Category: Book Reviews

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.”


“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.

Prehistoric Times Magazine Issue 109 Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2014)

Another bursting at the seams edition of Prehistoric Times with its front cover of a Chasmosaurus (model by Shane Foulkes) highlighting the fact that “Chasm Lizard” is one of the prehistoric animals featured in issue 109.  Phil Hore does an excellent job on summarising the rather convoluted history of this genus and his article has some super Chasmosaurus inspired artwork sent in by readers.  Not to be undone, Tracy Lee Ford chips in with a detailed explanation of the various species assigned to Chasmosaurus and does a splendid job in sorting out which of the former members of the Chasmosaurus genus have been reassigned elsewhere and why.  In addition, he even manages to insert a little bit of the work of Charles Dickens and we though Dicken’s only wrote about Megalosaurs (Bleak House).

Prehistoric Times (Issue 109)

Beautiful Chasmosaurus on the front cover.

Beautiful Chasmosaurus on the front cover.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times/Everything Dinosaur

In the news section, there is information on Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, whose fossils were find well inside the Arctic Circle.  It’s name means “polar bear lizard” which is very appropriate.  News stories featured include Anzu wyliei from North Dakota and possibly the largest Theropod dinosaur known from our side of the Atlantic, Torvosaurus gurneyi.  T. gurneyi fossils have been found in Portugal, this is a specimen that we at Everything Dinosaur know quite well, what with the amount of new discoveries being reported to us by our friends on the Iberian peninsula.

To read more about Torvosaurus gurneyi: Meet “Savage Lizard” – Europe’s Largest Meat-Eating Dinosaur Described to Date?

Allen Debus takes us back to the 1930′s a time when Chicago was host to the Worlds Fair which featured an exhibition of life-size prehistoric animals.  Part two of this highly informative article will be in the next edition.

To read more about Prehistoric Times/subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Lots of model news and reviews, plus a super section dedicated to giant prehistoric birds, with a focus on the Ratites.  Once again, the article is accompanied by some excellent reader artwork and imagery.  Sculptor and artist John Gurche is interviewed and there is a special feature on how John was tasked with creating fifteen hominin sculptures for the Smithsonian Institute and its “Hall of Human Origins”.  Some of the models he has produced are simply breathtaking, the Smithsonian will shortly become the  museum for all other palaeoanthropologists to look up to.  John’s book “Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art and Imagination Help Us to Understand Our Origins” is reviewed in the excellent Mesozoic Media section and the book is already on our Christmas shopping list along with ironically, another book reviewed, “At the Top of the Grand Staircase”, which documents the fauna and flora from the Upper Cretaceous deposits to be found in this part of southern Utah.

All in all, an excellent magazine jam packed with lots and lots to keep dinosaur fans entertained and informed.

Prehistoric Times (Winter 2014) Reviewed

Prehistoric Times Winter 2014

With team members at Everything Dinosaur  undertaking a lot of work in schools over the next few weeks, any members of staff staying away from the office will have plenty to read as the new edition of Prehistoric Times (issue 104) has arrived.  Editor, Mike Fredericks proudly states that this latest edition of the quarterly magazine for fans of prehistoric animal models and everything to do with dinosaurs is “really special” and we are not going to disagree, as it is packed from cover to cover with lots of amazing prehistoric animal artwork, model and book reviews, articles and updates on the world of palaeontology.

Let’s start by singing the praises of the front cover.  Issue 108 (winter 2014) is adorned by a brilliantly evocative piece of art by that very talented artist and illustrator Fabio Pastori.  Fabio depicts a feathered Allosaurus battling a Stegosaurus, whilst Late Jurassic birds flap their wings in earnest to escape the mayhem.

Prehistoric Times (Issue 108)

Everything Dinosaur reviews Prehistoric Times (winter 2014)

Everything Dinosaur reviews Prehistoric Times (winter 2014)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Prehistoric Times

Super artwork Fabio, one of our favourite covers was your Dilophosaurus illustration on the front cover of issue 88, now we might just have to change our minds having seen the wonderful artwork on the latest edition of Prehistoric Times.

One of the great things about this magazine is the regular feature “How to Draw Dinosaurs”, written by Tracy Lee Ford.  His contribution deals with recent developments in the study of Hadrosaurs (Saurolophinae), updating readers on changes in how these Ornithopods may be illustrated with the discovery of a soft crest on the skull of a specimen of Edmontosaurus regalis discovered near the city of Grande Prairie in Canada.  Everything Dinosaur wrote a short article about this amazing fossil find, one that could change the way that duck-billed dinosaurs are depicted in the future, when the academic paper was published in “Current Biology”.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article: Duck-Billed Dinosaur with a Comb like a Rooster

The article contains lots of interesting insights into Saurolophinae skull morphology, with some handy line drawings to help get the main points across.

