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Book reviews and information on dinosaur books by Everything Dinosaur team members.

2 08, 2017

A Review of “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”

By | August 2nd, 2017|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

“Recreating an Age of Reptiles” by Mark Witton

Visit a museum to marvel at the fossils of dinosaurs or the majesty of the prehistoric mammals on display and in all likelihood, the scientific exhibits will be accompanied by illustrations that depict how the animal may have looked when it lived and breathed.  The art of bringing to life long extinct creatures requires a very special set of skills, an understanding of comparative anatomy, an ability to interpret fossil evidence combined with the flair to create credible portrayals of the past.  These “palaeoartists”, those who attempt to reconstruct prehistoric life, are a rare breed.  Top-quality palaeoartists are even rarer.  Step forward Dr Mark Witton, a leading exponent of palaeoartistry, a person with the required skill set to comfortably straddle both scientific and artistic worlds.

An insight to how Mark depicts landscapes along with the ancient animals and plants that once existed within them is provided in a fascinating new book – “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”.  The publication focuses on the Mesozoic Era and highlights the way in which this talented illustrator recreates prehistoric fauna and flora.

The Front Cover of “Recreating an Age of Reptiles” by Mark Witton

"Recreating an Age of Reptiles" front cover.

The front cover of “Recreating an Age of Reptiles” by Mark Witton.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The Art of Illustrating What No Human Being has ever Seen!

From the lumbering Barilium dawsoni (an iguanodontid), adorning the front cover, to the swimming pair of Plesiosaurs that appear just prior to the comprehensive index, this book is crammed full of wonderful illustrations that cover that immense period of geological time from the Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous.  Over ninety beautiful and extremely detailed paintings are featured and the author provides an insight into each one, explaining how inferred behaviours are portrayed.   From sunbathing troodontids, through to a remodelling of Dimorphodon and accident-prone Theropods, Mark’s unique style helps to bring to life dinosaurs and their contemporaries and depict them as animals interacting with their environments and the other fauna and flora that co-existed with them.  It is truly a rare gift being able to provide a glimpse into long vanished worlds, that no human has ever witnessed.

Big Meat-eating Dinosaurs Did Not Have Everything Their Own Way!

The Theropod Aucasaurus slips and falls.

When Theropods go wrong! Aucasaurus takes a tumble.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Published by The Crowood Press “Recreating an Age of Reptiles” is just one of those “must-haves” for anyone with an interest in dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  For further information and to purchase this book: Recreating the Age of Reptiles by Mark Witton

Palaeontologist and Palaeoartist Combined

Dr Witton might be best known for his work on the Pterosauria and there are a number of flying reptile illustrations in this book, (look out for the iconic azhdarchid/giraffe comparisons), but it is his attention to detail and the way in which Mark utilises his observations of animals alive today that elevate these illustrations above those of fellow artists.  For example, there are many different interpretations of Baryonyx (B. walkeri), but Mark chooses to recreate this gigantic piscivore muscling in on a prime fishing spot at the expense of a group of ancient crocodilians, in a similar way that a large lion might oust a group of Nile crocodiles from the water’s edge.

Baryonyx Makes an Entrance

Baryonyx walkeri strides through a swamp watched by wary Goniopholis.

Baryonyx walkeri by Mark Witton.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The book is divided into a series of chapters, with each one focusing on a different aspect of Mark’s work and a different group of prehistoric creatures.  Amongst Everything Dinosaur team members, personal highlights include the chapter on how Mesozoic mammals are depicted and the section that brings to life some of the more bizarre reptiles that lived during the Triassic.

Dr Witton concludes by reflecting on how palaeoart has evolved and changed to accommodate new ideas and scientific thinking and admits that many, if not all of his own sumptuous artworks may have to be altered and redrawn as new scientific evidence is presented.  Palaeoart reflects our changing perceptions of prehistoric life.  The way we depict ancient landscapes changes as science itself changes and new ideas and theories find favour.  Mark is comfortable straddling the scientific and artistic worlds, he is equally at home depicting moments in the lives of long extinct creatures, snapshots into the evolution of life on Earth as palaeoart itself evolves.

Book Details

“Recreating an Age of Reptiles”

ISBN: 978-1-78500-334-9

Pages: 112

Publisher: The Crowood Press

Release date: July 2017 (RRP = £16.99)

To purchase a copy: Recreating the Age of Reptiles by Mark Witton

20 07, 2017

Prehistoric Times Issue 122 Reviewed

By | July 20th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times (Summer 2017) Reviewed

Time for another “Prehistoric Times” magazine review and this issue (summer 2017), is as packed as a palaeontologist’s rucksack after a successful day of fossil hunting!  The front cover features a rearing Sauropod image, one of the amazing prehistoric scenes created by the remarkable John Gurche, a paleoartist, whose work has adorned many museums around the world and numerous dinosaur books.  Inside, John provides an insight into how he started his career at the Smithsonian Institute and his involvement with Steven Spielberg and “Jurassic Park”.  The concluding part of this most informative article will be featured in issue 123.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Summer 2017)

Prehistoric Times (issue 122)

The front cover of Prehistoric Times (summer 2017).

