Category: Book Reviews

Recommended Christmas Reading for Dinosaur Fans

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles” – An Ideal Christmas Gift

Not sure what to buy a budding palaeontologist for Christmas, well, Everything Dinosaur recommends “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura (Siri Scientific Press).  This book provides a comprehensive guide to the dinosaur discoveries that have been made in the United Kingdom and it takes the reader from the Triassic through to the Late Cretaceous, cataloguing all the various dinosaurs in geochronological order.

The Front Cover of Dinosaurs of the British Isles

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Dean and Nobumichi have painstakingly compiled a comprehensive review of all the major dinosaur fossil finds and this book is aimed at the general reader as well as at fossil collectors and dinosaur fans.  Southern England and the Isle of Wight may be globally significant locations when it comes to Early Cretaceous dinosaurs, but readers may be surprised to find that the sandstones in Morayshire (Scotland) have provided tantalising clues to life on the super-continent Pangaea during the Triassic and the oldest dinosaur tracks can be spotted at Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan (south Wales).

The authors are to be commended, as they provide a fascinating introduction to the Dinosauria, their classification and the emergence of palaeontology as a science.  This all follows a well-written foreword by Dr. Paul Barrett, a highly respected academic and vertebrate palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum (London).  With the Dinosauria well and truly introduced, it is time to meet some of the amazing prehistoric creatures that once roamed the British Isles.  For example, at least three types of tyrannosaurid may once have roamed across this part of the world.  There’s the Proceratosaurus (P. bradleyi) whose fossilised remains, come from Gloucestershire, the fearsome, five-metre long Juratyrant, a terror of the Late Jurassic whose fossilised remains have been discovered near Swanage (Dorset) and Eotyrannus (E. lengi), represented by a partial skeleton found on the Isle of Wight.

 Documenting the Theropoda of the British Isles

A potential Compsognathidae?

A potential Compsognathidae?

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

 It is not just the meat-eaters that palaeontologist Dean Lomax has documented in collaboration with California based, palaeoartist Nobumichi Tamura.  The United Kingdom boasts some very impressive (and gigantic) herbivorous dinosaurs too. This book also provides a comprehensive account of the huge Sauropods that once stomped across the British Isles, many of which rivalled the long-necked dinosaurs of North America in terms of size.

To visit the website of Siri Scientific Press to learn more about “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”: Siri Scientific Press

Author Dean Provides a Scale for Cetiosaurus

A belly up view of "Whale Lizard".

A belly up view of “Whale Lizard”.

Picture Credit: Dean Lomax

The full colour photographs are very informative and support the text extremely effectively.  This is a rare example of a book that will appeal to serious academics as well as to the general reader.  ”Dinosaurs of the British Isles” provides a fascinating introduction to the Dinosauria, before moving on to describe every dinosaur species represented by the known fossil record from this part of the world in great detail.

Highly recommended.

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles” by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura is available from Siri Scientific Press (Siri Scientific Press), length 414 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9574530-5-0.

Winner of Everything Dinosaur Competition Announced

Name an English Dinosaur “Anglosaurus lomaxi

In October, Everything Dinosaur ran a competition to win a signed copy of the terrific dinosaur book “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”.  This book, which was published in the summer, catalogues the dinosaur discoveries known from the British Isles and it was written by the highly talented Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.  Following a foreward by the eminent palaeontologist Dr. Paul Barrett, the authors summarise what is known about the history of every dinosaur species discovered within the British Isles.

The Front Cover of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Palaeontologist Dean Lomax kindly signed a copy and sent it over to Everything Dinosaur, we had a prize, now all we needed was a competition.  The contest we came up was to name an imaginary new species of English dinosaur.  We had so many imaginative entries, we can’t give everyone a mention but here’s a few…

  • “Herniornis Londonous” – Bubosaurus
  • “Ankyliceritops” – Heathyceritops
  • “Britanniasaurus” – Tom
  • “Blightyosaurus” – Aaron
  • “Elgaraptor” – Melanie
  • Ukinodon” – Ken
  • “Manteladon” – Darryl
  • “Forsythodon” – Eleanor
  • “Stiffupperliposaur” – Rosemary
  • “Anningosaurus” – Susan
  • “Kyleosaurus” – Wyatt
  • “Britisaurus” - Sarah
  • “Arthurodon” – Kevin

Honourable mentions to all these but the winning entry pulled out of the hat was “Anglosaurus lomaxi” posted up on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page by Robert.  The name translates as “Lomaxi’s English Lizard”, which was very apt after all, this would not be the first dinosaur name to honour a palaeontologist.

