Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Book by Greg Paul

I've just been sent a copy of Gregory S. Paul's new book, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs! The 320 page hardcover volume is jam-packed with over 600 illustrations of over 735 different types of dinosaurs, many of which even I have not heard of before. Skeletal reconstructions are supplemented with color pencil illustrations and in a few cases stunning environmental reconstructions. I must admit there is a huge amount of information packed into this book, and even a hyper-dino-nerd like me has not had a chance to read every single word of it yet. Luckily it is very heavily illustrated, for those of us that cheat by looking at pictures.

The book begins with a 65 page section of text and illustration covering dinosaur research, anatomy and biology. After that it dives headlong into the dinosaurs, arranged by type. Not surprisingly the theropods are first. Each species of dinosaur is listed with a brief description giving their size, how much of the animal is known, distinguishing characteristics, age, distribution and some special notes. Several of TPI's dinosaur specimens are illustrated including "Sandy" the Pachycephalosaurus and "C1/C2" the unnamed North American oviraptor now housed at the Carnegie Museum.

Paul takes some liberties with the taxonomic assignments, seemingly destroying some types of dinosaurs and ruining people's childhoods in the process, however this is a general interest book, not intended for use by scholars. Parents with children interested in dinosaurs may have to spend some time explaining what happened to Lambeosaurus, Torosaurus or even Daspletosaurus. And then there is the seeming revival of Brontosaurus, an issue that sometimes makes me want to pull out what little hair I have left! On the bright side there is elimination of Opisthocoelocaudia, so at least we don't have to stumble through that name anymore.

Would I recommend this book? Most certainly! It is leaps and bounds better than the stuff I had available to me as a child, and it would have kept my interest for days on the first read-through. The price is right too at $35.00, and can be found online for even less. If you're a parent that has a dino-lover in the family, this would make an excellent holiday gift!

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