"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Friday, July 11, 2014

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Know What the Dinosaurs Really Looked Like?

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Know What the Dinosaurs Really Looked Like? by Catherine Thimmesh, 2013.

After reading this outstanding book by Sibert medalist Thimmesh, I learned that  nearly everything that I was taught in elementary school about dinosaurs was incomplete or just wrong. In pre 1975 class, I was told that dinos were cold blooded, related to reptiles, slow moving and stood upright with dragging tails. I learned about a creature called a Brontosaurus. And I was terrified of the Pterodactyl and had nightmares where one giant eye looked into my window before it carried away my house.

With the exception of my fear of winged dinosaurs, views on all of the above dinosaur "facts" have changed greatly and this book is full of them. Did you know that more than 700 species of dinosaurs have been identified? Or that the Brontosaurus' correct name is now the Apatasaurus? Or that dinos have both bird and reptile relatives and like them, they have no facial muscles? Thimmesh explains how scientists and amateur fossil hunters have made discoveries of bones, fossils and mummified animals that help them make very strong educated guesses about how the creatures moved, what they ate, what their skin was like (T-Rex may have been feathered!) and even what colors they may have been.

The book is dramatically illustrated by current paleoartists Sylvia & Stephen Czerkas, Mark Hallett, Tyler Keillor, Greg Paul and John Sibbick. Fascinating contrast with their work is provided by the inclusion of 19th century dinosaur art by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Charles R. Knight. These pictures underscore the evolution of our knowledge of dinosaurs and their lives. The endpapers show a timeline of the Mesozoic era and a breakdown of the three major dinosaur groups: Theropods, Sauropodomorphs and Ornithischians. Additional reading suggestions and a glossary are included.

Anyone with curiosity and an imagination for dinosaurs will love this book.

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