The two prehistoric animals featured in this issue are Australovenator and the enormous ancient ape Gigantopithecus.  Phil Hore goes over the finer details of these very diverse members of the fossil record and there are lots of amazing reader’s artwork included too.    A big opposable thumbs up to Phil, especially for his highly informative and well-written article on Gigantopithecus.

Amongst all the updates on dinosaur collectibles and new model releases, there is an interview with artist David Krentz and his involvement in the 3-D “Walking with Dinosaurs” movie that is currently on release, plus the latest news concerning the Canadian-produced spin-off to the British television series “Primeval”.  Look out for the book reviews and the highly informative overview of 2013 from a palaeontologist’s perspective written by the well-travelled Steve Brusatte.  Now residing north of the border, Steve’s passion for palaeontology has taken him to Scotland to take up a post as a research fellow for the University of Edinburgh.

Prehistoric animals on stamps are a theme for the winter edition, with an article by James Gurney that details the work behind the production of a set of postage stamps commissioned by Australia Post showcasing the diversity of Mesozoic fauna from down under.  British prehistoric animals get a look in too, as there is a feature on the twelve first class stamps illustrated by John Sibbick for Royal Mail.  The stamps, originally commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the book “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were delayed by Team GB’s success at the 2012 Olympics but were released in October of last year.

To read more about the stamps from Royal Mail: Royal Mail Issues New Prehistoric Animal Stamps

John Sibbick’s artwork is superb and in Prehistoric Times he talks through how he went about depicting prehistoric fauna strongly associated with the British Isles.  The stamps were released to celebrate over 150 years of the study of palaeontology in the United Kingdom, Everything Dinosaur got involved with this project when they were asked to write the cover notes and information on the extinct creatures featured in the set.  It was fun!

There’s a lot packed into the latest edition, look out for the review of a visit to the famous Natural History Museum of Berlin, as well as interviews with dinosaur sculptors Allen Debus and Bob Morales, Everything Dinosaur even gets a mention in the editorial.

We asked our chum, Mike to give our Facebook page a plug, we are on a mission to get “likes” for our boss “Tyrannosaurus Sue”.

Hit the Facebook Logo to Visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a "like".

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a “like”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All in all, thoroughly recommended, a definite inclusion in our travel bags and overnight gear as team members spend the next few weeks on their adventures.

To learn more about Prehistoric Times visit the website: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Congratulations to Safari Ltd, as their Gryposaurus dinosaur model was voted “Best New Toy” by Prehistoric Times readers.

Deposits Magazine (Issue 36) Reviewed

A Review of Issue 36 (Winter 2013/14) of Deposits Magazine

The latest edition of “Deposits” magazine arrived at Everything Dinosaur the other day and what a jam-packed edition it is.  In the previous issue there was an article all about Pliocene micro-fossils and a beautiful image of the foraminifera Polystomiella vuispa, can be seen on the front cover.

Inside, there is an eclectic mix of articles on fossils, geology and palaeontology from a number of international contributors.  For example, there is a brief feature summarising the latest research into Late Cretaceous Elasmosaurid fossils from Morocco and the preceding pages detail a successful fossil hunting trip to Abereiddy Bay (Pembrokeshire, Wales) to study those enigmatic, bizarre graptolites.  Graptolites are/were (see below) a group of tiny animals that lived in colonies and built minute tubular homes for themselves.  Graptolite fossils look like pencil markings or saw-blades preserved in strata and a number of species are important in helping to identify geological biozones.  If you thought that the graptolites were extinct then this article is worth reading as it proposes a link between Graptolites and extant Pterobranchs.

Deposits Magazine Issue 36

Issue 36

Issue 36

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Geologists will get their kicks from a very informative article from Dr. Trevor Watts and his trip to Iceland to journey down the emptied-out magma chamber of a volcano.  For those of us who stay closer to home there is an article all about classifying Ammonites as well as a super article all about Doncaster (South Yorkshire) and this part of Yorkshire’s hidden treasures in terms of geology and palaeontology.  Lots of fossil finds, a number of news snippets and an update on a series of articles on how the tropics drives speciation.  All in all, this magazine makes a wonderful read, and with the dark nights and long days in the Everything Dinosaur offices, it is a welcome magazine, one that will help us plan a few fossil hunting excursions of our own.

