In Praise of “Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction”

By | February 3rd, 2019|Adobe CS5, Book Reviews, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page|0 Comments

A Guide to the Late Palaeozoic Ice Age World

Long journeys and hours waiting around in train stations and airport terminals have been made bearable thanks to an excellent book written by George R. McGhee Junior, a Distinguished Professor of Palaeobiology at Rutgers University.  The book is “Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction”.  At this time of year, Everything Dinosaur team members seem to have to undertake a lot of travelling, what with their project work and teaching commitments, this eminently informative and enjoyable book has proved a worthy travelling companion.

The Front Cover of “Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction”

A new book on the Palaeozoic by George R. McGhee Junior.

“Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction” an excellent book that explains the science behind our knowledge of the Carboniferous flora and fauna and explores the impact of the End-Permian mass extinction event.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Front Cover Artwork by Richard Bizley

Artwork by Richard Bizley

One of the ironies of having read this book from cover to cover is that we have only just noticed that the front cover artwork showing a typical Late Carboniferous rainforest dominated by lycophyte scale trees, giant horsetails such as Calamites and marattialean tree ferns, was produced by our dear friend Richard Bizley.  Richard is a highly respected artist, he produces exquisite prehistoric scenes as well as landscapes and science fiction illustrations.  The huge millipede in the foreground is Arthropleura armata, which is estimated to have grown in excess of three metres long.  This giant arthropod is illustrated inside the book too, Mary Persis Williams, another highly respected scientific illustrator, shows the scale of A. armata by comparing it to an extant American Alligator (A. mississippiensis).

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of this beautifully crafted book: Our Review of “Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction”

An Insight into an Alien World

Life on Earth in the Carboniferous and Permian was very different from ecosystems today.  As well as the giant arthropods found in terrestrial and marine environments, there were alien-looking plants and bizarre vertebrates some of which (synapsids), were the distant ancestors of mammals.  Top predators in the Carboniferous forests and Early Permian swamps included salamander-like amphibian batrachomorphs such as the monstrous Eryops megacephalus,  which grew to more than two metres in length and was capable of swallowing a small child whole (if humans had lived in the Palaeozoic).

An Illustration of Eryops megacephalus (Scale Drawing)

Eryops megacephalus scale drawing.

A scale drawing of Eryops.

Picture Credit: Mary Persis Williams with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Published by Columbia University Press, “Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction” makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of ancient environments and the incredible plants and animals that once inhabited the Earth. It can be found here: Columbia University Press

For more information about the artwork and illustrations of Richard Bizley: Richard Bizley Art