To read more about the “Dinosaurs of the  British Isles”:  “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” Reviewed

To visit the publisher’s website and to order the book: Siri Scientific Press

Once again our congratulations to Robert and our thanks to everyone who took part.  Look out for more competitions on our Facebook page and on the Everything Dinosaur blog.

Prehistoric Times Issue 111 Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times (Issue 111) Autumn 2014

Summer may be over for us in the northern hemisphere and for the UK the clocks go back next week heralding some months when nights are going to be longer than days.  However, perfect fireside reading has arrived in the nick of time, in the shape of the latest edition of the quarterly magazine “Prehistoric Times” and once again it is jam packed with interesting articles, fantastic artwork and features.  Decorating the front cover is a beautiful rendering of a Cretaceous fight scene between an unfortunate Hippodraco (iguanodontid) and a mob of Utahraptors.  This artwork was created by the very talented Julius Csotonyi and inside this issue there is a super interview with the palaeo-artist and a review of his new book “The Palaeoart of Julius Csotonyi” by Julius and Steve White.  Everything Dinosaur team members were sent a copy of this hardback a few months ago, it really is an excellent book showcasing the talents of a remarkable artist.  The interview with Julius conducted by “Prehistoric Times’s” editor Mike Fredericks, is supported by lots of illustrations which show the range of prehistoric animals and time periods covered by Julius in his new publication.  The scene featuring several Late Cretaceous herbivores demonstrating “dietary niche partitioning” is my personal favourite, although my nephew likes the eyeball-plucking raptor best – still that’s kids for you.

The Front Cover Artwork (Prehistoric Times Issue 111)

Prehistoric Times magazine.

Prehistoric Times magazine.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times

One of the featured prehistoric animals is Baryonyx and there are oodles (scientific term), of great illustrations sent in by readers on this member of the Spinosauridae and we greatly appreciated the article by Phil Hore on this Theropod.  We too, like Phil, have speculated on how many fossil specimens ascribed to prehistoric crocodiles in the past may well turn out to be evidence of widely dispersed spinosaurids.  Special mention to our chum Fabio Pastori for a simply stunning Baryonyx drawing.

The magazine has a bit of an “English theme” running through it.  Dinosaur discoveries of southern England are documented in another article, which features the artwork of John Sibbick and there is a well written piece by John Lavas that discusses the impact of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Lost World”, a novel that we are informed has not been out of print since its publication back in 1912.  Bringing things right up to date, our review of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” is featured, a book which documents and catalogues the Dinosauria known from these shores.

Tracy Ford continues his series on how to draw dinosaurs by discussing integumental coverings – feathers, quills and bristles on the Dinosauria.  He makes some excellent points and it is great to see a piece that features one of our favourite dinosaur discoveries of recent times, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus.  This little feathered, plant-eating dinosaur makes another appearance in the Palaeo News section, along with updates on the Spinosaurus quadruped/bidped debate, giant prehistoric birds, a newly described Archaeopteryx specimen and a short report on Dreadnoughtus schrani .  Dreadnoughtus is important as a large number of bones have been found, helping palaeontologists such as Dr. Kenneth Lacovara (Drexel University), to estimate the body mass of this huge Titanosaur.  This dinosaur discovery adds a whole new dimension to body mass estimations using femora radii.  Everything Dinosaur wrote a short article on this discovery, it was favourably commented upon by the scientists behind the research paper and we basked in the glory of being praised by the researchers (for a few days at least).

