Category: Book Reviews

Prehistoric Times (Spring 2016) Reviewed

A Review of Issue 117 of Prehistoric Times Magazine

First into the office this morning and it has benefits, pick of the biscuits and a chance to read the latest edition of Prehistoric Times magazine (spring 2016), that arrived over the weekend and what a jam-packed, splendid edition it is.  The front cover features Carnotaurus artwork by Kurt Miller which dovetails nicely into an informative feature on this, perhaps the most famous of the abelisaurids, by the talented Phil Hore.  Phil begins his article with a short fantasy piece before providing a detailed biography of this long-legged hunter from South America.  The article is illustrated with copious amounts of reader submitted artwork.  As Prehistoric Times editor, Mike Fredericks freely admits, he was somewhat overwhelmed by the number of Carnotaurus illustrations he received for this issue.  It’s hard to pick a personal favourite, Todd Mills gave his Carnotaurus a bright yellow throat pouch, whilst Ashli Lenox’s drawing was very reminiscent of the Papo Carnotaurus replica – all great stuff.  A special mention goes to Wade Carmen for providing a beautiful illustration of the skull of this Late Cretaceous predator.

Carnotaurus Artwork by Californian Artist Kurt Miller on the Front Cover of Issue 117

The front cover of the next edition of "Prehistoric Times" magazine.

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Paying Tribute to Zdeněk Burian

Weaving its way through issue 117, like the ossified tendons associated with caudal vertebrae on a Edmontosaurus, is a super article all about the ground-breaking palaeoartist Zdeněk Burian.  John R. Lavas, the writer, has provided a comprehensive guide to this famous Czech painter’s legacy and of course there are lots and lots of examples of his spectacular artwork.  Tracy Lee Ford gives budding artists a bit of head’s up in the second part of his thought-provoking feature regarding how to illustrate feathered dinosaurs.  Readers of this quarterly magazine might remember that in issue 116 Tracy called for a curtailing on the amount of feathered dinosaur drawings being produced, this time, the focus is on feathered Theropods and how to interpret fossil feather impressions.  The article concludes with some well drawn sketches including an interpretation of the recently described Dakotaraptor steini.

To read more about the discovery of this new, very large Maniraptoran dinosaur: Dakotaraptor – A Giant Raptor and Niche Partitioning

Phil Hore’s other major contribution to the spring edition is to provide the text on the Bear Dogs (Amphicyonidae), a family of geographically diverse carnivores that early hominids would have done well to avoid.  Some great reader submitted artwork once again, including the rather cute image sent in by David Hicks of one of these apex predators taking an interest in a butterfly.  Phil’s debut novel gets a mention.  “The Order of the Dragon”, the first in the bloodline, gothic fantasy trilogy and a jolly good read it is too.  For a review of “The Order of the Dragon”: The Order of the Dragon Book Review

 Mesozoic Media Section Features “Tracks in Deep Time”

"Tracks in Deep Time" features in a Mesozoic media review.

“Tracks in Deep Time” features in a Mesozoic media review.

Picture Credit:  H. K. Luterman of Cedar City, Utah

Lots of new books get reviewed including Tracy Lee Ford’s first fiction novel (did he get the idea from co-contributor to Prehistoric Times, Phil Hore we wonder)?  There is also the chance to learn a little about a newly published textbook all about the amazing trace fossils from the St George Dinosaur Discovery Site (Utah).   Look out also for a tour of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, fossil news stories and more reader art, in what is a very full edition.

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

Cherilea – The First All-British Dinosaur Toy Range

Last but not least, a quick mention of the three-page spread dedicated to the Cherilea range of prehistoric animal models, a range that can claim to be Britain’s first dinosaur set.  In production, as far back as the late 1950’s, author and model dinosaur Anthony Beeson pays tribute to these trail blazers.

Preview of Prehistoric Times (Spring 2016)

Prehistoric Times Magazine Previewed

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are looking forward to receiving the next edition of the quarterly magazine ” Prehistoric Times”.  Issue 117 (spring 2016), is due to arrive in the next couple of weeks or so and what an exciting edition this promises to be.  The two featured prehistoric creatures Carnotaurus and the enigmatic “Bear Dogs” are amongst our favourite prehistoric animals preserved in the fossil record, we expect it to be jam-packed with lots of amazing reader submitted artwork showcasing “meat-eating bull” and all things Amphicyonidae – the correct term for the “Bear Dog” taxonomic family.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times – Spring 2016

The front cover of the next edition of "Prehistoric Times" magazine.