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

One Hundred Not Out

Regular contributor Tracy Lee Ford reaches a landmark with issue 122.  Inside the magazine, readers will discover his 100th, “How to Draw Dinosaurs” article.  It is part one, of a series that looks at pathology preserved in fossils – everything from fused metatarsals to the damage caused by a Stegosaur’s thagomizer.  Everything Dinosaur congratulates the author on reaching this milestone and a special thank you for taking the time and trouble to include some excellent images showing the damaged skull of the Tyrannosaur known as “Stan”.

The Cast of the Tyrannosaurus rex (Stan) BHI3033 on Display at Manchester Museum

T. rex specimen (cast)

The pathology of “Stan” is explained by Tracy Lee Ford.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Edmontosaurus and Kronosaurus

Phil Hore delves into the deep blue sea to discuss the fearsome predator Kronosaurus and takes us back onto land (Laramidia) to update readers on the large, Late Cretaceous Hadrosaur Edmontosaurus.  Both articles incorporate lots of reader submitted artwork, it is fascinating to see how the concept of a soft “comb” on Edmontosaurus has been adopted by numerous artists.  Amongst our favourites is the stylised illustration of Edmontosaurus sent in by Meg Bernstein, the skeletal drawing showing head and neck movement by John Sibbick and the beautifully detailed composition of Kronosaurus by long-time customer of Everything Dinosaur Luis Rey.

Prehistoric Times magazine is the magazine for fans of prehistoric animals and dinosaur models.  Published four times a year, it’s a great way to stay in touch with developments in the world of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

For further information about the magazine and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

The First Dinosaur Films

Long before John Gurche’s collaboration with Steven Spielberg, prehistoric animals had already featured in numerous dinosaur films and an article by Sylvia Czerkas tells the story of one of the early pioneers of dinosaurs in the movies, Major Herbert M. Dawley.  One of the great things about “Prehistoric Times” is the breadth of the articles for example, in addition to the regular book reviews, updates on palaeontology, replica news, classifieds and such like, Allen A. Debus expounds on the developments in how ancient landscapes are depicted and editor Mike Fredericks, even manages to find room to squeeze in a couple of drawings from Allen’s grandson Tyler.

Daspletosaurus Attacks Styracosaurus (John Gurche)

Daspletosaurus fighting a horned dinosaur.

Tyrannosaur fighting a horned dinosaur.

The picture above shows one of the spectacular artworks by John Gurche which can be seen in the latest edition of “Prehistoric Times” magazine.

Our thanks to all the contributors and a special mention to Steve Kelley for the extremely well-written article on his collection of Aurora Prehistoric Scenes kits.  That’s a fantastic collection you have their Steve and a very special thank you for including the “Jungle Swamp” images.

6 05, 2017

New Children’s Dinosaur Book “Thomas T. rex”

By | May 6th, 2017|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Mum Inspired to Write Dinosaur Story Books

Nicole Mills has a background in publishing, so when she took an interest in her son’s dinosaur obsession, photographing him with his various prehistoric animal models and toys, her mind began to wonder how she could help other children share his fascination for these long extinct creatures.  Mum and son’s imaginations were certainly sparked, whilst Henry made up stories about his dinosaurs, Nicole decided to turn these into a series of dinosaur themed story books, aimed at young readers.

Nicole Mills and Son Henry

Dino-Mom and Dino-Boy

Nicole with Henry (dinosaur toys).

Picture Credit: Lavide (Phoenix)

Ideas can come from all kinds of places, you never quite know when inspiration will strike.  When Henry told his mum that he needed a detective to solve a dinosaur mystery, the idea of publishing a series of dinosaur detective story books was born.

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”, is the first title, in which detective “Thomas the T. rex” attempts to solve the riddle of some disappearing ferns by following a set of clues including some dinosaur footprints.  The press release provided with the inspection copy that was sent to Everything Dinosaur, states that children will be exposed to valuable life skills such as problem solving and the power of emotions, whilst the humour within the simple text will keep adult readers entertained.

