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 JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!

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JD-man
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:49 pm

My 47th review for this thread is a positive 1 for the 2004 edition of Dinosaur (DK Eyewitness Books). If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a very good book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

The best edition ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RZ0S3CGZFRCPL/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 4/5

As far as I know, there are 5 editions of Dinosaur (DK Eyewitness Books) (henceforth DD 1989/2004/2008/2010/2014). As much as I love DD, it was never truly great: For 1, see the Ben quote; What Ben says about "the AMNH fossil halls" goes for DD; For another, DD is a mixed bag in terms of paleoart.* If you want the current best DD-style book, get Abramson et al.'s Inside Dinosaurs. If I were to recommend reading an edition of DD in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs), it'd be DD 2004. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why that is.

1) In reference to "For 1" (which mainly refers to DD 1989), DD 2004 partially solves this problem with "8 pages of new text", all of which are "distinctly color-coded". This is especially apparent in the "Find out more" & Glossary sections: The former lists some of the best dino museums in the U.S. & their websites (which is good because [1] it makes DD interactive, & [2] to quote Norman/Milner, "You can also take a virtual tour of many museums over the internet if you cannot visit them in person"); The latter clearly explains all technical terms. DD 2008 is almost exactly the same in content, the problem being that much of what was accurate in 2004 was inaccurate in 2008 (E.g. The records for "biggest dinosaur", "biggest meat-eater", & "shortest dinosaur name"). DD 2010/2014 have the opposite problem as DD 1989. While DD 1989 is too esoteric, DD 2010/2014 are too simple & condescending (E.g. "Hadrosaur" is defined 10 times throughout DD 2010, including twice on page 70). & if that's not bad enough, DD 2010/2014 are even more inaccurate for their time (probably because they're authored by a non-expert) & exclude said websites.

2) In reference to "For another", DD 2004 partially solves this problem with "stunning real-life photographs of dinosaur bones, skulls, teeth and more". This is especially apparent in the "and more" photos: Many of DD 1989's not-so-good life reconstructions, most of which were outdated even in 1989, were replaced in DD 2004 (E.g. Hill & Winterbotham's tail-dragging Mamenchisaurus & Diplodocus, respectively, were replaced by a herd of Graham High's Brachiosaurus); Many of those that weren't replaced got new captions (E.g. The new caption for Graham High's Deinonychus reads, "Most scientists now agree that, unlike the model shown here, Deinonychus was probably feathered"). Pixel-shack's bad life reconstructions started to replace DD's good ones in 2008 & almost completely took over in 2010/2014. Pixel-shack's "DK 2003" Velociraptor ( https://i037.radikal.ru/0805/62/0f35f1cca590.jpg ) replacing the AMNH's "Fighting Dinos" Velociraptor ( http://65.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lru07qBMv11qio57co1_1280.jpg ) is an especially good example of that.

*I'm specifically referring to DD's life reconstructions, many of which are not-so-good (I.e. Those by various illustrators & Pixel-shack in the older & newer editions, respectively).

Quoting Ben ( https://extinctmonsters.net/2015/02/26/framing-fossil-exhibits-phylogeny/ ):
Quote :
Within the actual fossil halls, interpretation remains stubbornly unapproachable. For example, the sign introducing proboscidians tells visitors that this group is defined primarily by eye sockets located near the snout. An observant visitor might wonder why scientists rely on such an obscure detail, as opposed to the obvious trunks and tusks. There’s a good teaching moment there concerning why some characteristics might face more selection pressure (and thus change more radically) than others, but instead visitors are only offered esoteric statements. Relatedly, the exhibit does little to prioritize information. Most label text is quite small, and there’s a lot of it. Compare this to Evolving Planet at the Field Museum, where there is a clear hierarchy of headings and sub-headings. Visitors can read the main point of a display without even stopping, and parents can quickly find relevant information to answer their charges’ questions (rather than making something up).
Evolving Planet also compares favorably to the AMNH fossil halls in its informative aesthetics and spatial logic. At FMNH, walls and signs in each section are distinctly color-coded, making transitions obvious and intuitive. Likewise, consistent iconography...such as the mass extinction zones...helps visitors match recurring themes and topics throughout the exhibit. AMNH, in contrast, has a uniform glass and white-walled Apple Store aesthetic. It’s visually appealing, but doesn’t do much to help visitors navigate the space in a meaningful way.