To read more about “Prehistoric Times” and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Dan LoRusso is interviewed about his work on the Battat “Terra” model range and there is a special feature on the bizarre, sabre-toothed Thylacosmilus.  The “English” theme is re-visited once again with a fascinating article penned by Allen A. Debus which examines the way palaeontology was depicted in the popular press of the 19th Century, the list of references at the end of this article is especially helpful.  Amongst the many other features and news stories is an interview with Todd Miller, the director of the film all about the controversy surrounding the Tyrannosaurus rex named “Sue”, the thirteenth documented T. rex dinosaur discovery hence the film’s title “Dinosaur 13″.  We had the very great pleasure of meeting Pete Larson in London just a few weeks before the film’s August 15th premier.  Pete chatted about the documentary and Everything Dinosaur did some work on behalf of the media company responsible for the distribution of this excellent film in the UK back in the summer.

Ah well, summer may be over but at least we have another super edition of “Prehistoric Times” to keep us occupied over those long autumn evenings.

Autumn Edition of Prehistoric Times

Issue 111 (Autumn 2014) on its Way

The front cover of the next edition of Prehistoric Times depicts a dramatic scene.  A flock of Dromaeosaurs are attacking and over powering an Ornithopod.  We suspect that this is an interpretation of a fossil site whereby the carcases of a number of ferocious dinosaurs called Deinonychus were found in close proximity to the body of a much larger, herbivorous Tenontosaurus.  The scene was created by the highly talented Julius Csotonyi (interview with him in this magazine), it shows a group of Utahraptors overpowering a Hippodraco.  It is a digital painting created in 2013.

Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Autumn 2014)

Prehistoric Times magazine.

Prehistoric Times magazine.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

To read more about Prehistoric Times and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

What a dramatic and beautifully crafted scene depicted on the front cover of the autumn edition.  We note also that the film “Dinosaur 13″ will be discussed, we look forward to reading this article, after all, we had a small role in the pre-publicity with regards to this movie that hit selected cinema screens in August.  There is also an interview with the very talented Julius Csotonyi.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur had the great honour of reviewing Julius’s latest book earlier this year “The Palaeoart of Julius Csotonyi” and what an excellent publication it is to.  On the subject of excellent publications, we are really looking forward to the next edition of Prehistoric Times.

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles” Book Review

Book Review – “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura

Barely a week seems to go by without the announcement of some new dinosaur discovery.  We seem to have become accustomed to media reports highlighting some exciting aspect of the Dinosauria, often from faraway places and remote parts of the world.  Whilst it is always intriguing to hear reports of fossil finds relating to prehistoric animals that once lived in the Arctic Circle or indeed, to see pictures of the newest type of feathered dinosaur identified from north-eastern China, it is worth remembering that dinosaurs, lots of them for that matter, once roamed the British Isles.

Whilst it is highly unlikely that the first dinosaurs evolved in the area of land we now term the United Kingdom (evidence suggests that the very first dinosaurs evolved in the southern hemisphere), the formal scientific study of the fossilised remains of these ancient reptiles was begun in England and the contribution of British scientists to the nascent sciences of geology and palaeontology was immense.   This beautifully illustrated, new publication, sets out to catalogue the dinosaurs of Britain.  Authors Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura provide a comprehensive account of the dinosaurs of the British Isles.  So, if you want to read about meat-eating dinosaurs from Swindon, Stegosaurs from Peterborough and Tyrannosaurs from the Isle of Wight then this book is for you.

Dinosaurs of the British Isles (Front Cover)

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

For further details and to purchase: Siri Scientific Press

This book has been painstakingly researched and prepared.  It has taken something like three years to write and it has been produced with a diverse audience in mind.  Academics and researchers will no doubt find this book an excellent reference.  The general reader with an interest in fossils and history will appreciate the clearly labelled diagrams and concise writing style.  The skilfully created prehistoric scenes by Nobumichi Tamura and James McKay will help to inspire young dinosaur fans eager to learn more about palaeontology.