Reading Together

Studies have shown that if parents enjoy reading and have a house filled with lots of books, then their children are more likely to become avid readers too.  Immersing children in literacy activities at an early age can help them gain confidence with their own reading and writing.  Exposure to books, with parents taking time to read to their offspring will help the child develop a bigger vocabulary and assist with spelling.  The large font and the adoption of a simple rhyming motif make the words in this story book very accessible for young children, although parents and guardians on this side of the Atlantic might struggle with the American spelling, “armor” and “favorite” being cases in point.

Creative, Imaginative Play can Help Children Prepare for Formal Education

Tyrannosaurus rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

T. rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

Picture Credit: Schleich

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus” is the debut book in this series, the author hopes to publish one book for each letter of the alphabet, after all, enough dinosaurs have been named and described to easily fill an alphabetical list.  The tone and text of this book accommodates aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), elements of the English national curriculum.  For example, within the statutory framework of the English national curriculum, literacy is a priority, with children being encouraged to link sounds and letters and to commence reading and writing independently.  The framework stipulates that children should be given access to a wide range of reading materials including poems to help ignite their interest.

Actual Dinosaur Models Feature in the Stories

Observant children will be able to recognise several of their dinosaur and prehistoric animal toys within the book.  For example, illustrations of the eponymous hero “Thomas the T. rex” suggests to us that the Papo brown standing T. rex dinosaur figure plays the detective role in Henry’s imaginative tales.  Using familiar models will help young readers to buy into the story, they can even recreate some of the story lines themselves (as well as inventing a few new ones).

The Papo Standing Tyrannosaurus rex Model (Brown)

Papo T.r ex figures.

The Papo brown T. rex figure with the Papo baby Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available from Archway Publishing Online Bookstore: “Dinosaur Detective – Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”

ISBN: 978-1-4808-3766-9 (soft cover) or hardback version 978-1-4808-3767-6 and in addition, a downloadable E-book is available.

Author, Nicole commented:

“It’s important for children and parents to read, play and discover together, so what better way to do it than with dinosaurs?  Through Henry’s obsession with dinosaurs, he has not only learned an encyclopaedic wealth of information, but I have too.”

We wish mum and son the very best of luck and we hope that “Thomas the T.rex” is able to crack all his cases.

17 04, 2017

Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2017) Reviewed

By | April 17th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|1 Comment

A Review of Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2017)

Issue 121 (Spring 2017), of the quarterly magazine “Prehistoric Times” has just arrived and this edition of the popular journal for dinosaur fans and prehistoric animal model enthusiasts has a distinctly “English” feel to it.  Yes, we know the front cover features the amazing artwork of the highly influential Zdeněk Burian, an artist and palaeo illustrator from Czechoslovakia.  This issue contains details of Burian’s commissioned artwork used to help illustrate fiction, one of a series of articles all about the great man written by John Lavas.  However, also included is a feature on London-born, Alice Bolingbroke Woodward, who like Burian, was a pioneer of prehistoric animal illustration, plus look out for Phil Hore’s informative piece on a very enigmatic English Theropod Metriacanthosaurus and the John Sibbick Reader Art.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Issue 121

The front cover of Prehistoric Times magazine (Spring 2017).

The front cover of prehistoric times magazine (Spring 2017).

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” features artwork by Zdeněk Burian.

To learn more about “Prehistoric Times” and to subscribe visit the website: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Pliosaurs and the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The “English theme” continues with our chum Anthony Beeson’s contribution, a short article highlighting the extensive marine reptile collection associated with the Bristol City Museum.  Anthony discusses the historical significance of the specimens, many of which were originally collected by Mary Anning. He then brings us right up to date with details about a forthcoming marine reptile exhibition that runs from June 17th until early January 2018.

Phil Hore’s second contribution in the magazine, is an article on the bizarre Therapsid Estemmenosuchus, fossils of which come from the Urals, however, Phil’s article begins with comments made by the 19th Century English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley.  It turns out that “Darwin’s Bulldog” got these cow-sized beasties completely wrong.  Look out for some fantastic reader artwork that accompanies this article.

The Sound of the Mesozoic

Robert Telleria continues to put the spotlight on the artwork associated with sound recordings that feature prehistoric animals and on the subject of artwork, check out “What color were dinosaurs?”  Mike Fredericks and Tracy Lee Ford have collaborated on a new dinosaur themed colouring book.  It is reviewed in the “Mesozoic Media” section of the magazine.  Lots of palaeontology news including the discovery of new species of horned dinosaur (Yehuecauhceratops mudei) from Mexico is discussed and check out the wonderful Siats meekerorum illustration by Fabio Pastori.

Yehuecauhceratops mudei – A New Mexican Horned Dinosaur

Yehuecauhceratops Museum Replica

Scientists have constructed a model of the Mexican dinosaur called Yehuecauhceratops.