The front cover of the next edition of “Prehistoric Times” magazine.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks (Prehistoric Times)

For further information on Prehistoric Times and to subscribe to this magazine: Visit Prehistoric Times Website

Inside, readers will find updates on dinosaur and other fossil discoveries, reviews of the latest dinosaur books, plus an interview with American freelance researcher, author and illustrator Greg Paul.   On the subject of great artists, issue 117 will conclude the special two-part feature on Zdeněk Burian, a man regarded by many as one of the pioneers of modern palaeoart.  Don’t forget to check out Tracy L. Ford’s amazing article on feathered members of the Dinosauria, it’s bound to be compulsive reading.

Also a Digital Magazine

Prehistoric Times is also available as a digital download for your favourite mobile device.  Handy dinosaurs downloaded to your phone, laptop, tablet etc.

Amongst the book reviews, new prehistoric animal models and model making tips there will be a special feature on the the Philadelphia Museum of Natural Science, so much is crammed into the sixty or so pages it’s like looking at an over stuffed vertebrate collections draw at the Natural History Museum.

The spring edition of Prehistoric Times magazine should be with us in a few days, we can’t wait, bags I get first read!

“The Order of the Dragon” Book Review

“The Order of the Dragon” Reviewed

To fans of all things Dinosauria, Phil Hore, may be best known for his almost decade long contribution to the “Prehistoric Times” magazine, but this talented writer, science enthusiast and educator has many strings to his writing bow.  Take for example, his first venture into writing a novel, “The Order of the Dragon”, a fast-paced and carefully crafted gothic horror that succeeds in weaving together real lives and real events with a twist of macabre fantasy.

Set in London in 1888, the reader is teased throughout by the skilful writing of the author.  Details of the principal characters, the enigmatic and worldly wise Amun Galeus and his hulking, comrade-in-arms Sebastian Vulk are slowly revealed as the story progresses, just enough information to intrigue and tantalise.  Clearly there is more to these two characters than first appears.  Our pair of protagonists are called upon to solve the mysterious and unsettling series of events taking place in and around the grounds of Stamford House in the borough of Islington.   Not wanting to deprive readers of the pleasures in discovering the first of the bloodline trilogy for themselves, suffice to say the story is interlaced with such luminaries as Bram Stoker, Winston Churchill, Conan Doyle and Frederick Abberline (Chief Inspector for the London Metropolitan Police) and his own nightmarish nemesis “Jack the Ripper”.

The Order of the Dragon by Phil Hore

Pulp horror at its best.

Pulp horror at its best.

Picture Credit: Raven’s Head Press

 Thrills, Spills and Chills

Can the gentle folk of England be saved from the supernatural Order of the Dragon and the evil that they command?  The story soon picks up pace and moves breathlessly from one dangerous encounter to another, if battling vampires ticks your literary box then seek out this exciting debut.  There are more sword fights than you can shake a sabre at, the body count rises rapidly and leads to an underground lair via a Victorian greenhouse and a railway constructed merely for the convenience of the dead.

To purchase the “Order of the Dragon” by Phil Hore (Raven’s Head Press): Buy on Amazon

The Author Phil Hore

Fast-paced pulp horror story that cleverly weaves fact and fantasy.

Fast-paced pulp horror story that cleverly weaves fact and fantasy.

Picture Credit: Raven’s Head Press

Australian Phil Hore, demonstrates considerable panache and flair as he combines his encyclopaedic knowledge of 19th Century affairs with gruesome and ghastly happenings, enough to satisfy the blood lust cravings of even the most avid fan of this genre.  We salute the way in which the author has utilised historical fact to build and blend together a story that whets the appetite for the other two books that will develop and then conclude the bloodline trilogy.

Recommended.

