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Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 28 Jul 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (28 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804198
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 11.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

...a fascinating series of brief, "all-you-need-to-know" introductions by experts to complex topics. (Iain Finlayson, The Times)

About the Author

David Norman is Director, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge University and directs major research groups in the areas of palaeobiology, anatomy and evolution. He has published extensively on Dinosaurs both for the general and academic market. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dinosaurs (Salamander/Crescent Books US 1985) has sold over half a million copies and was Library Journal Science Book of Year. Dinosaur! (Boxtree, 1992) was Library Journal Science Book of Year and Palaeontological Society (US) Best Popular Book 1996.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr M Robinson on 22 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Book is not a picture guide to dinosaurs - look elsewhere for this. This is a great introduction to the discovery of dinosaurs and theories and science that lead us to understand what we do about these large creatures. I found it a great read if a bit hurried at the end which was probably a consequence of the book format. Hence 4 stars.
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Not a bad book really for its size and price. But it was not really what I was expecting. It is less a general overview of what is known of the dinosaurs and much more a very detailed discussion of some aspects of *some* dinosaurs. The book is written by a palaeobiologist and it shows. We get *huge* technical detail about the physiology and biology of, in particular, Iguanodon and Archaeopterix (many pages are devoted to these two), but not a great deal else about other dinosaurs, and there are many. To be fair, the detailed cases of Iguanodon and Archaeopterix are meant to illustrate the biology of the dinosaurs in general and the link between birds and dinosaurs respectively, but one feels one has only received a patchy, and then overly-detailed, picture. There is little on the large, hulking herbivores like brontosaurus, and relatively little even on the great carnivores like T. Rex. Furthermore, the brief and uncategorised "further reading" section at the end is virtually useless.

In short, if you want great technical detail and intricate discussion of things like anatomy as this pertains to particular dinosaurs, this is the book for you. But if you're looking for a general overview of the world of the dinosaurs designed for the lay adult reader, this is not the place to start.
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I bought this on a bit of a whim - I'm not really sure why. I do love dinosaurs, but I didn't really need to know this much about them.

That said, I love this book! Completely fascinating, remarkable enjoyable (it's not really written like popular science, so I was a little daunted) and I now know way more about dinos, which can never be a bad thing!

If I were a scientist, or knew a lot about dinosaurs already, I'd probably have found it a little science light, but as it is it was perfect for me.

One for the committed amateur enthusiast, I think.
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4 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sharila on 27 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a rubbish monologue over a lot of uninteresting things, most of it having very little relation to dinosaurs at all. It was just listing up different paleontologists, what they found, when they found it, quarreling about who found it first, etc. I did not learn anything about dinosaurs!

I also bought other books in the same series, they were just as rubbish. I didnt even manage to finish this book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Introduction 25 Oct. 2006
By Roy A. Patchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book presents the scientific evidence about dinosaurs and covers the discoveries and controversies surrounding the subject. It is a bit longer than most of the other books in the OUP "Very Short Intro" series at over 160 pages. The author begins with the history of thought on dinosaurs. In the 19th century, they were generally considered slow, cold-blooded reptiles. More recently, they have come to be seen as active, probably warm-blooded, more bird-like creatures. Norman presents both sides of the numerous controversies surrounding dinosaurs, including the questions of warm-bloodedness, the cause of extinction, and the relationship of dinosaurs to modern birds. This is a serious scientific book and is not written for young children. It is, however, a great and painless introduction to the topic and is highly recommended.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Not really a kid's book . . . 25 Sept. 2006
By mikeinLA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The "Product Details" for this book, "Reading level: Ages 9-12," are wrong - it's definitely above that level. This is a short but informative book on dinosaurs by an author who has written some of the best material for the general reader. Unlike most dinosaur books, it's pretty short on illustrations - but for the price it covers a lot, and like the other books in this series it's small and fits in your pocket.
more of an introduction to paleontology or palaeobiology 22 Nov. 2014
By W. N. Hixon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a kid you read books about dinosaurs, and they focus on interesting species, depicting the interactions of a dinosaur with its environment, of predatory with prey, or of the various dinosaurs within a herd. This is not that kind of book. I think it would have been more aptly entitled, "The Study of Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction," because that is really what you get. Dr. Norman focuses on the different processes involved in and the struggles associated with the study of dinosaur remains. You come away with a strong sense of how little we can really know, as the author frequently highlights the different ways a piece of evidence has been interpreted, or that the evidence doesn't really tell you what you would think it does (all of that uncertainty is, no doubt, one reason it's such a different book than the probably much more imaginative pictures of dinosaur life you read as a child).
The first half of the book may have really been dubbed, "Iguanodon: A Very Short Introduction," as this one creature is the primary focus. That strategy is helpful in giving a more focused history of the discovery of dinosaurs - Norman focuses on the history of speculation and discovery surrounding Iguanodon - which is one of the highlights of the book, but eventually you're left longing for just one remark about a T-Rex or a Triceratops, anything besides Iguanodon. Occasionally you also feel like you're just reading a short introduction to the author's pet theory of this or that, but I think that happens in most volumes in this series to an extent.
In short, if you're interested in learning about the practices of palaeobiologists and the challenges of studying dinosaurs today, this is the book for you. If you're looking for something exciting, it's really not. There are some very interesting bits here and there (and plenty of helpful illustrations!), but, well, I was eager to start the book and had to struggle to finish it.
A great scientific book. 26 Oct. 2014
By R. Colletti - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very interesting book. I've read this book 3 times.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Alright, I Suppose 24 Mar. 2013
By Alex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book is a decent introduction to the subject. While I do not object to the amount of detail the author went into on two particular dinosaurs, I am a tad upset that he did not give a more detailed analysis of the different types of dinosaurs that arose during their 160 million year reign over planet earth. He does a fine job of presenting the history of dinosaur research, although, it seemed as though he spent too much time describing it. He also does a fine job of weighing the evidence for and against the notion that dinosaurs were endothermic animals. However, the information is not overly well organized and upon completing it I did not feel as though I had gained a framework with which to think about problems in paleontology or truly visualize the ecosystems of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. I am inclined to say that the Wikipedia article, which is much briefer, is also more comprehensive and insightful. This is a rare occurrence, but everything is bound to happen once. Also, and this may sound a bit silly, but it is upsetting to me that he did not devote any space to any of the gigantic marine reptiles that coexisted with T. Rex and the rest.
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