Prehistoric Times Issue 107 Reviewed

Everything Dinosaur Reviews the Autumn Issue of Prehistoric Times Magazine

Issue 107 of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur fans and serious model collectors has arrived in the office and fans of the artwork of John Sibbick are going to be delighted with the front cover.  The illustration of  two Allosaurs fighting over the carcase of a Camptosaurus was painted by John, a man who has been much in demand recently, as he was responsible for the prehistoric animal paintings that now adorn the new Royal Mail First Class stamps that came into circulation last week.  Inside the magazine, its sixty-two pages are jam packed with lots of features, articles and illustrations.  There is a profile and interview of  commercial illustrator Jerry LoFaro and in the light of the news that Jurassic Park IV (Jurassic World) is likely to be in cinemas by the summer of 2015, dinosaur expert Gregory S. Paul gives his view on the “JP” franchise.

Prehistoric Times Autumn 2013 

The autumn (fall) edition of Prehistoric Times magazine.

The autumn (fall) edition of Prehistoric Times magazine.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks/Everything Dinosaur

Utahraptor and Uintatherium are the prehistoric animals showcased in this edition.  There are lots of pictures and drawings submitted by readers and Phil Hore provides a highly informative text, focusing on the largest of the Dromaeosaurs and on the mighty Eocene, herbivorous mammal with the strange and bumpy appearance.  Surprisingly, Utahraptor features in a Star Trek novel, the things you learn about when reading Prehistoric Times.  Tracy Lee Ford gets in on the act and provides a master-class in Dromaeosaurid illustration, including some interpretations of the very latest scientific data.  He also edits the Paleonews page, covering topics as diverse as Ichthyosaur evolution, Chelonia and giant Pterosaurs.

On the subject of the Pterosauria, for all those who haven’t quite got their fill of flying reptiles after reading the wonderful “Pterosaurs” by Mark Witton, there is a super article all about the attempts to replicate Pterosaur flight, in particular that of the likes of the Azhdarchid Quetzalcoatlus.  Amongst the reviews and product updates, the magazine’s editor, Mike Fredericks sheds some light on some amazing dinosaur themed items from the past in collector’s corner, look out for the “deliberate” mistakes on Mike’s “What’s New in Review” page, whoops!

Issue 107 even features an article on prehistoric themed roadside attractions in the United States, there is something for everybody in the autumn edition, the Prehistoric Times team must have some sort of space-aged print compactor that enables them to squeeze it all into one magazine.  Another triumph, one to read by the fireside as the nights draw in.

To subscribe to Prehistoric Times: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Pterosaurs by Mark P. Witton – A Book Review

Pterosaurs Reviewed

Amongst the myriad of books published on the subject of long extinct creatures, it is the dinosaurs that seem to have had the lion’s share of the limelight, their Mesozoic contemporaries the Pterosaurs, have largely been overlooked.  However, this new publication, written by palaeontologist and science writer Mark Witton entitled “Pterosaurs” goes a long way to redressing this imbalance.  These “winged lizards”, as that is what the term Pterosaurs means once translated from Greek, were the first vertebrates to develop powered flight, nothing like them exists today but thanks to Mark’s skilful writing accompanied by a number of his own original paintings and some exquisite close up shots of these enigmatic animal’s beautifully preserved fossil remains, the reader is rapidly brought up to date with developments in flying reptile research.

The book is essentially split into three distinct parts.  The first nine chapters are dedicated to providing a broad understanding of Pterosaur evolution, the fossil evidence, their flight abilities and locomotion.  If you have ever wondered how an animal as tall as a giraffe could possibly get off the ground, or where the Pterosauria fit into the Sauropsida (reptiles and birds) family tree, then these pages will go a long way to providing you with the answers. The bulk of the rest of the book is then dedicated to introducing and discussing the numerous Pterosaur groups currently recognised by the majority of “Pterosaurologists” and what a bizarre, eclectic collection the Pterosaurs prove to be.  From the stout jawed, long-tailed Dimorphodontidae, through to the flamboyant Tapejaridae culminating in those giraffe-sized Azhdarchids, Mark attempts to introduce each group roughly in chronological order, focusing first on the earliest types of Pterosaurs and concluding with the very last of their kind.  Most members of the public can recognise one or two types of flying reptile, thanks largely to their role as flying terrors in films, on television and the ubiquitous use of Pteranodon as a flying reptile model included in most dinosaur toy sets.  By the end of chapter twenty-five, the reader has been given a comprehensive run down of the cast of characters that currently make up the Pterosauria Order.