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

Practical Career Advice for Fossil Fans

One of the most frequently asked questions sent into us is how do you go about getting a job as a palaeontologist?  We provide what information and support we can to budding fossil experts (and their mums and dads), but thankfully, assistance is at hand with the publication of this helpful and most informative guide on how to develop a career in palaeontology.  Author Dr. David Penney, dissects his more than twenty years of experience in this scientific field and provides an overview of the type of career paths, those who have a love of fossils and all things prehistoric might want to consider.

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

Practical advice and guidance.

Practical advice and guidance.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Always put a scale on your photographs!  The book is full of tips and advice on how to stand out from other potential job applicants, whether it is as a professional fossil dealer or a scientific illustrator (palaeoartist).

This well written publication defines palaeontology before setting out the various roles and activities that palaeontologists undertake.  Dr. David Penney, expertly guides the reader through the wide variety of career options that the science now offers.  He covers the work of palaeontologists in museum related roles as well as providing a comprehensive overview of more academic focused avenues, whether as a researcher, a lecturer or a field technician.

For further information and to purchase an advance copy of this wonderful book: Visit Siri Scientific Press

Illustrated with some lovely colour plates, including some insightful behind the scenes photographs, the main section of the book is dedicated to exploring the various and very diverse jobs that someone with an interest in fossils might want to consider.  There is helpful advice on obtaining qualifications, as well as some words of encouragement for those of us who spend our time blogging about palaeontology and fossil discoveries.

If you are searching for a book which outlines a history of fossil research, then look elsewhere, but if you really want a practical and sensible walk through of the career possibilities linked to this fascinating aspect of science, then “So you want to be a palaeontologist?” is a must have for your book shelf.

The book is not aimed at younger readers, but it has been written for a very broad audience.  Students, hobby fossil collectors, writers, artists and those interested in a career in science education would do well to get hold of a copy.  Everything Dinosaur recommends this publication in particular to mums, dads, grandparents and guardians of primary school children who are expressing an interest in science and palaeontology.

For advance copies of “So you want to be a palaeontologist?”: Siri Scientific Press Website

Commenting on the book a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“This is a must have for anyone seriously contemplating working in palaeontology.  It also makes a great gift for anyone who is considering aspiring to be amongst the next generation of palaeontologists, or indeed for the enthusiastic fossil collector who would like to become more involved with this fascinating area of science.”

Sneak Peak – Prehistoric Times Issue 116

Looking Forward to Prehistoric Times (Winter 2016)

A new year and we resolve to keep reading the excellent “Prehistoric Times” – the magazine for dinosaur fans, those who appreciate prehistoric animals and a must read for dinosaur model collectors.  Editor Mike Fredericks sent us over a picture of the front cover showing a wonderful Kentrosaurus, our copy will no doubt, soon be arriving at the Everything Dinosaur offices and there will be the usual squabbles as to who gets to read it first, honestly we behave like a pack of “raptors” over a kill when it comes to wanting to get our claws on the latest edition of this quarterly.

Coming to our Mailbox Very Soon – Prehistoric Times Issue 116

The front cover from Prehistoric Times (issue 116)

The front cover from Prehistoric Times (issue 116)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

For further information on Prehistoric Times and how to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

The Kentrosaurus figure is posed against a background that looks very familiar to us.  Could that be the Stegosaurus/Allosaurus ravine first seen in the ground-breaking BBC documentary series “Walking with Dinosaurs” (episode two “Time of the Titans”)?

Expect to find more illustrations and information about this particularly spiky member of the Thyreophora inside, along with a feature about a feathered giant, not a Tyrannosaur on this occasion, the extinct creature in question was definitely a member of the Aves.

Mike Frederick tells us that there is quite a considerable British influence on issue 116.  Our chums Anthony Beeson and Mike Howgate have both contributed.  If you ever want an unconventional tour of London then Mike’s your man!

Make it your New Year’s resolution to subscribe.

Prehistoric Times Issue 115 Reviewed

Prehistoric Times (Autumn 2015) Reviewed

The weekend has arrived and a chance to catch up with our reading.  First on our list is to browse through the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for fans of dinosaurs, artwork and prehistoric animal models and what a super edition issue 115 is.  The Autumn 2015 copy of this quarterly publication features a fantastic, in-depth article on the making of the video game called “Saurian”.  The creators of this stunning game explain their reasons for basing the concept on the fauna and flora of the famous Hell Creek Formation of the United States.  Players of the game will get the chance to play a number of different animals, including the role of a herbivore and a potential prey item – Pachycephalosaurus.  On the subject of “bone heads”, Pachycephalosaurus is one of the highlighted prehistoric animals in the magazine and in a carefully crafted article, writer Phil Hore explains the history of “The Megatherium Club” and tells the story of some of this society’s more famous and notorious members.  The Smithsonian Institute will never be seen in the same light again!  Look out for some splendid Pachycephalosaur inspired artwork sent in by readers.

