger, Doug Henderson and Greg Paul" combined into 1 awesome being ( https://www.amazon.com/Paleoart-Julius-Csotonyi/dp/1781169128 ). Unfortunately, the paleoart is the only good part of Arms.

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

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

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