Category: Book Reviews

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…

A New British Dinosaur is Announced – Horshamosaurus

Many Spined Polacanthus Makeover

If you ask dinosaur fans to name an English dinosaur then many will, no doubt propose Iguanodon, Megalosaurus or Baryonyx.  True, these are all members of the Dinosauria clade whose fossils have been found in Britain, but examples of fossils that represent these three genera can be cited from other countries as well.  For example, Iguanodon fossils are also known from Belgium, Baryonyx material has been collected in Spain and Megalosaurus has become a bit of a taxonomic waste basket for all sorts of Jurassic Theropod fossils from Europe.

We suspect that if a survey of this sort was to be conducted, there would be very few mentions of Polacanthus, a dinosaur which could, with some justification, lay claim to being truly English*.  However, following a reassessment of the fossil material, one of the two species of armoured dinosaur assigned to the Polacanthus genus has been set apart and placed into its own genus.  Polacanthus rudgwickensis has been placed in the newly erected genus Horshamosaurus.  This latest twist in the story of Polacanthus comes almost 150 years to the day when Richard Owen first introduced the term to the wider public in an anonymously written article that appeared in the “Illustrated London News” of September 1865.  The name Polacanthus had originally been proposed the year before at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in response to armoured dinosaur fossils discovered on the Isle of Wight.

An Illustration of Polacanthus

Lovely example of a customer's artwork

Lovely example of a Polacanthus

Picture Credit: Chris

Polacanthus rudgwickensis was described by William T. Blows in 1996.  Now retired after a long and distinguished career lecturing in the neurosciences (City University, London), a 220 page book written by William T. Blows, that provides a comprehensive account of the history of British polacanthids, has just been published by Siri Scientific Press.

The book entitled “British Polacanthid Dinosaurs – Observations on the History and Palaeontology of the UK Polacanthid Armoured Dinosaurs and their Relatives” is available at the link below:

UK Polacanthid Armoured Dinosaurs: Siri Scientific Press

This publication contains a complete description of the new genus and includes detailed illustrations of all the fossilised elements that have been assigned to this new genus, the very latest addition to the compendium of British dinosaurs.  The Horshamosaurus material comes from exposed Lower Cretaceous Barremian Wealden deposits located at an old brickworks – Rudgwick quarry, approximately six miles west of the town of Horsham in West Sussex.  The fossil material was discovered in 1985 and put on display at local Horsham Museum, where it had been labelled as a specimen of an Iguanodon.

The Location of the Fossil Finds Now Assigned to Horshamosaurus

Rudgwick quarry the location of the Polacanthus fossil discovery.

Rudgwick quarry the location of the Polacanthus fossil discovery.

The picture above shows the brickworks quarry at Rudgwick.  The specimen of Horshamosaurus was found approximately where the man is standing (left of the photograph).  The fossil material consists of one partial dorsal vertebra, a dorsal vertebra centrum, an anterior caudal vertebra, fragments of other bones from the spine, part of the left shoulder blade (scapula), with a fused coracoid fragment, pieces of rib and limb bones (part of a humerus, a nearly complete right tibia).

The Nearly Complete Dorsal Vertebra of the Specimen

Seen in posterior, lateral and anterior view.

Seen in posterior, lateral and anterior view.

The Polacanthus genus was one of the first armoured dinosaurs to be scientifically described, it was named long before the more famous Thyreophorans such as Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus and thanks to the fossil material from the Isle of Wight and southern England, Polacanthus can be regarded very much as an English dinosaur.

*Fragmentary remains tentatively assigned to Polacanthus have been excavated from Lower Cretaceous deposits in Europe, but due to the paucity of these fossil finds and their poor state of preservation demonstrating any unique traits diagnostic for this genus (autapomorphies) has proved controversial.  Perhaps the best known of all the Polacanthidae family is Gastonia (G. burgei), fossils of which come from similarly aged strata (Barremian faunal stage) found in Utah (United States).

An Illustration of Gastonia (Gastonia burgei)

A drawing of the heavily armoured Gastonia.

A drawing of the heavily armoured Gastonia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All About British Polacanthids

Written by William T. Blows.

Written by William T. Blows.

The name Polacanthus (pronounced Pole-ah-can-thus) translates as “many or multiple spines” a reference to this quadruped’s extensive dermal armour.