The Front Cover of Issue 115 of Prehistoric Times

Jorge Blanco painted the front cover (Deinotherium)

Jorge Blanco painted the front cover (Deinotherium)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The second prehistoric animal the magazine sets its sights on is Deinotherium and once again Phil Hore provides a very informative article.  More wonderful artwork is included to illustrate this piece.  Look out for the detailed line drawing by British artist John Sibbick as well as David Hicks interpretation of a Deinotherium calf being rescued.  Notable mentions go to John Goodier and our good friend Patrick Krol Padilha.  There is also a photograph of an amazing sculpture created by Jim Martinez.

Editor Mike Fredericks, takes time out to give Everything Dinosaur a mention, our customer service and attention to detail have helped Everything Dinosaur to become a global player in the dinosaur models market and 2015 marks our tenth anniversary!

Everything Dinosaur Praised in Prestigious Magazine

Mentioned in dispatches!

Mentioned in dispatches!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tracy Lee Ford provides further information on his poster presentation for the annual Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology conference (held in Dallas, Texas), the controversial area of how to tackle the “lips” of Theropods.  Lots of analysis, clever illustrations and comparative drawings to get your teeth into (no pun intended).  When done sir, we now have an article as reference material which covers fossae, lizard skull morphology as well as the smooth textured skull bones of Ornithischians.

Dinosaur Collector News

Randy Knol gives us an overview of new model releases and we note the “bootleg” Papo Archaeopteryx information that he kindly discusses, it is certainly a case of buyer beware!  For those collectors interested in what is coming out in 2016, keep checking Everything Dinosaur’s blog site and our Facebook page: Everything Dinosaur on Facebook we have not finished publishing all our exclusive “first peeks” at what models are due out next year.

Our chum, Anthony Beeson, continues to chronicle the history of the classic Invicta models and delivers a very informative and beautifully illustrated article all about the different variants that were manufactured.  The guide to base marks and the years of production is most enlightening.

From Britain to Brazil with an article submitted by Sergio Luis Fica Biston all about the Sauropods that once roamed the largest country in South America.  The editor, Mike Fredericks gets in on the action with a review of new replicas and resin casts, there is a section dedicated to a number of fossil and palaeontology news stories and look out for review of “How to Clone a Mammoth” by the very talented Beth Shapiro in the Mesozoic media section.  Beth very kindly sent an inspection copy of this super book to Everything Dinosaur about six months ago when it first came out.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of “How to Clone a Mammoth”: How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro

Look out for the article on visiting the “Dino Hotel” and we are delighted to see Jan Harrison’s article all about building up the Pegasus T. rex and Triceratops kits.  We know these kits very well, Everything Dinosaur is the exclusive seller in the UK and our next shipment is due in early next week, which makes us swish our dinosaur tails in excitement!

Vote for Your Favourites!

It is that time of year again, when if readers can tear themselves away from the magazine, they are asked to vote for their favourite prehistoric animal model kit of 2015, the best animal toy figure, favourite dinosaur book and most impressive prehistoric animal discovery – subscribe to Prehistoric Times and join in the fun.

For further information on Prehistoric Times and to enquire about subscriptions: Prehistoric Times Magazine

It really is “Dinotastic”!

Dinosaur Books for Christmas

Dinosaurs of the British Isles – Dinosaur Book for Christmas

Having discussed a book dedicated to the fascinating story of a group of armoured dinosaurs, the Polacanthidae, yesterday, “British Polacanthid Dinosaurs”, published by Siri Scientific Press, our attention now turns to a book all about dinosaurs from the same publishers that would make an ideal Christmas gift for the general reader.

The remarkable polacanthids are covered along with some one hundred other species in the book “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”, written by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.

