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"Walking with Dinosaurs": A Natural History - Tim Haines

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Genre: Science / Nature / Author: Tim Haines / Hardcover / 288 Pages / Book is published 1999-09-30 by BBC Books

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      27.08.2010 15:15
      Very helpful



      A lovely book, highly recommended.

      Ages 10+
      Although much younger children will enjoy looking at the pictures, I feel that most under age 10 will struggle reading this as it really is written for adults. What I do though is read it myself, condense the information into a few short sentences per page that my son can understand, and then tell him about the dinosaurs.

      This book is based on the popular BBC programme of the same name. The book is illustrated with photographs of the dinosaurs created for the film, but they are so lifelike, it looks as if someone were able to travel back in time with a camera and snap photos of actual dinosaurs. what a wonderful improvement over many of the old hastily drawn dinosaurs in books when I was young.

      I am afraid I can not offer a terribly scientific review of this book. My main interest in was just to offer more information on dinosaurs to my child, so please keep in mind this is just review from an average parent with no scientific back ground. I must say though, that is one of the reasons I really like this book. It is not written for the paleontologist or even university professor. It is written for ordinary everyday people like myself, and as such id both enjoyable to read and easy to understand.

      The book starts 220 million years ago in the middle of the Triassic period with the emergence of the dinosaurs as the dominant species on earth. It gives an account as if a naturalist is observing these creatures in the wild, as to what the day might be like for the herd the writer is following. In this way the book is much like reading the accounts of a naturalist like Sir David Attenborough observing the natural world, except of course this world no longer exists. It also covers, the climate and weather, the plants and other creatures. Of course this means there is some speculation. For instance when the author describes the colouring and markings on a dinosaur, this is largely guess work as we really do not know what colour dinosaurs were. Also much of the descriptions of behaviour is taken from modern predators. The description of the Utha raptors hunting and social behaviour sounds very much like that of a wolf pack to me.

      So perhaps the authors may guess some things wrong. In fact I find highly unlikely that he would get every guess on colouring, behaviour etc correct, but there really is no way to know for certain now. This book is not strictly facts, but it is all plausible and supported by scientific evidence. But it does make the book so much more readable, as you can really feel as if you are there, peering through the undergrowth, spying back through time.

      The book has all sorts of other interesting information as well, such as parenting, vocalisation and speculation as to whether some of these creatures may have been warm blooded, and a nice section on the pack behaviour of utahraptors. There is also some mention of few animals besides reptiles. I quite liked the inclusion of a giant a voracious salamander with 10 cm teeth. As I keep salamanders myself, I could only imagine something like this.

      The book comes to a close at the very end of the cretaceous period with the impact of comet which triggers the mass die out of the giants. they also provide evidence to support this theory, which is the dominant theory as to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

      A few side bits:

      The television programme was actually inspired by Jurassic Park and the book does include a nice snippet on midges trapped in amber, in reference to the movie. It does not speculate in anyway on possible cloning of the beast though :)

      For those interested in how the models were made you can see a bit at this site: http://www.dinosaurlive.com/index.php/about-the-show/makingof/


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