Pterosaurs – Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy by Mark P. Witton

A very well researched and documented publication from an authority on the Pterosauria.

A very well researched and documented publication from an authority on the Pterosauria.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The picture above shows the front jacket illustration, the Pterosaur featured is the “antler crested” Nyctosaurus (chapter 18).

Some knowledge of biology, anatomy and scientific terminology would be useful, but to Mark’s credit he works hard to simplify and explain the nuances of these bizarre creatures in a language that enables the lay person to follow the points that are being made without necessarily dumbing down the scientific tone of the book.  From our own perspective, with some knowledge of vertebrate palaeontology already, we found some of the details on the latest fossil discoveries, most notably from the Crato Formation (Brazil) and China’s Jiufotang Formation truly enlightening.  In each chapter dedicated to a specific type of Pterosaur, Mark provides a skeletal reconstruction and life restoration of a typical member of this part of the Pterosaur family tree.  This permits the reader to flick backwards and forwards thus comparing the different anatomical features of each type of Pterosaur with relative ease.  A personal bugbear of ours, a fault found in many a technical tome on palaeontology that attempts to reach out to a wider audience, that of having illustrations supporting points made in the text, placed on subsequent pages and not adjacent to the text that the illustration refers to, is largely avoided.  The excellent drawings and diagrams, including a number of Mark’s own paintings help to explain some of the more complex points made.

One diagram that we found ourselves constantly referring to occurs in chapter six, the part of the book that attempts to answer the most fundamental questions regarding the Pterosauria, why did they fly and were they any good at it?  The author has very helpfully reproduced a graphical representation that compares and contrasts Pterosaur wing loadings and aspect ratios with modern fliers (birds and bats).  From this single graph, the reader is given the opportunity to view the different morphologies of Pterosaurs in terms of their adaptations to certain types of aerial activity.  Thus, one can see at a glance those members of the Pterosauria that most likely filled an ecological niche similar to some of today’s sea-birds as marine soarers as well as those flying reptiles more adapted to inland, arboreal habitats where they filled an ecological niche similar to extant aerial predators.

A Curious Sordes pilosus investigates a Late Jurassic land snail

Eyeing up a potential meal?

Eyeing up a potential meal?

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The book has an extensive reference section, inviting the reader to explore the world of the Pterosaurologist further.  A couple of small quibbles on our part, a glossary of terms at the back of the book would have been helpful as would a Pterosauria pronunciation guide but apart from these ever so minor points, Mark is to be congratulated for casting a comprehensive spotlight onto these remarkable reptiles.

The last chapter of “Pterosaurs” deals with the decline and final extinction of these leathery-winged creatures, although a little brief, it does leave the reader with a real sense of loss.  These were not the misfits of vertebrate evolution, not simply a stop-gap before the Aves could step into their flying boots and dominate the skies, the book does much to change attitudes towards the Pterosauria.  Yes, they were bizarre, but as a group they persisted for something like 150 million years, a lot longer than us hominids and that’s a sobering thought.

Highly recommended.

Prehistoric Times Issue 106 Reviewed

A Review of the Summer 2013 Edition of Prehistoric Times Magazine

The first prolonged period of hot, summer weather in the UK for quite a while has been made all the more enjoyable with the arrival of the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur model fans and prehistoric animal enthusiasts.  It is ideal reading material for sitting outside the office and soaking up some sunshine, if only the other Everything Dinosaur team members would let go of the magazine for long enough.

This issue (number 106), marks the first copy to be produced after the twentieth anniversary issue and it sets the standard for the next two decades with some excellent articles and features.  The two prehistoric animals given most prominence are Tyrannosaurus rex and the “T. rex” of its day the fearsome Triassic predator Postosuchus.  We expect that Mike Fredericks, the editor would have been swamped with artwork and indeed, lots of reader’s illustrations are featured, especially of T. rex.  There are some wonderful depictions, even feathered versions of T. rex.

Tracy Lee Ford’s excellent series, “How to Draw Dinosaurs” focuses on this apex predator.  He compares the arm bones of Tyrannosaurus rex with those of other Tyrannosaurids and sets about building up a picture of a powerful predator with exceptionally strong hind legs, a deeper body and a more massive tail.  He concludes that such a dinosaur was not a particularly fast runner, but still an immensely capable and powerful opportunistic hunter.

