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Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds Hardcover – 8 Jan 2009
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This volume is thought-provoking and attractive, and anyone (of any age) interested in dinosaurs will enjoy looking at it. (Darren Naish, Fortean Times)
Peter Schouten's wonderful artwork is the focus of the book...Schouten's attention to detail is impressive. (Darren Naish, Fortean Times)
This work would serve to fire the imagination of even the most recalcitrant of students. This book would not be out of place in the front room of any home. (British Ornithologists' Union)
About the Author
John Long is Head of Sciences for Museum Victoria, Australia. A renowned paleontologist, he has collected fossils in Antarctica, Africa, throughout Asia, and has worked extensively in North America, Europe, and in every part of Australia. He has written or co-authored some 24 books, and in 2001 won Australia's prestigious Eureka Prize for the Public Promotion of Science. Peter Schouten is an award-winning artist and illustrator of natural history books. His books include A Gap in Nature and Astonishing Animals. He spent two years working on the 80 magnificent illustrations in this book.
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First of all there is the "generalist" part of the book, laying the foundation for the species profiles. It discusses various carnivorous dinosaur families and how these seem to lead, by careful evolutionary steps, to the first birds. The text is interesting but the "dinosaurs-birds" connection comes through somewhat weakly. The arguments are there all right, but I have read much stronger propositions on the subject, "Dino-Birds" and "Glorified Dinosaurs" for instance. And there is virtually nothing on the most crucial question of the origin of flight
Then we come to the main part of the book, the profiles themselves. Well, there is a very good representation from all relevant dinosaur and bird families, with many obscure and / or recently discovered species, mainly form the current paleontologist's paradise, the Liaoning Province in China. The emphasis, of course, is on the feathered dinosaur species, but it seems to me that the author and artist take the opportunity to put feathers in as many reptiles as possible, even on scant paleontological evidence. Perhaps they thought this way it would be easier for the general public to understand the continuum between the two animal groups, but poetic and artistic license may go just a bit too far. Finally, the artist's comments on why he chose animal postures and colors were a nice documentation touch, but his arguments are not always convincing and the images themselves sometimes verge, to my opinion, on the kitsch.
Overall it is a good try on the subject, one of the most controversial in modern paleontology, but it could have done with less flamboyance and more quality and substance.
I don't understand why some readers have dumped it for that.
technical books with pictures of fossils are already enough.
(personally I have a dozen).
This time I was looking for something more vivid.
dinosaurs are not fiction, they had a shape and color.
not always our imagination is enough,
and these magnificent works manage to bring them back to life as if they are real.
This is not a technical book, yes,
but this is a must have for anyone (adults and children) fascinated by how the dinosaurs would have been.
The book concentrates on the theropods[two legged dinosaurs],explaining the differant groups,[some well known like the tyrannosaurs,and raptors]some of which are not well known like therizinosaurs,dromaeosaurs,and troodontids amongst others.The book follows the journey from large meat eaters to small feathered dinsaurs,and ultimatley small birds.There are number of differant species at each stage of the process,makeing it a more in depth look into this particular part of natural history[as oppossed to more general over veiw offered by most books].
The pictures themselves are painted in almost an old fashioned way[no digital photo realistic pictures here],giving them a alternative reality quality,as if feathered dinosaurs were discovered much earlier.These images push the feathered dinosaur too the max,and are ahead of the curve in terms of mainstream perception.Some people will be put off by this,but I find it rather exciting,after all it's open to interpretation.The painter's notes on each animal try to explain the markings and there uses,display,camouflage and so on.I find this a useful and interesting insight,which you wouldn't get in other books.
Overall I found this book to be an interesting read,that adds to the books,magazine articles I already have.I find that no one veiw is definitive,and therefore should not judge the more fancieful aspects of this book too harshly.
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