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When I think of dinosaur books, I usually think of children's books. Although this book was bought for my eight year old son, this is most certainly not a children's book. Most children will enjoy some aspects of this book, especially the illustrations but they will also need help to get the full use form this book. I bought this book because my son asked for a book on paleobotany as well as prehistoric entomology. The only paleobotany books we could find were at university level, and there is nothing for paleoentomology - it doesn't even appear to be a field of study. Yes I realise, I said this was a book for adults, and now I am saying that I didn't want a book at a university level, but there is a difference.
This book could be understood by any adult, or even an older child with a bit of help. It does not assume any prior knowledge of science. All of the other paleobotany books would have been too complex for me, let alone my eight year old son, they are really only suited to an adult with a strong science background. 'DK Prehistoric' is detailed and well written enough that a scientist could use this, and in fact I first came across the book at The Ulster Museum, where it was available for reference but not for sale. It was highly recommended by people with a lot more knowledge in this field than I have ( OK so that isn't saying much, but for a non scientist I am fairly well read on dinosaurs if only because of my children). This is presented in such a way that I had no difficulties at all in reading and comprehending the text. Although this does use scientific language, it often gives an explanation in layman's terms. For instance when the book mentions "acritarchs" it also tells us that this term means "microfossils of unknown affinity". A very good thing for me as I would have had no idea whatsoever what these things were without a little help. Of course a child may need a bit more help. My son could guess that microfossil means very small fossil, but unknown affinity also needed further explanation.
If you are looking for book only because of an interest in dinosaurs, I would not recommend this book. 'Planet Dinosaur' would be a far better choice, if you are only interested in the Mesozoic Era and dinosaurs. If you primarily want dinosaurs, but would like a less complicated look at prehistory in general - I would suggest 'DK Dinosaurs a children's Encyclopedia', even for adults. This book does have dinosaurs and what it has is brilliant. The photos are incredibly life like, the information clear and concise, and this a real pleasure to read, or even just to flick through the illustrations. But less than half of the book covers the Mesozoic Era, and even this has so much more than dinosaurs. This book begins with the origin of the Earth and stretches up through the evolution of humans. I would note that this book is the most detailed that I have ever read on human evolution - this book is really not going to suit a strict Creationist.
We bought this book specifically because it is the only book I have found that has much information on the evolution of plants. We really wanted to learn about which plants grew at the time of the dinosaurs. We are looking at how plants have changed over the centuries, and which ones have remained unchanged. We are even trying to collect and grow some plants referred to as "living fossils", those plants which have remained virtually unchanged since prehistoric times. We also liked the fact that this book has some information on insects for each period starting with the Devonian. This isn't as detailed as we would like, but it to date the best we have been able to find.
Although I bought this book for very specific and perhaps unusual reasons, the entire book really is a treasure trove of information. Some of the photos of dinosaurs and life in the early seas is repeated from ' DK Dinosaurs a children's Encyclopedia', and much of the information on these creatures is similar. However this isn't an exact copy and there is still a great deal more to learn, even if you already own the previous book - as I do. The descriptions here are longer and more complex. They are also more suitable for an adult.
This book is expensive. I got very lucky and picked up a copy used at £6.00 but used copies are usually very close in price to new ones. This is £19.20 new and delivered form amazon, but even at full price I do feel this book is value for money. The photos alone are worth the price. Many of the creatures do not look like they every could have existed outside of a sci film set, but they are fascinating. DK has had such life like models created for the illustrations it really feels as if you have stepped back to the dawn of time. My sons love these pictures - and so do I. I have spent many an hour just lost in wonder staring at these unbelievable life forms.
The text is every bit as good as the illustrations. This is absolutely fascinating and I believe it is incredibly educational. I know I have learned quite a lot from this book, and that I will continue to learn form this, as will my sons. This is a book that will brought out time and again - and they could still enjoy as adults. Of course the information may change over time. I brought out old dinosaur books from my childhood just for them to have a laugh at, but this book does represent the cutting edge of modern palaeontology.
I would highly recommend this for any adult with an interest in natural history, not only those with a specific interest in dinosaurs. This is a brilliant book for adults who like dinosaurs as well, as long as they have an interest in other prehistoric life as well. The animals from the Quaternary Period are fascinating as well. I believe this book is easy to understand that it would suit ages 12+ with minimal or no adult assistance. I can only recommend this for children under 12 if they have a specific interest in prehistory other than dinosaurs, and there is an adult who would be willing to help with explanations when needed.
Hardcover: 512 pages / Publisher: Dorling Kindersley / Published: 1 Oct 2009 / Language: English