A Review of Prehistoric Times (Issue 114)

Prehistoric Times (Issue 114 Summer 2015) Reviewed

An opportunity to unwind from our busy Summer Term schedule of dinosaur workshops, writing lesson plans for schools and so forth with the latest edition of the quarterly magazine Prehistoric Times, that dropped through our office letterbox earlier this week. The timing of this super magazine’s arrival could not have been better as next week our fieldwork and summer school commitments start, so let’s jump straight in.

Naturally the summer has been a very “dino heavy” one, what with the release of a certain film starring Chris Pratt et al.  Prehistoric Times does not disappoint, the editor Mike Fredericks, takes time out from his own busy schedule to provide a short review of “Jurassic World” and to discuss the huge range of collectibles and other merchandise that have flooded onto the market.  The focus is on the American market, but the article is well written and we loved his short, concise movie review:

“Plenty of dinosaurs and plenty of action.”

We could not have put it better ourselves,  just be careful, if you haven’t seen the film yet, the article does have a plot synopsis and therefore it contains a few spoilers.  With Universal Studios having announced a sequel, conveniently (at least until a better title comes along), entitled “Jurassic World 2″ scheduled for June 22nd 2018, or thereabouts, we can expect Mike to provide another merchandise overview but this time in issue PT#126!

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Issue 114)

Concavenator features (Sean Cooper)

Concavenator features (Sean Cooper)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks/Prehistoric Times

The front cover features a spectacular model of Concavenator (C. corcovatus) created by the very talented Sean Cooper.  A lengthy interview provides an insight into Sean’s work and showcases some of his amazing dioramras (built/painted by Martin Garratt).  If you look carefully you can spot another Concavenator replica by Sean but with a different colour scheme inside the magazine.

Phil Hore provides part two (a sequel)? to his excellent series on the resurrected Brontosaurus and there is some wonderful reader’s artwork on display.   Special mentions to Kurt Miller, Julius Csotonyi and Russell J. Hawley for their contributions.  Tracy Lee Ford keeps us in the Morrison Formation as he explains how to tell the boys and girls apart when it comes to the Stegosauridae.  A very insightful article it is too.  He draws upon the recently published paper on Hesperosaurus, a summary of which you can find here: Did Boy Stegosaurs Have Bigger Plates Than The Girls? If you want to know the difference between different Stegosaur species this article is a great place to start.  Also, look out for a short review of Tracy’s “How to Draw Dinosaurs Volume 1″ in the book review section.

The enigmatic Auroch features, a prehistoric cow responsible for more human fatalities than the whole of the Dinosauria, no matter what you might see at the cinema.  Phil Hore does a great job in explaining what the Auroch was and reports on the potential to make this bovine “de-extinct”.  He even manages to squeeze a photograph in of a few Nazis, you have to subscribe to Prehistoric Times to learn about this historical connection.

Amongst all the dinosaur and fossil news, look out for Britain’s Mike Howgate and his feature on the Wisbech Museum and the story of perhaps the very first prehistoric animal models ever made.  Nice one Mike, keep flying the flag for those of us on this side of the Atlantic, after all, the word Dinosauria was first coined by a Lancastrian!

The National Geographic Channel’s recent documentary “T. rex Autopsy”, is featured with a very informative interview with palaeontologist Matthew T. Mossbrucker and look out for an imaginative and well-written story all about Tyrannosaurus rex – The Super Predator written by Mike Kelley.

Eagle-eyed fans of Everything Dinosaur will also be able to spot a number of familiar drawings of prehistoric animals in the What’s New in Review section.  These drawings are some of the illustrations that we commission editor Mike Fredericks to create for us to illustrate our exclusive range of prehistoric animal fact sheets.

Can you Spot the Rebor Utahraptor (Wind Hunter) Illustration

The illustration on the Everything Dinosaur Utahraptor fact sheet.

The illustration on the Everything Dinosaur Utahraptor fact sheet.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For further information on Prehistoric Times and to subscribe to this excellent magazine: Prehistoric Times Magazine

 As ever, this is a jam-packed edition with so many highlights.  Fans of Marx toy dinosaurs won’t be disappointed as will anyone with a passing interest in Acrocanthosaurus and a special mention to Allen A. Debus for his fascinating article on the first representations of evolution in the cinema and the legal spat between Willis O’Brien and Herbert M. Dawley, that occurred at a time when stop-motion triumphs such as the Lost World and King Kong had yet to be made.

All in all great stuff!

