One problem with lost world stories is authors have always assumed that evolution would suddenly come to a grinding halt 65 million years ago. That's why you get prehistoric plateaus, mysterious islands and underground worlds filled with T. rexes and triceratops resembling their ancient counterparts. I believe it was Greg Bear who first broke this trend in this novel Dinosaur Summer. And I'm glad to see the filmmakers of King Kong have decided to break it as well.
Both science fiction fans and paleontology lovers will enjoy The World of Kong. It is a bestiary and field guide to the wildlife of Skull Island, at times amazing in its detail, documenting even the insects and fish that thrive in the imaginary ecosystem. The folks at the special effects Weta Workshop let their imaginations run wild in this collaborative effort, but kept their beasts mostly grounded in science. In these pages are the descendants of Permian mammal-like reptiles, dinosaurs and even prehistoric terror birds, along with a few new creatures like flying rats (but, alas, no pterosaurs other than one short mention). The book is full of gorgeous color illustrations accompanied by short, concise articles documenting the behavior and evolutionary history of the species described in it.
I would give this work 4 1/2 stars if that were possible because there are some minor problems. There is too much focus on predators, as if everyone at Weta was in a competition to dream up the scariest monster. The authors also play up the "lizardness" of their dinosaurs despite the evolutionary link to birds, giving their V. rex (an evolved T. rex) crocodile-like hide and their "raptors" a snake-like skin. And if you wanted to be priggish about it, an island is far too small an area to support all these large animals, and some of the insects and spiders are far larger than what is physically possible. (A dinosaur-eating spider?!) But these are minor complaints. Creature lovers and fans of fantasy illustration will dig this book.