Dinosaurs – A Concise Natural History

Get your copy of Dinosaurs – A Concise Natural History here.

Dinosaurs – A Concise Natural History
Third Edition
Authors: David E. Fastovsky & David B. Weishampel
Illustrated by: John Sibbick
In its introduction, Dinosaurs – A Concise Natural History, states its intent of being an ‘ideal textbook for non-science majors’, and this it certainly is. While feedback from academia reshaped the content of the third edition it remains a definitive text for scholars and general readers alike.
Science is a constantly evolving beast. In the chapter on phylogenetic systematics the authors reiterate that the most likely correct cladogram is the one that doesn’t change when new characters are added.
In the case of dinosaurs, a new study by the Natural History Museum & Cambridge University suggests that the phylogenetic relationships of the major dinosaurian groups needs some adjustment.
Their conclusion on the relationships between the three lineages is that theropods more closely related to ornithischians and sauropodomorphs are more distant.
This hypothesis also suggests that dinosaurs might also have emerged in the northern landmass known as Laurasia rather than Godwana in the Southern Hemisphere.
Each chapter of Dinosaurs – A Concise Natural History has a selection of recommended reading at its conclusion, making it easy for the reader and student to delve more into the topic.
Topic questions for at the end of a chapter are a boon for teachers of the subject as well as testing students on their personal understanding.
I was also impressed with the quality of the illustrations; from the more traditional style of scientific drawing one would expect in a science text, plus CT-scans and even an arm tattooed with a wondrous Wendiceratops!
A chart in the chapter ‘The flowering of the Mesozoic’ I found to be of particular interest. It showed the changes in dinosaur diversity by continent, measured through the Late Triassic to Late Cretaceous. Both Asia & North America had large surges of diversity in the Late Cretaceous. The jury is still out on why dinosaurs prevailed - did they out-compete their contemporaries or did their non-dinosaurian contemporaries go extinct?
The implication of feathers and their importance for dinosaurs is referred to throughout the book.
If you find the stories about famous palaeontologists or the history of paleontological thought of interest, then the latter chapters of the publication provide a good oversight.
Dinosaurs – A Concise Natural History is an essential library addition for anyone with an interest in dinosaurs and you don’t have to be a science major to enjoy its contents. Thoroughly recommended.
Copies are available through Amazon.com here.
Roger Smith
Director - Dinosaurnews.

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