Vivid Reconstructions Bring British Dinosaurs Back to Life

Many small meat-eating dinosaurs once roamed the British Isles

Many small, meat-eating dinosaurs once roamed the British Isles

Picture Credit: Nobumichi Tamura

Many hundreds of fossil photographs are included, the accompanying notes and labels help to explain the importance of individual specimens and one of the joys of this book, is that it features a large number of fossils that are not on display to the general public.

Author Dean Lomax Preparing to Photograph a Sauropod

Rarely viewed British dinosaur fossils are photographed

Rarely viewed British dinosaur fossils are photographed

Picture Credit: Dean Lomax

A lot of the fossils featured in this book are usually hidden away from view as part of museum collections.  In the picture above, author Dean Lomax can be seen photographing the skeleton of the British Sauropod dinosaur, Cetiosauriscus stewarti at the Natural History Museum, London.

Following a brief foreword from Dr. Paul Barrett and the authors, “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” defines the Dinosauria Order, explains how dinosaurs are classified and summarises the history of research before moving on to discuss how fossils are formed.  Having placed British dinosaurs into context, the rest of the book is dedicated to a chronological cataloguing of the dinosaur fossil finds, taking the reader through the Triassic, Jurassic and culminating in the Late Cretaceous.

Huge Plant-Eating Dinosaurs Once Roamed the British Isles

Helpful tables provide further information and alongside life restorations, scientifically accurate skeletal drawings have been provided.

Helpful tables provide further information and alongside life restorations, scientifically accurate skeletal drawings have been included.

Picture Credit: Nobumichi Tamura and Jamie A. Headden

The book extends to over 400 pages and provides a truly comprehensive account of those members of the Dinosauria whose fossils have been found in the British Isles.  There is even a section on “dinosaur hotspots” and a useful glossary to help explain some of the scientific terms encountered in this book.

Highly recommended.

This book is published by Siri Scientific Press and is available from the website below (worldwide shipping)

For further details and to purchase visit: Dinosaurs of the British Isles

Fossil Insects – Book Review

The Bugs that Plagued the Dinosaurs

Palaeoentomology, this term may not trip off the tongue but bear with us, for thanks to an amazing new book published at the end of this month, a window into an as yet little explored prehistoric world has just been opened.

Fossil Insects – Exploring Ancient Prehistoric Arthropods

Small is beautiful.

Small is beautiful.

Picture Credit: Manchester University Press Office

Palaeoentomology, is really two words combined into one, firstly, there is “palaeo” from the Greek meaning ancient and then we have “entomology”, which relates to the study insects.  Put it together and you have the study of ancient insects and this new publication “Fossil Insects, An Introduction to Palaeoentomology”, combines two essential elements of science into one excellent volume.  Firstly, there is the scientific study and analysis, in this case provided by authors Dr. David Penney and James E. Jepson and secondly, there is the ability to illustrate long extinct creatures and to resurrect them so that the reader can gain an appreciation of the living animal.  The artwork for this book has been provided by Richard Bizley, a British-based artist and scientific illustrator and what a visual treat Richard provides.

Mayflies Mixing with Dinosaurs

A mayfly rests on a primitive flowering plant - a Cretaceous scene.

A mayfly rests on a primitive flowering plant – a Cretaceous scene.

Picture Credit: Richard Bizley Bizley Art

Over the last three decades or so, scientists have begun to learn so much more about ancient insect life.  These small (and not so small), terrestrial Arthropods that scuttled, climbed, burrowed and flew formed an integral component of some of the first complex ecosystems to evolve on land.  New research methods and techniques have been applied, revealing details of the lives and behaviours of insects, assisting palaeontologists as they reconstruct the habitats and climates of pre-history.

It might be surprising to some, especially when how delicate insects seem to be, but insect fossils are relatively common and yet there is so much to learn and discover.  Dr. David Penney from the University of Manchester has drawn on his knowledge of both entomology and palaeontology to provide a guide to the fossil record and this book both informs and educates.

“Fossil Insects” Provides Plenty of Colour Photographs of Stunning Fossils

The first animals to take to the air.