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

This beautifully illustrated publication provides a comprehensive audit of all the dinosaurs known from the British Isles.  It maps out (literally), where dinosaur fossil discoveries have been made and puts these fossil finds into context with regards to their importance in the history of studies related to the Dinosauria.  The information has been lovingly compiled and the authors summarise what is known about the history of every dinosaur species discovered up to its publication date (2014).  Within the 400 or so pages, there are hundreds of photographs of fossils, many of which are not on display to the general public.  These pictures are supported by easy to understand text, supplementary illustrations and highly detailed skeletal drawings.

To order a copy, visit: Siri Scientific Press

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of this book: A Review of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles” has received rave reviews being described as “fantastic” and as “a vitally important book for any UK dino enthusiast”.

The book is a truly unique account of British dinosaur discoveries and it will be of interest to the general reader as well as fans of dinosaurs and senior academics.  Dean has been busy this year, there was a two-part television documentary that aired in the late summer which provided more information on dinosaurs from Britain.  In addition, Dean has embarked on a very hectic public speaking tour.  Dean’s work is already inspiring this country’s future palaeontologists and if you want to help the next generation to grasp the significance of Britain when it comes to the Dinosauria, then “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” is a great way to start.

Highly recommended as a Christmas gift.

British Polacanthid Dinosaurs – Book Review

A Review of the Book “British Polacanthid Dinosaurs”

There is a group of enigmatic armoured dinosaurs that are not likely to appear in the second instalment of “Jurassic World” scheduled to arrive in cinemas in two years time, Sir David Attenborough will not be dedicating a television documentary to them any time soon, these prehistoric animals are not well known by the general public, but to anyone with an interest in palaeontology and dinosaurs in particular, the polacanthids are perhaps some of the most fascinating and mysterious vertebrates ever to evolve.  These plant-eating dinosaurs are the subject of a new book written by Dr. William T. Blows and published by Siri Scientific Press and it brings research on the Polacanthidae right up to date.

British Polacanthid Dinosaurs – 150 Years of Armoured Dinosaur History and Research

Written by William T. Blows.

Written by William T. Blows.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

To order a copy of this excellent book: British Polacanthid Dinosaurs Available from Siri Scientific Press

 The fossils of polacanthid dinosaurs have been found in Lower Cretaceous strata from the UK, Germany and Spain, as well as Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous aged strata from the USA.  A number of different genera have been identified, but apart from a couple of notable exceptions (Gargoyleosaurus and Gastonia from the United States), fossil material associated with these reptiles is relatively incomplete.  Dr. Blows takes the reader on a journey of exploration starting with a thoughtfully written general overview of the armoured dinosaurs and where the polacanthids fit in to the dinosaur family tree, before moving on to provide a history of armoured dinosaur discoveries from England.

Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura did much to raise the profile of British dinosaurs in the excellent “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” (which is also available from Siri Scientific Press), but it still might take the general reader by surprise to discover that 130 million years ago, large, spiky behemoths roamed around what was to become Sussex and the Isle of Wight.  With a nod in the direction towards the more complete polacanthid remains from the likes of the mysteriously named Yellow Cat Member of the Lower Cedar Mountain Formation (eastern Utah), this group of dinosaurs are very much associated with Britain and specifically southern England.

An Illustration of a Typical Polacanthid Dinosaur

A drawing of the heavily armoured polacanthid Gastonia.

A drawing of the heavily armoured polacanthid Gastonia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Well-Crafted Dinosaur Book

From the very first page through to the comprehensive reference and index section, this book has obviously been a labour of love.  Dr. Blows imparts a tremendous amount of information, but his writing style enables the general reader to follow and to appreciate the significance of the points being made.  Having provided an overview of the history of armoured dinosaur discovery in England, and it is 150 years since the genus Polacanthus was erected, the author then dedicates individual chapters to documenting the fossil evidence for different parts of the body of polacanthids.  Starting with the skull, Dr. Blows documents the evidence helping the reader to gain an insight into how our knowledge regarding these quadrupeds has changed.  The longest chapter in this section of the book is dedicated to the dermal bones, that amour that unites all the Thyreophoran dinosaurs (Stegosaurs, Ankylosaurs, Nodosaurs and of course the Polacanthidae).  These dinosaurs literally bristled with amour, spikes, scutes, osteoderms, bony extrusions and of course, that bizarre structure – the sacral shield.  The pelvis and lower back of Polacanthus was protected by a bony shield, that in the best preserved specimen is over ten millimetres thick and more than one metre square in size.  This anatomical feature is unique to the polacanthids and along with the ferocious spikes that even ran down to the tip of the tail, they would have acted as a formidable deterrent against attack from a meat-eating dinosaur.