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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:42 pm

My 48th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Maynard's The Best Book of Dinosaurs. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Helpful" votes it can get because it's outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

Definitely NOT the best ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R797Y6F6B6JEW/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

In my experience, when a non-fiction dino book is given a superlative title, it's being set up for failure. As far as I know, only 1 such book lives up to its title & Maynard's The Best Book of Dinosaurs (henceforth BB) is definitely NOT it or even just decent in its own right.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) BB's life reconstructions are mostly not-so-good. Those by Kirk are as good as it gets in BB, while those by Forsey are as bad as it gets: In reference to Kirk, the ornithischians & Barosaurus are depicted with too many claws; Otherwise, the dinos are mostly accurate for the time & completely awesome for all time (E.g. See the Deinonychus on the back cover, which have tiger stripes & a lightning storm background); In reference to Forsey, I've already said everything I have to say about him in my Wonder review (I.e. "Wonder's more realistic reconstructions": https://www.amazon.com/review/RGU1QQZ5DR8A5/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ); Unfortunately, most of BB's life reconstructions are by Forsey. Those by Field fall somewhere in between, but more towards Forsey (E.g. See the Triceratops on the front cover, which have cartoonishly angry eyes & 4 clawed fingers per hand).

2) BB is a confusing mess in terms of organization. There isn't even an Introduction. BB just begins with a chapter about baby dinos & continues with no logical transitions or flow between the chapters.

3) BB fails to cover many dino-related subjects & those that are covered are done so in an insufficient manner:** Sometimes, it simplifies things to the point of being meaningless; This is especially apparent in the chapter about the dino extinction because 1) the main text explains nothing about the science behind the dino extinction story, & 2) the sidebar text needlessly re-tells said story; Other times, it's just plain wrong; This is especially apparent in said chapter because it's claimed that 1) the asteroid "hit Earth in Central America" (Last I checked, Mexico =/= Central America), & 2) only "some scientists think that dinosaurs were the ancestors of modern birds" (Quoting Witmer from a 1995 book: "There are so many derived similarities between birds and these Deinonychus-like theropod dinosaurs that most paleontologists today believe birds are theropod dinosaurs!").

*By "1 such book", I mean Holtz's Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages (Dinosaurs for short).

**By "many", I mean half of all the dino-related subjects a decent introduction to dinos would cover. Using Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs as a guide, BB fails to cover "The dinosaur world", "Getting about", "Living animals", "Dinosaurs and people", & "Dinosaurs and birds".
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:30 pm

My 49th review for this thread is a positive 1 for Rey's Extreme Dinosaurs. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Helpful" votes it can get because it's for a great book that deserves more attention. Many thanks in advance.

Extremely nostalgic ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1D5YN9OJS6MXU/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

If there's 1 thing I'm nostalgic for, it's Rey's traditional paleoart (which is overall better than his digital paleoart). If there's 1 thing I'm definitely NOT nostalgic for, it's the extreme dino genre (which is usually at best just a buzzword & at worst an excuse to make dinos as monstrous as possible). Not only is Rey's Extreme Dinosaurs (henceforth ED) the best extreme dino book, but also the best traditional Rey book.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Unlike other extreme dino books, "extreme" actually means something in ED. This is especially apparent in the 1st 2 chapters. Not only do said chapters define "extreme" (See the 1st Rey quote), but also use "the dinosaur-bird link" to reinforce that definition (See the 2nd Rey quote).

2) Unlike other extreme dino books, ED is very well-organized. More specifically, the middle chapters are arranged in both geographical & chronological order: In reference to "geographical", each chapter focuses on a different continent; In reference to "chronological", the chapters are arranged in order of their continent's 1st dino discovery, beginning with Europe & ending with Asia; Furthermore, the dinos in each chapter are described in order of their discovery (E.g. The Europe chapter begins with Iguanodon & ends with Scipionyx).

3) Unlike other extreme dino books, ED is very well-illustrated. The last chapter in particular features Rey's then-best/most bird-like dinos in terms of appearance & behavior. "Customising a life-size Velociraptor" (which, as far as I know, is the best Velociraptor model next to Kokoro's: http://www.luisrey.ndtilda.co.uk/html/custom.htm ) & "RAPTOR RED:Snow games" (which, as far as I know, is the best dino play behavior art, period: http://www.luisrey.ndtilda.co.uk/html/rapred.htm ) are especially good examples of the former & latter, respectively.

If I could, I'd give ED a 4.5/5. My only gripes are a few weird bits in the text (E.g. The Berlin Archaeopteryx is referred to as "the first Archaeopteryx fossil that was found") & writing (E.g. Some hadrosaurs are referred to as 4-legged, while others are referred to as 2-legged). However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5. I recommend reading ED in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's Dinosaurs) as well as "Luis V. Rey's Dinosaurs and Paleontology Art Gallery" (which provides more info about most of Rey's ED work).