The first animals to take to the air.

Picture Credit: Manchester University Press Release

From a vertebrate palaeontology perspective, insects have a huge advantage when it comes to the fossil record.  As Dr. Penney points out, the Insecta is the most diverse Class in the Kingdom Animalia but more importantly, fossils preserve insect behaviour and activity as well as the insects themselves.  Fossils showing feeding damage on leaves and wood, fecal pellets, parasitic relationships, even evidence of nests have all been preserved, providing palaeoentomologists with a rich catalogue of fossil material to explore.  Dinosaur trace fossils are rather limited in comparison.

Dr. David Penney (Manchester University)

Exploring fossilised insects.

Exploring fossilised insects.

Picture Credit: Manchester University Press Office

Dr. Penney explains:

“Insects are the most diverse group of creatures on the planet today.  Many of them were around even before the time of the dinosaurs.  Bringing together entomology and palaeontology through the study of insect fossils has great potential for revolutionising what we know about both subjects.”

Many insect fossils can be found as inclusions in amber, often as virtually perfect three-dimensional forms.  Amber is fossil tree resin.  Insects and other organisms can become entombed in the sticky resin and fossilised when it hardens into amber.  This book features plenty of stunning photographs that illustrate these miniature time capsules.

Mosquito Preserved in Dominican Amber

A window into an ancient world.

A window into an ancient world.

Picture Credit: Manchester University Press Release

These amazing prehistoric insects have been brought to life in the book through the exquisite illustrations of Richard Bizley.  He depicts long vanished Arthropods in a unique collaboration with the authors.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur had the very great pleasure of meeting up with Richard in his Dorset studio and viewing some of the artwork that was being prepared for inclusion in this book.  Richard’s astonishing eye for detail and scientific accuracy has enabled him to reconstruct prehistoric scenes from seven of the major geological periods, starting with the rise of the insects during the Devonian and continuing through until the Tertiary.

Carboniferous Creepy-Crawlies

By the Carboniferous the insects were already highly diversified.

By the Carboniferous the insects were already highly diversified.

Picture Credit: Richard Bizley Bizley Art

To make the animals in his beautiful paintings look realistic, Richard created models using scientific drawings and pictures of fossil material.  He then carefully photographed them to see how light behaved on his subjects.

Commenting on his role in helping to bring to life prehistoric environments, the artist stated:

“When reconstructing fossil insect species, special attention needs to be paid to important diagnostic features, such as the wing venation patterns and the relative lengths of appendage segments.  The fact that many fossil insect species are known only from isolated wings posed additional problems.  This is where collaboration with experts became very useful and I worked closely with Dr. Penney to produce an accurate reconstruction based on the comparative study of both fossil and living insects.”

This book is recommended for the general reader, those interested in palaeontology as well as entomology.  The term palaeoentomology (pay-lee-oh-en-toe-mol-oh-gee) may not trip of the tongue but “Insect Fossils, An Introduction to Palaeoentomology” does give the general reader a “taste” for this exciting area of scientific research.

“Fossil Insects, An Introduction to Palaeoentomology” by Dr. David Penney and James E. Jepson is published on July 31st 2014 by Siri Scientific Press.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the University of Manchester Press Office in the compilation of this article.

Prehistoric Times Issue 110 Reviewed

A Review of the Summer 2014 Edition of Prehistoric Times Magazine

Featured on the front cover of issue 110 is a fantastic sculpture of an Giganotosaurus by the highly talented prehistoric animal sculptor Galileo Hernandez Nunez and inside the magazine, editor Mike Fredericks conducts an in depth interview with the Mexican artist and some of his amazing work is showcased.  Nice to hear that señor Hernandez loves the English language, his English is obviously much better than our Spanish.  During the interview, what inspires him is discussed as well as his influences and he makes some very interesting points about the future of palaeo-sculpture with the advent of affordable three-dimensional printers.  The theme of 3-D printing is taken up by Mike Eischen in a special feature on digital dinosaurs.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Magazine (110)

Giganotosaurus on the front cover.