The Great Dinosaur Discoveries Reviewed

A Review of “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries” by Darren Naish

Everything Dinosaur team members were asked the other day to provide a list of what were, in their opinion, the best dinosaur books written since the turn of the Century.  One of the books listed was “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries”, written by Darren Naish and published back in 2009.  This is a book about dinosaurs, but it takes the reader on a very different journey when compared to the majority of books that discuss the rise and fall of the Dinosauria, and what a fascinating journey it is too.

The Front Cover of “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries”

A fascinating insight into the history of dinosaur discoveries.

A fascinating insight into the history of dinosaur discoveries.

A lot of dinosaur books catalogue the dinosaurs in terms of their geology, starting with the very first dinosaurs and ending with the Cretaceous mass extinction, that ended the “Age of Reptiles”, leaving us with only the avian dinosaurs to study as living animals today.  Other books on this topic take the phylogenetic approach, that is, they map out the dinosaur family tree.  Chapters are dedicated to the different sorts of dinosaur that once roamed the Earth, pages detail the evolution of the Sauropodomorpha, whilst other parts focus on Theropods, the armoured dinosaurs (Thyreophora) and the Ornithopods.

Darren’s book takes us in a different direction.  After an introductory preamble that deals with dinosaur definitions and places the Dinosauria within the geological time scale, each subsequent chapter is organised chronologically in terms of how our knowledge and understanding of these magnificent Archosaurs has changed.  It is not just a book about dinosaurs, it documents the history of dinosaur research and this is a most informative and refreshing approach.

Yes, we have to admit, this is not the first book to be produced to have done this, but what elevates “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries” above its peers are the beautiful fossil photographs, the stunning illustrations, provided by the likes of Julius Csotonyi, Luis Rey and Todd Marshall and the informative and well crafted writing of the author.

An Acrocanthosaurus Studies a Group of Sauroposeidon

Theropods make an appearance in a section devoted to Macronaria from Oklahoma.

Theropods make an appearance in a section devoted to Macronaria from Oklahoma.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

The picture above shows one of the many illustrations by renowned palaeo-artist Julius Csotonyi included in this book.  Darren combines stunning artwork with the sort of well-informed writing one would expect from such a distinguished vertebrate palaeontologist and science writer.

In our correspondence with the author, Darren admits that due to time and budgetary constraints some elements that he desperately wanted to include were omitted.  He would have loved to have added a section dedicated to the “Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt”, detailing the contribution made to the science of palaeontology by Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach and Richard Markgraf, or to have explained in greater detail the contribution made by Louis Dollo when it comes to unravelling the family tree of the iguanodontids.  Alas, this was not to be.  However, “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries” is not diminished as a result of these omissions and although the science of vertebrate palaeontology has moved on since this book was first published (2009), it remains a thoroughly enjoyable read and serves as testament to the dedicated research that has done so much to help us understand the enigmatic Dinosauria.

Ouranosaurus Makes an Appearance – Mounted Skeleton

Amazing pictures of dinosaurs in the book.

Amazing pictures of dinosaurs in the book.

Aimed at the general reader with plenty to interest those with an academic background, this book is highly recommended.  Find it and add it to your bookshelf, you won’t be disappointed.

Naish, D. 2009. The Great Dinosaur Discoveries. University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles), pp. 192. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-520-25975-1.

How to Clone a Mammoth (Book Review)

How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro – Book Review

There is a saying “may you live in interesting times”, thought by many to be an ancient Chinese proverb.  We may not be too sure as to the derivation of this phrase, but for a geneticist, the early years of the 21st Century are most certainly “interesting times”.  Our understanding of DNA, that double helix shaped set of building blocks for life itself has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two decades.  Our species is on the brink of some startling developments in genetics, one of which is the ability, through the manipulation of an organism’s genome, to bring back once extinct creatures, or at least to produce a population of closely related living things that have characteristics of organisms that existed in the past.

Evolutionary biologist and ecologist Beth Shapiro, neatly summarises the current research and sets out some of the hurdles – scientific, moral and ethical, that mankind will have to overcome if the likes of a Woolly Mammoth will ever roam the Earth again.  Her book “How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth”, published by Princeton Press sets out to explain how state-of-the-art science can lead to genetic modification, consequences of which, include the possibility of the return of the Passenger Pigeon to North America or the Mammoth to the tundra of Russia.

