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_The Historical Atlas of the Earth_

Last week I bought the following text:

Osborne, Roger, and Tarling, Donald (General Editors), and Gould,
Stephen Jay (Consultant Editor). 1996. _The Historical Atlas of the
Earth: a Visual Exploration of the Earth's Past_.  Additional
contributions by G. A. L. Johnson, University of Durham. New York:
Henry Hold and Company. 192 pages. ISBN 0-8050-4552-X. List price
US $45.00 (I got it for a bit less).

According to the dust-jacket blurb, Osborne is a writer trained in
geology, and Tarling is professsor of geophysics at the University of
Plymouth, England. Gould, of course, needs no introduction on this
List. Despite the three editors' credentials and professional
standings, a number of irksome errors plague the book. Among them -

Page 22: Pluto's diameter is given as "14,000 km"; Pluto's actual
diameter is 2,300 km; Pluto's mass is given as "0.8" [Earth's];
Pluto's actual mass is 0.0025 Earth's. Pluto is said to have no
satellites; in reality, J. Christy discovered Charon in
1978. Astonishingly, a Hubble Space Telescope image of Pluto *and*
Charon accompanies the text!

Page 24: The account of the formation of the Moon is woefully
incomplete. No mention is made of the current, prevailing theory that
Earth's satellite formed from debris resulting from a collision of a
Mars-sized planetissimal with the proto-Earth.

Map legends, pages 102, 103, and 114: "Ornithiscians" (_sic_!)

Sidebar, page 114: "_Ornithomimus_ . . . medium-sized ornithischian . . ." 

Main text, page 114: "By the time of their disappearance at the end of
the Cretaceous, several dinosaur groups had become warm-bloded . . ."
(flat statement; no hint of controversy)

Caption, page 115: "_Elasmosaurus_. They were close relatives of the
dinosaurs." (_sic_!)

Glossary, page 178: "Ichthyosaur. A marine reptile which existed at
the same time as the dinosaurs, its close relatives." (_sic_!)

Glossary, page 179: "Ornithischians had bird-like hips, and are almost
definitely the precursors of birds." (_sic_!)

Glossary, page 180: "Plesiosaur. Marine reptiles from the Mesozoic
era, which were close relatives of the dinosaurs." (_sic_!)

Would someone please reassure me that I at least can believe the
geological and paleogeographical information presented in this book!

-= Tuck =-