Giganotosaurus on the front cover.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Fans of prehistoric snakes will be delighted to hear that Titanoboa (T. cerrejonensis) and other massive serpents are featured in the magazine.

The description of this enormous snake certainly captured imaginations when it was first described over five years ago now.  Phil Hore does a splendid job writing about the multitude of “twenty footers plus” that have left traces of their existence preserved in the fossil record.  Our article on the discovery of Titanoboa remains one of the most popular news stories that we have covered on this blog site.

To read an article on the discovery of Titanoboa: Huge Prehistoric Snake from Columbia

Phil is also responsible for producing the article on the early representative of the Centrosaurine horned dinosaurs “Devil Horned Face” – Diabloceratops and once again the article is very informative and accompanied with lots of reader submitted artwork.  Reports on visits to a number of dinosaur exhibits, museums and attractions are provided including an article about the Der Sauiermuseum in Switzerland, an establishment that we at Everything Dinosaur know very well.

The magazine is also packed full of information for model makers, book reviews and news stories, we especially like the feature by Robert Telleria on dinosaur calendars and the hints and tips on prehistoric dioramas written by Fred M. Snyder.

Once again a very well written and produced magazine for the dinosaur enthusiast.

To learn more about Prehistoric Times and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

To conclude this brief review, we ought to give a special mention to Tracy Lee Ford, who tackles the eye-opening topic of palpebral bones in Ornithischian dinosaurs.  The palpebral is a small bone found in the region of the eye socket in certain groups of animals such as monitor lizards and eagles (Everything Dinosaur team members think crocodilians have them too).  It is also found in the fossil record in marine reptiles and Ornithischian dinosaurs but not as far as we are aware in the Saurischia.  The function of this bone remains a bit of a mystery.  It can be pointed, prong-like or curved and Tracy Lee Ford covers how this anatomical feature would alter the appearance of a dinosaur such as an iguanodontid.  Dinosaurs with scowls and fierce looking expressions indeed.

Prehistoric Times Next Issue out Soon

Prehistoric Times Issue 110

The next issue of Prehistoric Times, the quarterly magazine for dinosaur fans and model enthusiasts is out shortly.  Mike Fredericks (editor) sent team members a sneak preview of the magazine’s front cover.

Prehistoric Times (Summer 2014)

Next issue out soon.

Next issue out soon.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

How time flies, it does not seem that long since we were celebrating issue 100.  The dinosaur featured on the front cover is “giant southern lizard” – Giganotosaurus (Giganotosaurus carolini).  This is a wonderful sculpture by the highly talented Galileo Hernandez of Mexico.  An interview with the artist is included in this edition.  We are also expecting a review of the new book written by Julius Csotonyi and Steve White entitled “The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi”, can’t wait for the magazine to arrive at the Everything Dinosaur offices.

To visit the Prehistoric Times website: Visit Prehistoric Times

Once team members have received their copy and read it a review will be posted up on our blog.

The Dinosaur Four – Summer Reading

Fiction for Older Dinosaur Fans

Everything Dinosaur team members undertake a lot of work with students who are in the formal education system.   Part of our focus, particularly with primary schools, is to help teachers by encouraging children to write about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  We are keen to see the children’s creative writing and yesterday, we wrote a short blog article about the letters received from a Key Stage 1 class in Lancashire.  However, in the United Kingdom many adults struggle with reading and writing.  The National Literacy Trust has reported that about five percent of adults in England have literacy levels below those expected of a child aged eleven.  That is something like 1.7 million adults.

We do what we can to encourage adults to read more, the mums and dads that we meet on our travels, when team members are working in museums and other institutions.  One of the best ways to get back into reading, to gain more confidence as a reader and to increase your vocabulary is to read books which relate to your hobbies and interests.  Over the weekend, we heard about a new novel written with the science fiction/dinosaur enthusiast in mind, the book is called “The Dinosaur Four”, written by Colorado based Geoff Jones.