Picture Credit: Museo del Desierto, Mexico (The Coahuila Desert Museum)

Paying Tribute to Aurora Prehistoric Scenes

Our favourite article in the Spring edition of “Prehistoric Times”, comes from Steve Kelley, who takes readers on a very personal journey as he discusses his love of the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes model series.  What a fantastic collection Steve has been able to amass!  Ironically, this, very informative article does not include any pictures of the “Jungle Swamp” set, which was voted amongst Everything Dinosaur team members as our favourite.  Perhaps it will feature in part two, which is promised for issue 122.

Our Favourite Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Model Set – “The Jungle Swamp”

Aurora Prehistoric Scenes "Jungle Swamp".

Super Aurora Model Kit from childhood.

To subscribe to Prehistoric Times Magazine: Prehistoric Times Magazine

19 02, 2017

A Review of “Giants of the Lost World”

By | February 19th, 2017|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

“Giants of the Lost World” Reviewed

The fauna and flora of South America has always fascinated scientists and academics.  Animals that are around today, such as the giant otter, the bizarre peccary, anacondas and the jaguar, which pound for pound has the strongest bite of any living big cat, are mere shadows of what was once an astonishing menagerie, the likes of which were found nowhere else on Earth.  The public’s imagination has been fuelled by tales of the monsters that once roamed this continent.  American palaeontologist and author Donald Ross Prothero builds on this legacy in his new book “Giants of the Lost World” which documents and describes the incredible prehistoric animals that once dominated South America, many of which truly deserve the mantle of “monsters”!

The Front Cover of “Giants of the Lost World”

"Giants of the Lost World" front cover.

“Giants of the Lost World” by Donald R. Prothero.

Picture Credit: Smithsonian Books

A Window into a Lost World

Professor Prothero gently guides the reader through the history of research and study of the many extinct prehistoric animals of South America, but first he sets the scene.  He discusses the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the adventure story “The Lost World” in 1912.  In Conan Doyle’s tale, plucky Professor Challenger leads a party of explorers to the top of a remote and isolated plateau discovering that dinosaurs and flying reptiles had survived into the 20th Century.  This influential novel has been the basis of many films, radio programmes and television series.  Sir Arthur was very probably inspired by the accounts of his good friend Percy Harrison Fawcett, who led an expedition to the Huanchaca Plateau (Bolivia) and encountered many strange animals that live atop the rocky plateau which rises upwards of nine hundred metres above sea level.

In truth, the non-avian Dinosauria and their kin are long gone, but the fossil assemblage left behind documents a remarkable prehistoric fauna, that once helped shape the thinking of Charles Darwin.  The largest land animals known to science (Titanosaurs) and some of the huge carnivores that preyed upon them, are discussed and the author skilfully updates readers on the fascinating debate about which was the biggest land carnivore of all – look out for the section comparing mega-sized carcharodontosaurids with the equally impressive Spinosaurs.

South America was home to a whole host of unusual meat-eating dinosaurs from the stumpy-limbed Alvarezsauridae with their reduced digits, to the “raptors”, ferocious Deinonychosaurs and the truly odd, apex predators, the abelisaurids.  This book is crammed full of fascinating facts and information that will delight both dinosaur fans and the general reader.

One of South America’s Unusual Giant Theropods – Carnotaurus (C. sastrei)

The South American abelisaurid Carnotaurus (C. sastrei).

A spectacular photograph of the bizarre South American abelisaurid Carnotaurus (C. sastrei).

Picture Credit: Smithsonian Books

Beautiful Illustrations, Photographs and Full Colour Plates

“Giants of the Lost World” is jam-packed with photographs, colour plates and beautiful illustrations.  Look out in particular for the detailed images included in this most informative text by the very talented Nobumichi Tamura.  We congratulate the author, for his provision of helpful notes and explanations that accompany the images and the very straight-forward and matter-of-fact manner in which he tackles quite complex and challenging areas of current palaeontological research, such as unravelling the family tree of the Sloths and their relatives (Xenarthra).  After all, who can’t help but be intrigued with chapter titles such as “Killer Opossums”, “The Slow Folk” and “Pseudo-Elephants”!

To purchase this very well written and highly informative volume: Smithsonian Books

As a specialist in mammalian evolution, Professor Prothero is an ideal candidate to document and explain the evolutionary history of the marsupials and placentals that once thrived in South America.  Some of these strange creatures migrated northwards, when South America’s isolation ended around three million years ago.  You might be familiar with the Smilodon fossils of the La Brea tar pits of Los Angeles, but the largest of the Smilodon species was a resident of the southern portion of the Americas (S. populator), it would have dwarfed the Sabre-Toothed Cats of the United States and was one of the largest felids to have ever lived.

A Colour Plate from the Book Illustrating the Skull and Huge Canines of Smilodon

Smilodon skull fossil.