Amongst all the collector news and model releases, there is a special tribute to Ray Harryhausen, whose stop motion special effects amazed us all in such fantastic films as  ”Jason and the Argonauts”, “The Valley of the Gwangi” and “Clash of the Titans”.  Ray sadly passed away on May 7th, William Stout has produced a super article with artwork in tribute to Ray and there is a model diorama of the monster from the 1953 film “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms”, it looks like lighthouses were not monster proof!

The front cover artwork (featuring T. rex), was created by up and coming Ukrainian artist Sergey Krasovskiy.  Sergey has chosen to depict this fearsome Late Cretaceous carnivore with a conspicuous red head ala theories from Bob Bakker et al.  Sergey also contributes to the feature on Postosuchus with some great drawings of Prestosuchus chiniquensis, Ornithosuchus longidens and Postosuchus kirkpatricki.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times – Summer 2013

Marking the 20th anniversary of the magazine.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the magazine.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times/Everything Dinosaur

There are also articles on the life-sized prehistoric animal models sculpted by Josef Pallenberg, updates on dinosaur discoveries and a special interview with artist Ricardo Delgado, part of a series the commemorates twenty years since the first Jurassic Park movie.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur even spotted some prehistoric animal drawings that we know very well in this edition and it was particularly interesting to see how clever Steven B. DeMarco “made over” three dinosaur model kits which were manufactured by Pyro many moons ago.

Once again, a great magazine and a great read.

To view the Prehistoric Times website: Prehistoric Times

Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2013) Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times Magazine (Issue 105)

The weather has at last improved, we can say goodbye to the chilly easterly breeze and say a warm welcome to the spring edition of Prehistoric Times magazine.  Yes, spring has finally come and it is marked by the arrival of the spring edition of Prehistoric Times, a magazine that provides news and views on anything and everything to do with prehistoric animals.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Issue 105)

T. rex faces off against a Triceratops.

T. rex faces off against a Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times

Issue 105 is the 20th anniversary of the first edition of this quarterly publication.  Coincidently, 2013 is also the 20th anniversary of the premier of the dinosaur film “Jurassic Park” and there are special features on both inside this issue.  Editor Mike Fredericks provides a potted history of the publication, a fascinating insight into what has become an institution for “dino-philes”.  Dotted throughout the article are contributions from other regular writers and it was interesting to read how they met Mike and started to work with him on various projects.  The feature entitled “Sketch me a Spitter”, pays homage to Jurassic Park the movie, and renowned artist Mark Hallett recalls his work on the film working as a concept artist and palaeo consultant.  There are some wonderful illustrations of the Theropod dinosaurs that appeared in the first of the Jurassic Park trilogy.  If you have always wanted to know how the venomous dinosaur that killed the character known as Dennis Nedry, came about then read this article and all will be revealed.

The first of the prehistoric animals featured in this issue is Triceratops and the magazine includes lots and lots of artwork sent in by readers. Phil Hore provides a very informative article on this famous horned dinosaur and even Tracy Lee Ford gets in on the act with a superb piece in his long running series “How to Draw Dinosaurs”.  The morphology of the skull and horns changed as Ceratopsians got older.  He kindly summarises the main points to remember when it comes to illustrating juveniles, mature adults and very old specimens of Triceratops.  There is also a rare picture of a Triceratops skull in situ, discovered by the famous palaeontologist George Sternberg in 1908.

Amongst the usual items such as correspondence from readers, collectors corner, book reviews and updates on new model introductions, Ron Lemery provides information on a technique known as photoetching, a great way to build detail into dinosaur themed model scenes.  Talking of models, Steven B. DeMarco showcases how to make and paint a fearsome Mosasaur, a marine reptile he aptly refers to as “Mosa Jaws”!

The second prehistoric animal to feature prominently in this edition of “PT” is the fearsome, highly resourceful Dire Wolf (Canis dirus).  Phil Hore writes a very entertaining piece explaining the differences between the Dire Wolf and the Grey Wolf and discusses their fossil record including the exquisitely detailed specimens that have been retrieved from the La Brea Tar pits in Los Angeles (California, USA).

To learn more about this excellent publication: Visit Prehistoric Times Website

For slightly older dinosaur fans there is a very insightful article written by Allen A. Debus on the beautiful post card illustrations of Neave Parker, a real trip down memory lane when looking at the wonderful black and white illustrations of the various prehistoric animals.

Jam packed full of dinosaur themed goodies, issue 105 of Prehistoric Times is definitely a ” must read” and on this form we can expect this publication to keep on going for at least another twenty years.

Well done to all involved.

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