 The Front Cover “The Dinosaur Four”

The Dinosaur Four

The Dinosaur Four

Picture Credit: Geoff Jones

Colorado is a great place for a writer of dinosaur themed novels to come from, after all, the state fossil of Colorado is Stegosaurus!  This book has already attracted a number of very positive reviews:

A vivid journey through time!

“If you are looking for a good book for the summer, look no further!  Going back in time with this ensemble cast was a thrilling and visceral adventure.  I highly recommend digging your teeth into this tasty novel.”

Dino-tastic!

“I loved this book.  It was exactly what a book about dinosaurs should be: a fast paced adventure that’s exciting and smart.  I enjoyed the characters almost as much as I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the dinosaurs they encountered.  Highly recommended.”

The book has been described as a Stephen King-style science fiction thriller and it tells the dramatic story of ten ordinary folk who find themselves transported back some sixty-six million years to the Late Cretaceous.

In the notes we received, the plot is briefly outlined..

Business is brisk at the Daily Edition Cafe as Tim MacGregor arrives to meet his new girlfriend.  Two joggers enjoy a hit of caffeine before work.  A delivery man takes a break from his route.  Behind the counter, the baristas are busy brewing, frothing, and pouring.  However, on this morning, the cafe and the people inside are suddenly transported millions of years into the past.

Ten strangers find themselves in the world of Triceratops horridus and Tyrannosaurus rex.  Three survivors compete for leadership of the group, while another plots to keep them all in the past. Tim only wants to find out what caused the disaster and how to get home.

With a background in the video game industry and with a degree in creative writing from the University of Colorado, Geoff’s debut novel “The Dinosaur Four” is described as a fast-paced action-adventure mixed with carnage and suspense in the tradition of Jaws, the Mist and Jurassic Park.  For those grown-ups getting their prehistoric animal fix with the movie Godzilla, but who can’t wait for Jurassic World to come out next year, this book might be just what they need to fill the gap.

Triceratops horridus – features in “The Dinosaur Four”

Bringing "three horned face" to life.

Bringing “three horned face” to life.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

As the summer holidays approach, perhaps this is one book that dinosaur fans might want to consider adding to their reading list.

To learn more about the book and where it can be purchased, visit the authors website: Geoff Jones Writer

A word of warning though, this novel deals with adult themes, it is not suitable for children.

The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi Reviewed

A Review of “The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi”

Julius Csotonyi is one of those rare breed of scientific illustrators who is able to combine anatomical accuracy and scientific detail with vivid imagination and a flare for the digital medium.  His artwork has graced a number of natural history museums around the world, his pictures helping to inform, educate and inspire.  Titan Books has just published a hardback book which gives dinosaur fans and general readers alike the opportunity to learn more about this artist, how he works and to view a collection of some of the stunning images that he has created since his hobby turned into a full-time profession.

Launched this Week – “The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi”

The front cover of this new hardback book.

The front cover of this new hardback book.

Picture Credit: Titan Books/Julius Csotonyi

Co-written by Steve White, the book showcases the drawings and digital artwork of Julius Csotonyi.  Visitors to the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Alberta, Canada), the Houston Museum of Natural Science or indeed to the newly refurbished Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will already be familiar with a lot of Julius’s work as he has been commissioned to create murals and back drops for a number of exhibits in these museums.  However, the lighting in many galleries is quite poor and this book permits the viewer to appreciate the craft of the palaeoartist in glorious colour.

There is a brief foreward written by Dr. David Evans (Royal Ontario Museum, Canada), which helps to set the artwork in context.  With a doctorate in microbiology and as a pioneer in merging true-life photography with digital images, Julius has been able to bring a unique set of skills to the drawing board of scientific illustration.  The equally eminent Dr. Bob Bakker chips in to explain how images are created using a meticulous study of fossil data and a case study is provided focusing on how the diet of Dimetrodonts was interpreted.