A view of the skull of a Smilodon.

Picture Credit: Smithsonian Books

The Land of Reptilian Monsters 

The dinosaurs did not hold the monopoly when it came to giant reptiles.  After the demise of the “terrible lizards”, new reptilian monsters evolved.  The immense fossilised shell of a super-sized turtle (Stupendemys), is proof that monstrous reptiles lived in South America as recently as five million years ago.  The bus-sized Titanoboa is discussed in detail and for fans of crocodiles, this book has plenty to sink your teeth into too.  You might be familiar with apex predators such as the fourteen-metre-long “super caiman” Purussaurus, known from Colombia, Brazil and Peru, but “Giants of the Lost World” contains one or two crocodilian surprises as well.  Check out the curious Mourasuchus, which matched Purussaurus in terms of size, but it may have fed in a similar way to a giant duck!

Everything Dinosaur’s Well-Thumbed Copy of “Giants of the Lost World”

Book cover "Giants of the Lost World"

Everything Dinosaur’s copy of “Giants of the Lost World”.

Picture Credit: Smithsonian Books

This highly informative and well-written book draws to a close with an epilogue that takes a sanguine tone, reflecting on the threats to the existing wildlife of South America, much of which is critically endangered.  Professor Prothero concludes that the extant animals and plants of this enigmatic continent may only be a shadow of a once mighty and monstrous assemblage, but there is still time to reverse the habitat destruction and climate change that threatens to erase the remnants of an amazing biological legacy.

This excellent book does much to raise awareness concerning the diverse and eclectic cast of prehistoric characters that once roamed South America.  Highly recommended.

The book can be purchased here: Smithsonian Books

Book Details:

Title: “Giants of the Lost World: Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Monsters of South America” by Donald R. Prothero.

Publisher: Smithsonian Books

Pages: 174 with 16 colour plates

ISBN: 9781588345738

15 01, 2017

Prehistoric Times Winter 2017 Reviewed

By | January 15th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times Issue 120 Reviewed

Our dinosaur themed reading material for the New Year gets off to a cracking start with the arrival of the latest instalment of “Prehistoric Times”, the magazine for fans of prehistoric animals and dinosaur model collectors.  Issue 120’s front cover showcases the remarkable artwork of British palaeoartist John Sibbick and the dramatic image is a foretaste of the exciting contents as this latest edition of the quarterly magazine is packed full of fantastic artwork and articles.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Winter 2017)

Prehistoric Times Issue 117

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine (Winter 2017).

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Long-spined, Short-tailed Wyoming Stegosaur

Renowned palaeontologist Kenneth Carpenter (museum director of the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum in Utah), has penned a highly informative feature on a new type of Stegosaur from the Morrison Formation (Alcovasaurus longispinus).  The copy includes a skeletal reconstruction of this long-spined, short tailed member of the Thyreophora by Gregory S. Paul, look out for an in-depth article on Gregory S. Paul’s second edition of the excellent “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”, a book that Everything Dinosaur team members have been fortunate to review.  “Prehistoric Times” editor, Mike Fredericks provides further insight and Greg has written an article giving readers an inside track on how the second edition came together.

Recommended Reading for Fans of Dinosaurs

"The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs" - 2nd edition.

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs (second edition).

Picture Credit: Princeton University Press

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

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”: A Review of the Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs

Toxodon and Concavenator

Phil Hore provides the information on the two featured prehistoric animals that grace the winter issue (Toxodon and the Theropod Concavenator).  Look out for some splendid reader submitted illustrations, the mother and baby Toxodon sketch by Clinton Harris being our personal favourite, although Ryan McMurry’s aggressive looking Concavenator runs it close.  Check out the illustration of Concavenator on page 16, as well as the Ceratopsian sketches that accompany news about new CollectA models for 2017.  Eagle-eyed readers may well recognise these illustrations from Everything Dinosaur’s own fact sheets.  Tracy Lee Ford focuses very much on the Theropoda with an examination of the jaw mechanics of big meat-eating dinosaurs.  Tracy informs us that this article is his 98th contribution to “Prehistoric Times”, we look forward to celebrating Tracy’s centenary of prehistoric prose – look out for this in issue 122!

2016 Palaeontology in Perspective

American Steve Brusatte, based at the University of Edinburgh, has produced a beautifully composed piece that reviews the big dinosaur palaeontology news stories of 2016.  It’s a fantastic summary and it is great to see the likes of Dracoraptor included, a new Early Jurassic dinosaur discovered by brothers Nick and Rob Hanigan.  Look out for the explanation for the survival of birds put forward by a team of scientists led by Derek Larson (University of Toronto), seed eating may have helped the Aves survive the Cretaceous mass extinction event!