*Gee/Rey's "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic" may be better in terms of paleoart (I.e. There's MUCH more of it), but definitely NOT in terms of text & writing.

Quoting Rey:
Quote :
There has never been a more exciting time to study dinosaurs. The better we get to know them, the more weird and wonderful and extreme they seem. We know a lot more about dinosaurs than we did when I was a kid. We used to think that dinosaurs were sluggish, cold blooded and not very bright. Then in 1964, Yale paleontologist John Ostrom found the arms and claws of a two-legged meat-eater he named Deinonychus...Deinonychus had enormous sickle-shaped claws on its feet. This meant that in order to kill its prey, it had to be able to leap into the air, cling to the victim with its hand claws, and slash with its feet. Deinonychus must have been a real acrobat. Could it be that dinosaurs were much more active than we had thought? Other extraordinary discoveries followed.

Quoting Rey:
Quote :
In 1988, my Deinonychus Pack was a controversial painting. Paleontologists who favored the idea of the dinosaur-bird link loved it. Others didn't. They thought dinosaur feathers were science fiction...they wanted to see scaly skin! Lots of evidence has piled up in favor of feathers since those days.
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PostSubject: Re: JD-man's Serious Dino Books/Dino-Related Reviews!   Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:24 pm

My 50th review for this thread is a negative 1 for Mash's Extreme Dinosaurs. If you haven't already, I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Helpful" for said review in the bolded link below. Besides wanting to make sure said review gives a good idea of what to expect, it needs all the "Helpful" votes it can get because it's outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

Extremely bad ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R10WWVQJN8L3MP/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

In my previous review, I referred to Rey's Extreme Dinosaurs as the best extreme dino book. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why Mash's Extreme Dinosaurs (henceforth ED) may be the worst extreme dino book.

1) Trish's ED review ( http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2011/07/lets-read-another-eye-searingly-bad.html ) sums up most everything you need to know about Martin's paleoart in ED. However, I'll add my own thoughts as well:
-Martin's Brachiosaurus & Edmontosaurus are shameless rip-offs of Graham High's Brachiosaurus model & the NHM's Baryonyx model, respectively.
-Remember when "Nigel-the-Pelican-flies-into-a-window" in Finding Nemo ( https://ohmy.disney.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2014/06/Nigel-the-Pelican-flies-into-a-window.jpg )? Martin's Microraptor is basically a Mockbuster version of that.
-Remember the "All Yesterdays Cat" ( https://i.warosu.org/data/sci/img/0073/83/1436510676473.jpg )? Martin's T.rex is basically a Shar-Pei version of that.

2) Martin's paleoart isn't the only "Eye-Searingly Bad" part of ED. There's also Mash's writing: For 1, it goes back & forth between uncomfortably large & uncomfortably small; For another, it goes back & forth between several different fonts; Taken together, it's extremely difficult just to look at it, let alone read the words. & if that's not bad enough, Mash's writing is also annoyingly repetitive (E.g. "First, they were used first to kill the prey, and then to slice the meat")/inconsistent (E.g. Some of the info boxes list length; Others list length & weight; Still others list length, weight, & height)/derivative (E.g. See the Mash quote, which shamelessly rips off Chapter 4 of Gardom/Milner's The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs).

3) Mash's text is hit-&-miss in terms of getting the facts straight. This is especially apparent in the info boxes because the misses stick out more with less text.* However, the other sidebar misses may be worse in degree: Some of them are due to being extremely outdated (E.g. Not only are pachycephalosaurs & heterodontosaurs claimed to be ornithopods, but ornithischians & saurischians are claimed to be no more closely related to each other than they are to crocs & pterosaurs); Others are due to being extremely nonsensical (E.g. The skeleton on pages 10-11 is "[seemingly] based on Marsh's 1880s "Brontosaurus" skeletal, complete with mismatched macronarian head", yet is referred to as that of Diplodocus).**

*Even if you only read the info boxes, you'll see that there's an average of at least 1 or 2 factual errors per page in ED, a 32 page book (E.g. Brachiosaurus =/= 150-140 MYA & "up to 90 tons").

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: The evolution and ecology of the Dinosaurs: Part 2".

Quoting Mash:
Quote :
It is estimated a human being could have been torn apart in less than thirty seconds by a pack of Velociraptors!
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