Creating Images from the Fossil Evidence

Permian scene (Texas Red Beds)

Permian scene (Texas Red Beds)

Picture Credit: Titan Books/Houston Museum of Natural History/Julius Csotonyi

An ” In Conversation” piece follows, an in depth interview which discusses early influences, outlines the creative process and explores aspects of Julius’s work.  There are also some handy tips and advice on hand for budding artists trying to break into the field of palaeontological illustration.  The rest of the book, the vast majority of the 156 pages or so, showcases the artwork and illustrations.  The images are laid out by geological Era, starting with the Palaeozoic, the Mesozoic follows and then comes the Cenozoic.  By far the largest portion of the book is dedicated to illustrations of Mesozoic fauna and flora and much of this features the Dinosauria, so dinosaur fans will have plenty to view.

Bringing the Early Permian to Life

An early Permian landscape.

An early Permian landscape.

Picture Credit: Titan Books/Commission: Gondwana Studios/Julius Csotonyi

 Brief notes accompany the illustrations helping to provide context and to explain what is being depicted. One small criticism, there is not much of a key for the casual reader to help them interpret what is being shown.  A simplified drawing with a number key would help point out some of the subtle nuances depicted and assist with the identification of the various prehistoric animals and plants that make up the scene.

Fantastic Dinosaur Illustrations

Bringing "three horned face" to life.

Bringing “three horned face” to life.

Picture Credit: Titan Books/College of Charleston/Julius Csotonyi

Throughout the book, there are short sections that focus on how one individual animal or group of animals are depicted.  For example, information is provided on how Tiktaalik, a fish that possessed anatomical characteristics that link it to the first Tetrapods, was illustrated, more detail is provided on how a Utahraptor assemblage was interpreted and there is a special feature on the early Chinese Tyrannosaur known as Guanlong.  However, the real stars are the artwork and imagery, credit to the publishers here for reproducing the pictures in such high quality.

Plenty of Illustrations of Theropod Dinosaurs Too

Tyrannosaurs on the beach.

Tyrannosaurs on the beach.

Picture Credit: Titan Books/Julius Csotonyi

In the picture above, a pair of Tyrannosaurs (Lythronax argestes) inspect the carcase of a large prehistoric shark (Squalicorax), whilst two enantiornithine birds hope to pick up some scraps.  Many of the illustrations included in this book had been commissioned to help publicise news stories featuring recent fossil discoveries to the general media.

A spokes person from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“As well as commissions for various exhibits at natural history museums, this book contains a number of scientific illustrations that had been specifically commissioned for use in press releases in order to help boost public awareness of recent fossil discoveries.  Julius has a rare talent for helping to put flesh on bones and bring back from the dead ancient, extinct creatures.  He portrays long disappeared environments in an imaginative way and through his work he is helping to inform and inspire the next generation of scientists.”

Newly Described Pachycephalosaur (A. audeti)

Acrotholus audeti disturbs a freshwater turtle (Neurankylus lithographicus) which had been soaking in a dinosaur footprint.

Acrotholus audeti disturbs a freshwater turtle (Neurankylus lithographicus) which had been soaking in a dinosaur footprint.

Picture Credit: Titan Books/Evans et al/Julius Csotonyi

This book may be divided up into sections based on geological Eras, but within each section the illustrations themselves are not shown in geological time scale order.  For example, a mural showing the environment from the Campanian faunal stage as represented by the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation of Canada, precedes illustrations on the armoured dinosaur Sauropelta and the Early Jurassic Pterosaur Dimorphodon.  For fans of the age of mammals, the book concludes with a number of illustrations depicting fauna and flora of the Cenozoic, from Sabre-toothed cats to Arctic camels.

The Prehistoric Whale Dorudon Cruises into View

Digital painting and photographic composite showing Dorudon.

Digital painting and photographic composite showing Dorudon.

Picture Credit: Titan Books/Look at Sciences/Julius Csotonyi

There is a useful, but short glossary at the back of the book along with a geological time scale.  Putting aside the fact that this book has utilised the American spelling for a number of terms, not surprising really given the focus on artwork from North America and Julius’s Canadian nationality, this makes an excellent addition to a dinosaur fan or general reader’s book collection.

Highly recommended.

Staypressed theme by Themocracy