How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth by Beth Shapiro

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

Picture Credit: Princeton Press

Written in an informative but never patronising style, Beth an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, takes the reader on a journey beginning with the tricky subject of which species to consider for “de-extinction” and then how to go about finding a suitable specimen for the all important donation of genetic material.  Her frank and knowledgeable account of Pleistocene fossil hunting expeditions in the Yukon and on the Taimyr Peninsula in the far north of Russia provides a fresh perspective on the difficulties involved in hunting for long extinct Ice Age creatures and the potentially game-changing genetic treasure that they may contain.

For further information and to purchase this book visit: Princeton Press

“How to Clone a Mammoth” provides a comprehensive account of the current research and sets out the role that genetically modified organisms will play in conservation.  Beth has skilfully blended cutting edge science with an overview of the ramifications that resurrecting lost fauna might have for the restoration of declining ecosystems.  This book will be of interest to a very broad audience, from academics and students, to the general reader with a lay person’s curiosity for the ways in which genetic engineering is shaping life on Earth.

The Author Associate Professor Beth Shapiro

A well-written and comprehensive account.

A well-written and comprehensive account.

Picture Credit: Kris Krug

 This field of scientific endeavour is moving at a rapid pace.  Recently, an international team of scientists, including Dr Love Dalén, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Stockholm), successfully sequenced the Woolly Mammoth genome.  In a separate study, researchers have highlighted the alarming decline globally of large herbivores, that might lead to “empty landscapes”.  Associate Professor Shapiro argues that elephants which have been genetically modified so that they are able to tolerate cold conditions could well play a significant role in habitat and ecosystem preservation in the near future.  “How to Clone a Mammoth” may soon date as the science of “de-extinction” progresses, but it provides the reader with a road map for understanding the path that genetic research developments may take us down.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is a skilfully and conscientiously crafted book that explains the challenges and potential pit falls that lie ahead.  The author has done much to de-bunk the myths and misleading information that surrounds this topic and “How to Clone a Mammoth” provides the reader with a comprehensive account of the state of current research as well as tantalising glimpses with regards to what risks and potential rewards “de-extinction” might facilitate.”

Highly recommended.

For further information on “How to Clone a Mammoth” or to purchase a copy: Princeton Press

Prehistoric Times Spring 2015 Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times (Issue 113)

Armour and artists dominate the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur fans and collectors of all things Dinosauria.  The front cover features a spectacular piece of artwork created by the very talented Luis Rey, a feathered Tarbosaurus battles the ankylosaurid Tarchia.  Inside there is an interview with the London-based illustrator along with some selected images from his most impressive back catalogue.  Armoured prehistoric animals is a recurring theme, not only is Ankylosaurus the subject of a Phil Hore feature, but he also covers Archelon (giant prehistoric marine turtle) and Glyptodon a member of the bizarre Xenarthran group of Mammals.  Three Phil Hore features for the price of two, must be some sort of special offer for spring!

The Colourful Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Magazine

The wonderful artwork of Luis Rey is featured.

The wonderful artwork of Luis Rey is featured.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The huge Ankylosaurus skull fossil is discussed in an article by Dr. Jordan Mallon, this specimen representing the largest individual known (CMN 8880) was discovered way back in 1947, but its significance and the implications for research into ankylosaurids has only just been realised.  Tracy Lee Ford explains how to get ahead when it comes to drawing the cranial features of these most armoured of all the dinosaurs.  This article, literally builds on a previously published one that explained the technicalities involved when it comes to producing accurate images of the wide bodies of these Ornithischians.

Amongst all the reader submitted artwork, news stories and book reviews (great to see the Blu-ray version of Dinosaur 13 reviewed, this was a super documentary), the forthcoming Jurassic World is not ignored.  Mike Fredericks provides a personal view on this long-awaited block buster.  There are some pictures from the movie, plus some images of the inevitable avalanche of merchandise – not too many spoilers (honest).  We shall have to see if Jurassic World has been worth the wait.

There is a poignant feature on the Carnegie Collectibles range of models, written by Joshua Morrison.  Everything Dinosaur received news, a while back that the partnership between Safari Ltd and the Carnegie Natural History Museum was coming to an end, to read more about this: The End of the Line for Carnegie Collectibles.  In an article entitled “Fabled Beginnings: The Origin of the Carnegie Collection”, Joshua leads us through the early days of this iconic replica range.

Dr. John Noad takes readers on a brief guided tour of one of our favourite places on the planet – the Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta, Canada and on a very sad note there is an obituary for Stephen Czerkas, sculptor, scientist and author who sadly passed away earlier this year.

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

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