A Review of Planet Dinosaur – The Next Generation of Giant Killers

Planet Dinosaur – Book Review

The new dinosaur discoveries, the huge, the tiny, the weird and the wonderful are revealed in remarkable detail in this book “Planet Dinosaur – The Next Generation of Giant Killers” that has been produced to accompany the BBC television series.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur, were asked to write a review and true to our word here it is.

It is more than ten years since the ground-breaking BBC television series “Walking with Dinosaurs” was first broadcast on BBC1.  Now, 2011 brings the much anticipated “Planet Dinosaur” to our screens, an opportunity to highlight some of the amazing dinosaur discoveries that have been made over the last decade or so.  Accompanying the 1999 television series a book entitled “Walking with Dinosaurs – A Natural History” was published, in a continuation of this trend, BBC Books have produced a companion to “Planet Dinosaur” and what a visual feast it proves to be.

It may be just a blink in geological time since 1999, but this new publication is strikingly different from its predecessor.  For example, “Walking with Dinosaurs – A Natural History” followed the format of the television programmes very closely.  Each of the six chapters was dedicated to telling the story and introducing the prehistoric animals and the science behind them from a particular episode of the TV series.  “Planet Dinosaur – The Next Generation of Giant Killers”; in contrast, focuses on the prehistoric animals and the palaeontology, with the use of a graphic novel style layout to highlight elements taken from individual television programmes.

Each of the main protagonists from the television series is given its own double page fact file – a vast array of amazing prehistoric creatures many of whom have been discovered since 1999.  A highly detailed CGI image is surrounded by notes providing information about long extinct animals as diverse as Microraptor – a dinosaur that could glide and predator X a huge, marine reptile so new to science that it has yet to be formally named and described.

In contrast to the “Walking with Dinosaurs” publication,  the majority of the animals featured are described using their binomial scientific name, that is, the genus and species name as if to reaffirm the publisher’s desire to provide a strong scientific undercurrent to the narrative.

The Front Cover of “Planet Dinosaur”

Picture Credit: Ebury Publishing

A handy pronunciation guide is provided, a boon to parents and grand-parents who will no doubt be persuaded to read alongside their dinosaur obsessed younger family members.

One slight criticism we proffer in what is generally an excellent book, towards the end of the 238 pages there is a small section that attempts to place the prehistoric animals featured in the television series into context with geological time.  We could take issue with the dates given for some of the geological periods, indeed there seems to be some discrepancies over the dates given in this section with those stated in the introduction, but our main gripe is that the Triassic has been omitted from the time-line altogether.  This may be expediency on behalf of the publishers, as the television series focuses almost exclusively on the work of palaeontologists studying creatures that lived during the later part of the Mesozoic Era – the Jurassic and the Cretaceous.

Just as certain as planet Earth having been subjected to extraterrestrial impacts, this beautifully illustrated book will prove to be very popular amongst avid dinosaur fans.  Its clever combination of stunning images and scientific detail  will also intrigue and inform the casual reader, keen to see how the science of palaeontology and our understanding of the prehistoric world has moved on. Highly recommended.

6 Responses to “A Review of Planet Dinosaur – The Next Generation of Giant Killers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have 2 very important questions about the book. The answers will help me decide whether to get the book.
    1stly, is Naish named as either author or editor in the book? I ask b/c I prefer dino books either authored or edited by dino paleontologists. I heard Naish was involved in the book, but I wanted to make sure.
    2ndly, is the book more like “Walking With Dinosaurs: A Natural History” (I.e. It's the documentary transcribed) or “Walking With Dinosuars: The Evidence” (I.e. It's about how we know what we know)? I ask b/c I prefer dino books about what dinos were like when alive & how we know what we know. I figured it's more like the latter based on your review, but I wanted to make sure.
    Many thanks in advance for your help.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have 2 very important questions about the book. The answers will help me decide whether to get the book.
    1stly, is Naish named as either author or editor in the book? I ask b/c I prefer dino books either authored or edited by dino paleontologists. I heard Naish was involved in the book, but I wanted to make sure.
    2ndly, is the book more like “Walking With Dinosaurs: A Natural History” (I.e. It's the documentary transcribed) or “Walking With Dinosuars: The Evidence” (I.e. It's about how we know what we know)? I ask b/c I prefer dino books about what dinos were like when alive & how we know what we know. I figured it's more like the latter based on your review, but I wanted to make sure.
    Many thanks in advance for your help.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi there,
    Glad you enjoyed the book!
    All the best,
    Cavan

  4. Anonymous says:

    Darren Naish acted as a consultant palaeontologist for the book, one of a number of people whose job was to make sure that the palaeontology was presented in an appropriate manner. Dr. Naish acted as a specialist reader, overseeing the facts and data presented. To answer your second question, this book does not follow the television programmes verbatim. It sits more in the “how we know what we know area” of dinosaur publications. Please be aware, as with all projects of this nature, the evidence interpreted from the fossil record can be looked at in other ways. However, the ideas presented, for example, mobbing behaviour in large Theropods, the Maribou stork-liDarren Naish acted as a consultant palaeontologist for the book, one of a number of people whose job was to make sure that the palaeontology was presented in an appropriate manner. Dr. Naish acted as a specialist reader, overseeing the facts and data presented. To answer your second question, this book does not follow the television programmes verbatim. It sits more in the “how we know what we know area” of dinosaur publications. Please be aware, as with all projects of this nature, the evidence interpreted from the fossil record can be looked at in other ways. However, the ideas presented, for example mobbing behaviour in large Theropods, the Maribou stork-like behaviour of large Pterosaurs such as Azhdarchidae are all theories that have been postulated recently.ke behaviour of large Pterosaurs such as Azhdarchidae are all theories that have been postulated recently.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That's great. Now I know that I want the book. Thanks again.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi there,
    Hope I can help. Darren was neither the editor or the author, but he read everything to give a second opinion of whether my research was correct and to advise on certain points.
    Many thanks,
    Cavan

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