The Amazing Sacral Shield of Polacanthus (P. foxii)

Dorsal view (top down) of the sacral shield of Polacanthus.

Dorsal view (top down) of the sacral shield of Polacanthus.

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum with annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Worldwide Polacanthidae

Later chapters are dedicated to polacanthid fossil finds from outside the British Isles and tie in with the evolutionary origins of these dinosaurs (sometime in the Jurassic).  This provides an opportunity to view some excellent pictures of mounted specimens, dinosaurs such as Mymoorapelta and Gastonia.  The final chapter brings the reader right up to date and proposes a new taxon for the dinosaur previously known as Polacanthus rudgwickensis.  Dr. Blows carefully lays out the evidence and proposes a revision of the fossil material collected from a brickworks close to the village of Rudgwick, Sussex.  The fossils represent an individual, one that was almost a third as big again as Polacanthus foxii.  In addition, the bones represent a much more robust and stocky animal, this has led to the establishment of a new taxon, the town of Horsham, close to the original fossil finds, has its very own dinosaur – Horshamosaurus.  These Polacanthus fossils were originally studied by Dr. Blows, he concludes his book by taking the reader through the steps that led to a revision of the evidence and the establishment of the newest genus to be added to the Polacanthidae.

Nearly 200 Tables, Diagrams and Beautiful Full Colour Pictures in the Book

The book features lots of colour plates showing Polacanthus fossil material.

The book features lots of colour plates showing Polacanthus fossil material.

Picture Credit: Sir Scientific Press

All in all this is an excellent book, ideal as a Christmas gift for the anyone with an interest in fossils, especially those from the British Isles.

Highly recommended.

To order a copy and for further details on “British Polacanthid Dinosaurs” visit: Siri Scientific Press

Great British Regional Museums

We are fortunate in this country to have some amazing regional museums.  The residents of Bexhill in East Sussex might be quite surprised to learn that some spines, osteoderms and other elements representing dermal armour from a Polacanthus were found close to their town.  Photographs of these fossils are included in the book.  These form part of the Bexhill Museum dinosaur fossil collection.  We are so lucky to have such wonderful local museums run by dedicated and enthusiastic staff, we would recommend a visit to Bexhill Museum (Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex).

For further information on Bexhill Museum: Visit Bexhill Museum

To read more about Horshamosaurus: A New British Dinosaur is Announced

Snippets of Dinosaur Information

Digging for Nuggets of Dinosaur Data

The book entitled “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries”, written by Darren Naish, may have come out in 2009, but it remains a firm favourite amongst Everything Dinosaur team members.  The illustrations may be a little out of date, if we recall correctly, the author himself points this out.  However, they do not undermine what is in essence a terrific read.  One of the great things about this book is that Darren throws in little snippets of dinosaur information every now and then that other writers would simply overlook or indeed not be aware of in the first place.  If you want to know exactly, why the name of the armoured dinosaur Scelidosaurus (S. harrisonii) means “limb lizard”?  Read this book as Darren provides the answer.

An Excellent Book about Dinosaurs

Aimed at young readers as well as older, general readers.

Aimed at young readers as well as older, general readers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For an insight into the hand function of Deinocheirus (D. mirificus), turn to page ninety-nine.  An intriguing paragraph explaining the viewpoints put forward in the early 20th Century concerning those huge arms and hands of this Asian Theropod.

For the latest interpretation: Deinocheirus Done and Dusted For Now at Least

At the beginning of each chapter, as Darren charts the history of dinosaur discoveries, there is a handy timeline that shows the major fossil finds and scientific descriptions .  In addition, a world map is provided identifying the location of where the fossilised bones and trace fossils were found.

As you would expect, all the major dinosaur groups are featured, as are a number of the more obscure ones such as the Alvarezsauridae and the Scansoriopterygidae.  If you want to gain an understanding of why the idea of Sauropods being aquatic animals took hold and remained prevalent until quite recently, then turn to page thirty-one.

