3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Buy for the graphics not for the text,
This review is from: The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life (Hardcover)
The idea that this relatively thin volume could possibly be a 'complete' guide to 500 million years of evolution is faintly and in fact this book only scratches the surface of our limited knowledge of prehistoric life. The inclusion of 'complete' in the title actually refers to the fact that this book is a companion to all three of the 'Walking With' TV series - Dinosaurs, Monsters, and Beasts).
There are about 100 animals featured (no plants) each covering one or two pages. The text begins with describing the animal and its probable lifestyle, then goes on to the discovery of the first fossils and its place in the evolutionary tree. This last bit is very confusing and little is gained by its inclusion. In fact the whole text would be better presented as a 'fact file' with small paragraphs under each subject, such as food, habitat, taxonomy etc.
The big advantage this book has over its competitors is the full weight of computer graphics that comes from its link to the three TV series'. All the pictures featured (over 200) are stills from these films and they go a long way to bringing prehistoric creatures to life on the page. The only disappointment with this is that the majority are merely pictures of the animal standing in its environment rather than in the behavioural poses that was such a great feature on the TV.
In terms of reliability it falls woefully short of many other publications. For a start it manages to contradict itself on several occasions. More importantly however there are certain important bits that the book gets horribly wrong such as confusing reptile with lizard. These are serious errors because they are not realised unless you have some knowledge of prehistoric life already, so can mislead many readers - a sacrilege for a 'guide book'!
In short this book should not be relied upon as the source of your prehistoric knowledge. In terms of illustration it is good and is perhaps more entertaining than others, so may be better for attracting young people to the subject. Having said that it's probably better (and by now possibly cheaper) to buy the DVDs!