[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

[no subject]

Chuck Prime started the thread about the Dinosaur Society Dinosaur
Encyclopedia, asking what's wrong with it, and Brian Franczak responded:
"It's written by Don Lessem. 'Nuff said." Since that response doesn't
provide a whole lot of useful information in answer to Mr. Prime's
question, I'll attempt to be more specific and constructive in my
evaluation of the book, especially since I suspect that many educators use
it as a reference book.
To give credit where it is due, the Dinosaur Society Dinosaur Encyclopedia
was written by Don Lessem AND Don Glut. Drs. Peter Dodson, Catherine
Forster, and Anthony Fiorillo are credited as scientific consultants.
Illustrations were done by Tracy Ford, Brian Franczak, Gregory Paul, John
Sibbick, and Ken Carpenter.
If there are errors or "disinformation" in the book, I suspect that they
are errors of carelessness rather than errors of knowledge. On page 297,
for instance, there is an error in the vital statistics for
_Megalosaurus_. The diet is listed as "plants." However, immediately below
that statistic is the statement, "_Megalosaurus_ was a large carnivore,
and among the first dinosaurs to be named and described." For all I know,
the "plants" error could have been a typesetter's error. At the worst, I
think the only criticism I would level at anyone involved with the book in
that regard is poor proofreading. I'm quite confident that both Lessem and
Glut (not to mention their advisers) know that _Megalosaurus_ ate meat.

I think the Dinosaur Society Dinosaur Encyclopedia is still of
considerable use if its facts are checked against other references. One
of the research skills every student is taught is to use multiple
reference sources when writing a paper. I keep David Norman's _Illustrated
Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs_, Weishampel, et al's _The Dinosauria_, and now
Fastovsky and Weishampel's _The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs_
on my shelf (among many others) for cross-referencing any "facts" I want
to share with the teachers and children at my school. When I encounter
discrepancies, I will often post a question here for comment from "the

As to "disinformation," I suppose one could quibble about the
encyclopedia's decision to list _Tarbosaurus bataar_ as an invalid
species. Usually when the validity of a species is in question, Lessem and
Glut are more open-minded, as in the listing for _Ultrasauros_, the
status of which is given as "doubtful." But as I said, if you cross-check
information with other sources, you can come up with a less biased and a
more informed view.

The book is now available on the remainder shelf of many bookstores. I
like it because: 1) it lists the dinosaurs known at the time of its
publication in alphabetical order; 2) the vital statistics are listed in
consistent, outline format before more detailed written description; 3)
the type species is provided in the vital statistics; 4) other species are
described in the text; 5) there is a cross-index of dinosaurs by
time-period at the end of the book.  This information is provided in other
books, but not in such an organized format. My preference for an organized
format is not laziness, it's an appreciation of the value of organized

My advice: Buy a copy, especially if you can get it at a discount price.
Cross check the information in it. And don't let Mr. Franczak's cryptic
comment about Don Lessem deter you from buying other books Lessem has
authored. Granted, there are other books available by authors who may be
more knowledgeable than Mr. Lessem, but even these are not always
error-free. I think there is some envy among dinosaur enthusiasts that Mr.
Lessem has such a high profile in the eye of the public and the media as
an "authority" on dinosaurs. Perhaps they suffer from the malady that
Ibsen attributes to the Christians in his underappreciated play _Emperor
and Galilean_: "More jealous than zealous."

'Nuff said?
----- Amado Narvaez