on 5 November 2001
As the author of 'Walking with Beasts' points out, although in the ecosystems of the world the mammals succeeded the dinosaurs, it is the dinosaurs that have been the true successes in terms of their representation in fiction, in museums and in our imaginations. Well, 'Walking With Beasts' allows us to become better acquainted with our not so familiar 'fur-ball' ancestors. Using a similar format to the immensely popular 'Walking With Dinosaurs', six selected time-slots of the last 65 million years are recreated in a wildlife documentary format. As you would expect, the CGI pictures in the book and taken from the television series are of the highest quality and often verge on the photo-realistic. The structure of each chapter where the text focuses on the life of a particular animal makes the book that much more readable, as an actual story unfolds and we are drawn into the drama of the creature's interactions with its family group, prey and predators. The choices for the featured animals range from the more predictable: sabre-toothed cats, mammoths and the ancestral hominid Australopithecus to the more unusual: Basilosaurus an ancient whale, and even non-mammals such as the giant predatory bird Gastornis. Overall, the book is a visual delight and seeks to depict the animals it features and the environments they live in as accurately as possible based on the scientific facts known, and fills in the unknowable with sensible conjecture. Rewarding for all ages and, although hardly an exercise in academia, the wonderful reconstructions represent excellent interpretations of the skeletons familiar to students of palaeontology . For readers who'd like to take the next step into a slightly more technical read a good choice might be 'The Velvet Claw', which features the history of the Carnivora, and was another BBC series.
on 5 October 2003
Although most of us know that it’s been about 65 million years since the dinosaurs disappeared thanks to Jurassic Park, very few of us have any idea of the creatures that were living in the period after the dinosaurs but before most of the ones we are familiar with today.
The book, based on the excellent TV series, details some of these beasts describing their likely behaviour and the worlds they lived in.
Learn about the giant dogs which were genetically more like sheep, the shark eating whales and the ultra mean, hard as nails pigs. Fascinating!
on 21 February 2002
Prehistoric Life has long held a fascination for me. This book answers, in the best way possible, a many-years quest for information on mammal origins and evolution. In just six chapters - capturing six moments of evolutionary history - the author manages to convey all the majesty, richness and beauty of life between the end of the dinosaurs and the coming of Homo Sapiens.
You can read this book as it is, or enjoy it along with the BBC TV Series (Video or DVD). Either way, it is a memorable experience.
on 17 August 2014
I really like this book. Even though it is designed for, I am guessing, teenagers or older children. It is very informative and the subject is one that I find very interesting. This is not however a textbook, or a thorough analysis of the subject. It is a first step on any exploration of the subject. For what it is though it is very good.
on 25 March 2012
Chances are you saw the series on BBC a few years back - this is a fairly hefty hardback book chock full of pictures from the program and a helluva lot of factual text on the subject. Lots of text. Probably not suitable for the younger beast fans, as it's far too much reading and judging from the slightly glazed look I get from Sunburst Junior when I read it to him sometimes, it's not nearly as good as actually watching massive 'things' bite huge chunks out of each other than listening to me drone on about it...