Palaeozoic Fish and Invertebrates – Zdeněk Burian

John Lavas continues the series of articles on Zdeněk Burian, the Czech artist and book illustrator, regarded as one of the pioneers of scientific illustration.  In this edition, the focus is on Palaeozoic fishes and invertebrates and a number of Burian’s wonderful illustrations adorn the pages of “Prehistoric Times”.

Zdeněk Burian’s Illustration of the Cambrian Painted in 1951

Cambrian life.

Life in the Cambrian by Zdeněk Burian.

Picture Credit: Zdeněk Burian.com

“Prehistoric Times” issue 120 also includes articles on the Marx model series, the role of music in prehistoric animal movies (the Sound of Mesozoic), more wonderful examples of John Sibbick’s artwork plus news on the latest models and kits.

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

7 01, 2017

Preparing for Prehistoric Times (Winter 2017)

By | January 7th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times – Sneak Preview (Winter 2017)

Banish those January blues with a sneak preview of the next issue of the magazine for dinosaur fans and collectors of prehistoric animal merchandise – “Prehistoric Times”.  The next issue of this quarterly magazine is currently at the printers and once off the presses it will be rushed out to subscribers at tip-top speed.  Once again, it is a spectacular front cover as a Pterosaur aims to avoid getting caught up in a tornado whilst of group of alarmed Ceratopsians look on from below.

Due Out Very Soon Prehistoric Times Issue 120

Prehistoric Times Issue 117

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine (Winter 2017).

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Gregory S. Paul’s “Field Guide to Dinosaurs”

One of the highlights of issue 120 will be a feature on Gregory S. Paul’s “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”.  As this blog article is being written, the second edition of this book sits proudly on the desk.  It is being used as a reference to check some information on the Late Triassic Theropod Coelophysis bauri in preparation for a revised and updated fact sheet we are writing.  The forthcoming magazine will focus on this book and provide a comprehensive review of this excellent hardback which has been compiled by one of the most respected dinosaur experts and illustrators.  On the subject of illustrators, the magazine will continue its trend of commemorating some of the best palaeoartists from times gone by with an article about Zdeněk Burian, the Czech artist and book illustrator, regarded as one of the pioneers of scientific illustration.

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

Toxodon and Concavenator

The two featured prehistoric animals in issue 120 are the large herbivorous mammal Toxodon and the Early Cretaceous Theropod Concavenator.  We are looking forward to seeing all the reader supplied artwork along with all the regular items such as Tracy Lee Ford’s immensely informative “How to Draw Dinosaurs” and Phil Hore’s prehistoric creature profiles.   The winter 2017 edition will also include a review of the top news stories on fossils and dinosaur discoveries over the last twelve months – this really is a jam-packed magazine.

Not too long to wait now, until our copy of “Prehistoric Times” arrives at the office.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”: A Review of the Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs

31 12, 2016

A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales Reviewed

By | December 31st, 2016|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Review of “A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales”

We are very lucky in this country, we have some magnificent British countryside to enjoy in conjunction with a rich and diverse geology.  Fossil collecting can be a great way to explore the natural world.  Surrounded by stunning scenery, allowing you a brief disconnect from a busy lifestyle, travelling back in time to explore ancient, prehistoric worlds and the myriad of plants and animals that inhabited them.  However, how to start and perhaps more importantly, where to look?  These are questions that are frequently emailed to us.  Fortunately, help is at hand, thanks to two dedicated and enthusiastic fossil hunters, who have set aside their geological hammers to compile a guide to fossil collecting in England and Wales.

“A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales”

Fossil collecting book.

“A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales”.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

UKAFH – UK Amateur Fossil Hunters

Written by Steve Snowball and Craig Chapman, leading lights in the UKAFH (UK Amateur Fossil Hunters) organisation, this book provides a wonderful introduction to fossil hunting as a hobby as well as containing a wealth of information and advice for the seasoned fossil collector.  It’s a practical book, just the right size for slipping into a rucksack pocket and it gives details on more than fifty fossil hunting locations in England and Wales.

Drawing upon their extensive knowledge, the authors take the reader through three geological eras – the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and the Cenozoic and highlight where in England and Wales fossils, representing life from each of these eras, can be found.  At the beginning of each section, a handy geological timescale in conjunction with the locations featured, permits readers to see at a glance the context of each site within deep time.  The individual site entries are very informative, explaining clearly and concisely where to find fossils and what to look for.  “A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales” distinguishes itself from other fossil collecting books by using a simple site summary to highlight key points regarding safe fossil collecting from each carefully selected location.  Top marks to Steve and Craig, for thoughtfully adding details of the nearest postcode to many of the sites, a boon for those using satellite navigation to travel back in time.