This really is an excellent read.  It is a  is a super book full of amazing dinosaur facts. Highly recommended.

My Changing Polacanthus

In Praise of the Polacanthids

Not the best known of all the armoured dinosaurs perhaps, that accolade goes to the likes of Stegosaurus, or even Ankylosaurus, but the often overlooked Polacanthus is one of those prehistoric animals afforded great affection amongst many palaeontologists, fossil collectors and dinosaur fans alike.  After all, Hylaeosaurus, suspected as being a member of the Polacanthidae, was the third dinosaur to be named and described, in fact Hylaeosaurus (H.armatus) was named in 1833, several years before Richard Owen erected the Dinosauria.

The Polacanthids are being given more of the limelight as a new book all about these dinosaurs has been published by Siri Scientific Press.

More Makeovers than Most – the Polacanthidae

Lizard-like, cold-blooded with round, conical and upward pointing armoured spikes.

Lizard-like, cold-blooded with round, conical and upward pointing armoured spikes.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This new book, entitled “British Polacanthid Dinosaurs” has been written by retired university lecturer, William T. Blows and very informative it is too.  Everything Dinosaur team members will produce a more complete review of this new publication in the near future but for the moment there is just time to reflect on the changing views regarding the Polacanthidae that have taken place.  Early interpretations of this armoured dinosaur, envisaged it as a slow-moving, cumbersome, squat animal which was very much cold-blooded and lizard-like.  However, over the last three decades or so our perceptions have changed.  Gone are the giant toad-like features, the conical horns that point upwards and that heavy, dragging tail.  The polacanthid makeover is illustrated on the front cover of this hardback.  The more modern interpretation created by renowned British artist John Sibbick is in stark contrast to the picture of Polacanthus below.  It is worth remembering that the second illustration comes from a series of images commissioned by the Natural History Museum (London) and created by artist Neave Parker back in the 1950’s.  This impression of Polacanthus held sway into the early 1990’s.

British Polacanthid Dinosaurs (Front Cover Illustrations)

The front cover of the book all about British Polacanthids

The changing appearance of the Polacanthidae.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

For further information about this excellent book and to purchase a copy: Siri Scientific Press

The reformation of Polacanthus began to gain wider appreciation when it was featured in the ground-breaking television series “Walking with Dinosaurs” made by the BBC and first aired back in 1999.  In episode four, which was called “Beneath a Giant’s Wings”, the landscape of Europe 127 million years ago was featured.  In one memorable scene, a solitary Polacanthus is tagging along with a herd of Iguanodons.  It seems that the team behind these programmes could not quite make up their minds about how Polacanthus should look.  Its tail is lifted off the ground, although it does slope downwards and most of those conical spikes have gone.  The limbs are held more directly beneath the body but this dinosaur is depicted as a solitary creature, one that did not live in herds (or flocks), unlike the more social (and therefore more interesting to the viewers), Iguanodonts.  In the book that accompanied this series, Polacanthus does get mention, albeit a brief one and in our edition (a first edition), there is a type layout error in the middle of the Polacanthus passage.

Polacanthus Fossil Illustrations and Explanations

The book features lots of colour plates showing Polacanthus fossil material.

The book features lots of colour plates showing Polacanthus fossil material.

Picture Credit: Sir Scientific Press

It is good to see that this book redresses the balance somewhat.  It provides a comprehensive overview of the known polacanthid fossil material.  After a short introduction to armoured dinosaurs, the history of the fossil discoveries is covered and the reader is taken through a tour of the anatomy of these heavily armoured dinosaurs.  With a focus on British polacanthids very much in evidence, it was good to see that the author had dedicated one special chapter to the fossils of members of the Polacanthidae found elsewhere in the world.  The final chapter, brings Polacanthus very much up to date with a detailed overview of HORSM 1988.1546 which leads to the establishment of a new genus.

To read more about HORSM 1988.1546: A New British Dinosaur is Announced

It is almost 150 years to the day since the genus Polacanthus was erected (Owen), it is great to see the publication of a book solely dedicated to these most fascinating of creatures.  We wonder what the Crystal Palace statue of Hylaeosaurus would make of it all…

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