on 21 January 2006
In all Dinosaurs books for adults, the authors has to face the difficulty of keeping the balance between scientific thoroughness and text attractiveness for non specialists. Unfortunately in many cases, in order to better cement their case, they immerse themselves in elaborate labyrinths of heavily technical scientific jargon, losing the majority of their readers in the process.
Well, it would be unfair to Mr. Dodson to say that he lost me. His knowledge and veritable passion for his subject – the Ceratopsia – comes through in the text, which is well written, concise and in many instances downright charming. We get a thorough presentation of the series of discoveries and scientific studies, which created and sharpened the image we have for this truly fascinating dinosaur family. Each species’ anatomy is meticulously described and all scientific positions, regarding its phylogeny and ecology, presented and accessed. The two final chapters summarize current scientific knowledge and controversies, about the Ceratopsia family tree (employing the latest techniques of biological analysis) and the animals’ ecology in general.
Nevertheless, the reader should study hard and learn by heart Chapter Two, “Skin and Bones: The Anatomy of a Horned Dinosaur”. Then and only then has one the chance to follow both the detailed anatomical descriptions of the various specimens presented and, most importantly, how these data contributed in the paleontologists’ suppositions about the family’s evolutionary history. Otherwise one will be totally and hopelessly lost. There were passages which gave me extreme difficulty, even with the help of the excellent illustrations of the fossils analyzed. But I find this a small price to pay, for anyone interested to get a very good look at this really amazing bunch of flamboyant horned guys.
on 5 May 1997
This wonderfully illustrated and detailed book has to be in every dinosaur expert's and every dinosaur enthusiast's library. It is not just an encyclopedic summary of every ceratopsian dinosaur genus and species discovered and described so far, but also a discussion on every aspect of their natural history. Dr. Peter Dodson, who is an expert on horned dinosaurs, writes on the discovery, biology and analysis of Triceratops and its kin, the Mesozoic strange beasts.