Each Carefully Selected Fossil Hunting Location Comes Complete with a Handy Site Summary

Site summary in fossil guide book.

Each carefully selected location is furnished with a handy site summary.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An Ideal Companion for Both Hobby Collectors and Experienced Professionals

The book is illustrated with beautiful photographs of the locations as well as numerous pictures showcasing the types of fossil that can be found at each site.  It is a family friendly publication, aimed at providing a stimulus for those new to the hobby to explore our country’s rich fossil heritage.  In addition, the authors have skilfully embellished each entry with insightful and informative details, of assistance to even the most experienced palaeontologist.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are familiar with many of the places featured in this fossil hunting guide, but we found that there was still plenty to learn from this lovingly compiled publication.  Knowledge gained from leading numerous UKAFH fossil hunting trips has been woven together to fill a gap in the publishing industry’s portfolio, here is a book written by passionate fossil collectors, for fellow enthusiasts and, for those just starting out.

Helpful and Useful Information to Assist Fossil Hunters

A well illustrated fossil hunting guide to England and Wales.

An essential companion for hobbyists and for more experienced fossil collectors.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An Essential Guide to Fossil Hunting in England and Wales

With a foreword from the highly-respected palaeontologist Dean Lomax, “A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales” is an essential guidebook to fossil hunting.  It explains how and where to look for fossils, what tools are required and how to prepare and preserve your specimens.  There is even a section dedicated to identifying and labelling fossil finds and we commend the authors for including copious amounts of information about safe and responsible collecting, as well as highlighting the Fossil Collecting Code.

Straight forward guides to stratigraphy, fantastic fossil pictures and jam-packed with helpful tips and advice, “A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales”, is an ideal reference for students, amateurs, professionals and for families looking for a rewarding day out.

Make room on your bookshelf for this publication, although we suspect it won’t stay on there for long, it will be out with you, providing a worthy companion to your own time travelling adventures.

“A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales”

ISBN: 978 992997991

Pages: 288

Publisher: Siri Scientific Press

Release date: February 1st 2017 (RRP = £18.00)

Advance copies can be purchased from Siri Scientific Press: Purchase “A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales” here!

4 12, 2016

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs: 2nd Edition Reviewed

By | December 4th, 2016|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs: 2nd Edition Reviewed

In 2011, team members at Everything Dinosaur had the pleasure of reviewing “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs” by Gregory S. Paul.  A second edition of this book has just been published, it reflects the dramatic increase in our knowledge of the Dinosauria that has taken place over the last five years or so.  This updated and revised edition is essential reading for fans of dinosaurs, as well as academics and professional palaeontologists.

The Front Cover of “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”

"The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs" - 2nd edition.

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs (second edition).

Picture Credit: Princeton University Press

A Comprehensive Overview of the Dinosauria

This large format book, is more than ten percent bigger than its predecessor, a testament to the increase in the number of new dinosaur genera and species that have been discovered.  The second edition includes details of some one hundred new dinosaur species plus updated illustrations and information on very well-known prehistoric animals such as Triceratops and Brontosaurus.

Using the tried and tested formula of the first book, Gregory S. Paul guides the reader through the history of dinosaur research, before defining dinosaurs and introducing some of the latest ideas about their biology, senses, vocalisation and pathologies.  The author considers aspects of dinosaur behaviour including an assessment of dinosaurs as social, herding animals.  Particular attention is given to the evolution and loss of avian flight, in fact, throughout this volume, the close relationship between the Aves (birds) and Dinosauria is emphasised and exquisitely illustrated with a plethora of feathered dinosaur drawings.

Group and Species Accounts

Each of the main groups of dinosaurs, the Theropods, Sauropodomorphs and the Ornithischians is taken in turn and skilfully segmented to reveal their anatomical relationships.  Many of the individual dinosaur descriptions have been extensively revised and expanded, none more so than the likes of Deinocheirus mirificus that adorns the front cover, just one of over two hundred new and updated illustrations.

Gregory S. Paul has done a great deal to help change people’s perceptions towards the Dinosauria, his latest book, “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”, has clearly been a labour of love for this leading dinosaur illustrator and researcher.  It is crammed full of fascinating information, beautiful drawings and the author’s trademark skeletal reconstructions.  This new for 2016 edition, remains a must-have for avid dinosaur fans as well as appealing to the general reader with an interest in how some of the most spectacular lifeforms to have ever existed on our planet evolved and flourished.

Filled with Beautiful Illustrations “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs

Wonderful dinosaur drawings Stenonychosaurus inequalis (nomen dubium).

