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Re: help

> Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 08:20:06 -0000
> From: "David Carrizosa" <befreeasabird@antimonio.com>
> And another questions which dinosaurs books do you think must be
> essential.

Hi David,

There are some pretty good (if I say it myself) reviews of dinosaur
books on my own web-site at
and lots more snippets (more fragmentary) in the Dinosaur FAQ's "What
good dinosaur books are available" answer at

I don't know what your background is and how much you already know
about dinosaurs, but for a complete beginner, enthusiastic but not
nery knowledgeable, I'd recommend the following books, in this order:

* Robert T. Bakker, _The Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the
  Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction_.  Kensington Pub Corp
  (Trd), August 1996.  ISBN 0821756087

        This is the book that got a lot of people started, me
        included.  Some of the science in it is, shall we say,
        debatable; but its enthusiasm is infectious, and the love of
        all things dinosaurian seems to leap off the page.  It jumps
        around cheerfully from subject to subject, taking in dinosaur
        anatomy, physiology, extinction and much more.  The prose is
        easy to read and very absorbing, and perfectly complemented by
        Bakker's own beautiful black-and-white illustrations, which
        capture his vision of fast, powerful, active dinososaurs.
        I've owned two copies of this book, lent them both the
        "friends" and never seen them again.  A classic.

* James O. Farlow & M. K. Brett-Surman (Ed.), _The Complete Dinosaur_.
  Indiana University Press, April 1999.  ISBN 0253213134

        Once you've read _Heresies_, you're ready for this superb
        compilation are articles by a wide selection of the top
        dinosaur workers.  (Don't be put off by the cartoonish
        cover).  It contains 43 separate essays arranged in six
        sections (The Discovery of Dinosaurs, The Study of Dinosaurs,
        The Groups of Dinosaurs, Biology of the Dinosaurs, Dinosaur
        Evolution in the Changing World of the Mesozoic Era and
        Dinosaurs and the Media), which can be read in any order.
        Each individual essay covers its ground in real detail, but
        explains its complex concepts with a minimum of technical
        jargon.  A single volume that can take you from mere
        enthusiast all the way up to knowledgeable amateur!

        (Along the same lines, you may wish to get Gregory S. Paul
        (Ed.), _The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs_.
        St. Martins Press, November 2000.  ISBN 0312262264.  It's
        another compilation, similar in spirit to _The Complete
        Dinosaur_ and more up to date, but much shorter, less
        comprehensive and less useful as a reference due to the
        absence of an index.  Personally I have and like both, but if
        I had to choose one, then _TCD_ would be the clear winner.)

* R. McNeill Alexander, _Dynamics of Dinosaurs and Other Extinct
  Giants_.  Columbia Univ Pr, May 15, 1989.  ISBN 0231066678

        This short and approachable book is a wonderful introduction
        to dinosaur biomechanics.  It covers a multitude of issues,
        including mass estimation, athleticism, force calculation for
        necks and tails, estimating running speed from trackways,
        possible uses of crests, horns, etc. and much more -- all in a
        way that makes its sometimes complex subject seem very

        (If you like this book, you should go on to Christopher
        McGowan, _Dinosaurs, Spitfires and Sea Dragons_.  Harvard Univ
        Press, September 1992.  ISBN 067420770X.  It covers many of
        the same areas but in more detail, and has much, much more to
        say about physiology, the mechanics of flight and swimming and
        -- for some reason -- ichthyosaurs.  Outstanding.)

* Donald F. Glut, _Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia (1st Edition)_.
  McFarland & Company, July 1997.  ISBN 0899509177

        This is the big one.  If you're ready for raw information,
        this is the best place to find it, and the closest thing to
        reading pre-digested primary literature.  It's not cheap ($145
        at Amazon.com) but it is as near definitive as any dinosaur
        reference work can be.  It has all the key information on
        every genus valid at the time of publication, with lots of
        discussion, summaries of recent work, and some more discursive
        articles on the usual issues -- metabolism, extinction, etc.
        Since the publication of the core volume, there have been two
        supplements issued, with a third on the way.  These contain
        the core information on new genera and updates on important
        research concerning genera already covered in earlier
        volumes.  I go back to these books more often than all my
        others combined.

So there you have it.  My four-book introductory course on dinosaurs
(or six books if you include the Glut supplemenmts, or eight if you
include the optional pair.)  I hope this is useful to someone -- I
think I'll make it a Dinosaur FAQ page now I've gone to all the
trouble of writing it.

Here are URLs for anyone wanting to buy these books online at either
the American or UK Amazon stores:

* Robert T. Bakker, _The Dinosaur Heresies_

* James O. Farlow & M. K. Brett-Surman (Ed.), _The Complete Dinosaur_.

* Gregory S. Paul (Ed.), _The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs_.

* R. McNeill Alexander, _Dynamics of Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Giants_.

* Christopher McGowan, _Dinosaurs, Spitfires and Sea Dragons_.

* Donald F. Glut, _Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia (1st Edition)_.

* Donald F. Glut, _Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia: Supplement 1_.

* Donald F. Glut, _Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia: Supplement 2_.

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor  <mike@indexdata.com>  http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "The secret of success is sincerity.  Once you can fake that
         you've got it made" -- Jean Giraudoux.

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