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Re: Dino Book



On Thu, 18 Jul 1996, Janet Benoit wrote:

> The book Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs by David E. Fastovsky 
> and David B Weishampel.  Are the theories given in this book generally 
> accepted?  Does anyone know of the credential of the authors?  Being new 
> at this I would like generally accepted information instead of off the 
> wall theories.  TIA.  8-)
> 
> Janet Benoit

Dr. Tom Holtz, at a conference in Baltimore, called this the best 
textbook on dinosaurs and the first written by a dinosaur paleontologist. 
That was recommendation enough for me to buy a copy. Dr. David Fastovsky 
teaches at the University of Rhode Island and has done field work in 
North America and Asia. Dr. David Weishampel is at Johns Hopkins. He has 
appeared numerous times on TV specials (he's the one who 
demonstrates what a honking Parasaurolophus would sound like).

What convinced me of the book's value was its approach to explaining 
cladistics. The authors use examples of how derived characteristics can 
be applied not only to the animal kingdom but to any group, and they use 
motor vehicles as an example. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles are all motor 
vehicles, but cars and trucks have some characteristics (four wheels; a 
chassis that pretty much surrounds the operator) that motorcycles don't have.

It is intended as a college text, with a much higher ratio of words to 
pictures than "popular" books on dinosaurs. The illustrations are 
primarily black and white. although there is a section of color plate 
restorations, all by Brian Regal.

Prior to the publication of this book, the best college text available 
was Spencer Lucas's. Curiously, a couple of years ago on the dinosaur 
list, there was a big discussion about the merits of Lucas's book (a text 
book) compared to _The Dinosauria_ (Weishampel, Dodson and Osmolska, editors)
which is more a collection of essays for the professional than a text for 
introducing dinosaurs on a college level. There has, surprisingly, not 
been much discussion about the Fastovsky/Weishampel text. Maybe your 
question will start a thread.

And while we're on the subject of books... there's a new series of trade 
books coming out with Dr. David Norman as the consultant. The series 
title is "The New Dinosaur Collection" from Gareth Stevens. I had a good 
luck at one called _Looking at Oviraptor--a Dinosaur from the Cretaceous 
Period_. Text is by Tamara Green with illustrations by Tony Gibbons. The 
text even discusses the latest findings that Oviraptor may not have been 
an egg stealer after all. The illustrations are full-color and the best 
of any dinosaur series. Aimed at the elementary school level.

I remember, too, that another company is supposed to be coming out with 
some new books for children with Donna Braginetz as one of the 
illustrators. I think that series will be devoted to dinosaur groups 
rather than individual dinosaurs. It was reported in _The Dino Times_ a 
few issues back. Does anyone have any information about that series?

----- Amado Narvaez
      anarvaez@umd5.umd.edu