Picture Credit: Gregory S. Paul (Princeton University Press)

Book Details:

Title: “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs” by Gregory S. Paul

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9780691167664

More details and book orders can be made here: “Princeton University Press”

Recently, Everything Dinosaur reviewed the excellent “The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals”, an up-to-date guide to the diverse and eclectic prehistoric mammals that evolved after the extinction of the Dinosauria.  This volume includes many reconstructions of prehistoric mammals never before depicted.

To read our review of this well-researched and superbly illustrated book: The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals

Two Books Definitely Worth Adding to Your Christmas Shopping List

Great prehistoric animal books.

Two superb prehistoric animal books.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

30 10, 2016

The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals Reviewed

By | October 30th, 2016|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Review of The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals

Had you been around in the middle of the 19th Century and taken the opportunity to visit any one of the burgeoning number of natural history museums, you would not have found fossils of dinosaurs dominating the main galleries.  Prior to the American “bone wars” that led to the naming and describing of a number of iconic dinosaurs from the western United States, it was the many and varied prehistoric mammals that held centre stage.  Visitors would have marvelled at the fossilised bones of giant sloths, the antlers of immense ancient elks, bizarre elephants with downward pointing tusks and long-extinct cats with sabre-teeth.

Today, we have a much better understanding of the animals that came to dominate the Earth after the demise of the dinosaurs, more knowledge than the Victorians would ever have imagined.  These prehistoric beasts, their evolutionary history, diversity and variety are documented in a new book by Princeton University Press – “The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals”.  Written by American palaeontologist Donald Ross Prothero (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and Professor Emeritus of Geology at Occidental College) and beautifully illustrated by renowned scientific illustrator Mary Persis Williams, this publication is a “must have” for academics and for fans of fossils as well as anyone with an interest in general science.

The Front Cover of “The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals”

Documenting prehistoric mammals.

“The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals”.

Picture Credit: Princeton University Press

A Comprehensive Inventory of Prehistoric Mammals

Following a similar format to “The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs”, compiled by Gregory S. Paul (expect a review of the second edition of this excellent dinosaur book shortly on this blog site), the author provides a general overview on the evolutionary history of the Mammalia before moving on to describe in detail representatives of each of the major groups of fossil mammals.  Mary’s fantastic drawings are augmented with stunning pictures of key fossils and the easy-to-follow text is supported by numerous cladistic diagrams that help to demonstrate the taxonomic relationships between the different types of prehistoric mammal featured in this comprehensive overview.

The Messel Shale Beds of Germany

Highlights include an extensive cataloguing of insectivorous mammals, bats (Chiroptera) and early primates illustrated by a number of detailed images showcasing the exquisite mammal fossils excavated from the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Messel Shales.  Readers can learn how, over time, horses evolved from cat-sized forest creatures to the long-limbed animals of today, or indeed how the ancestry of dolphins and whales can be traced back to hoofed, terrestrials.

The Fossil Jaws of the Eocene Toothed Whale Basilosaurus

Basilosaurus whale skull.

The primitive whale Basilosaurus is featured in chapter 14 (pp 162-163).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 There is certainly a great deal to commend this book.  Each of the major groups of mammals is discussed in turn, no mean feat, given the great abundance and variety of Cenozoic mammals that are recorded in the fossil record.  After all, dinosaur discoveries may make headlines, but as any vertebrate palaeontologist will tell you, the fossil record of the Mammalia over the last sixty-six million years or so is much more complete and arguably, a lot more complicated.

It is the little flourishes that appeal the most, those little details that demonstrate that this was a book that has been crafted, with the author and illustrator united in the desire to tell the story of our closest relatives in the tree of life.  For example, there is an extensive “Further Reading” section at the end of the book and within the index a handy pronunciation guide has been provided.

Thoughtful and Provocative

The closing chapter, (chapter 18), sets out to answer some of the questions associated with mammalian evolution after the Cretaceous mass extinction event that saw the end of the non-avian dinosaurs and many other kinds of giant reptile.  The author tackles questions such as “how did mammals diversify after the dinosaurs vanished?”  “Why were some prehistoric mammals so big and why have most of the huge mammals disappeared?”  These are the sort of questions that may well have vexed those Victorian visitors to museums, such questions still fascinate and Donald R. Prothero skilfully constructs answers, illustrating the points made in support of his arguments with some of the latest research on prehistoric mammals.  As to the future, the closing remarks in this 240-page volume, make sober reading.  Many mammals are on the brink of extinction, iconic mammals of today, may not be around within the lifetime of the people reading this book.

Due out towards the end of November 2016, “The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals” is highly recommended.

More details and book orders can be made here: “Princeton University Press”

Book Details:

Title: “The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals” by by Donald R. Prothero, with illustrations by Mary Persis Williams

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9780691156828

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