Thursday, November 01, 2007


Professional paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr. has just released Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-To-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages, and dinophiles everywhere better start clearing space on their bookshelves, because this is not one of those illustration-heavy, text-light picture books. With contributions from over thirty of his fellow paleontologists, Holtz’s 432 pages (featuring colorful illustrations by “paleoartist” Luis V. Rey) include brief entries on all 800-plus named species of Mesozoic dinosaurs, as well as chapters on dinosaur biology, diet, and behavior.

Older children and adults will undoubtedly benefit from this book (I wish I’d read it before slogging through Peter Ward’s Out of Thin Air), but Dinosaurs isn’t a great choice for young children. Rey’s illustrations are not for the faint of heart, and readers will need to be mature enough to handle sentences like: “Many scientists and paleoartists thought it was best to take this cautious approach, and this is why almost all older coelurosaur pictures show them with just scaly skin.” But while the average plastic-dinosaur-obsessed six-year-old is unlikely to enjoy Dr. Holtz’s book, Dinosaurs would work beautifully as a gift for a paleontology-minded preteen, a donation to a middle school science classroom, or a guide for any adults out there who need to know something about dinosaurs that doesn’t come from a decade-old National Geographic article or a shady internet source.

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