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A 2007 encyclopedia on dinosaurs created by the combined might of paleontologist Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and famed[1] paleoartist Luis Rey. Unlike your average dino-book, this one doesn't merely cover the most well known genera and calls it a day -- the author instead divided it into 42 chapters, each revolving around a major theme, like geology, fossilization, the Mesozoic periods, but the bulk of the written material is dedicated to thoroughly detailing each of the branches on the dinosaur family tree. True to the title, this means birds get a chapter of their own, while pterosaurs and marine reptiles don't.

Written in a casual language both young and adult paleo-nerds will find readable and enjoyable, this volume is seen as the "Dinosaur Bible" by many enthusiasts of the subject, for its sheer completeness and scienciness. And for the colorful pictures supplied by one of today's top dino artists. The text is punctuated by short essays written by the world's most famous paleontologists, giving a deeper insight into the dinosaur age and the work that goes into deciphering it.

Sadly, it's become pretty outdated and incomplete by now... paleontology is, ironically, a science that evolves in a faster pace than most people can keep up with... but most of it still holds up well, and the basic scientific thought processes which the book employs and stresses so much are as solid as ever.

Also, see here for a load of supplementary material that touches upon nearly every little detail in the book that has proven incorrect or obsolete. An unclickable web address for the site is also given in the book.


The work contains examples of:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From the chapter updates: "On the troodontid side of things, little Anchiornis shows that troodontids a) were present in the Middle Jurassic; b) had long leg feathers like primitive dromaeosaurids and primitive avialians; and c) were cute."
  • Art Shift: Pencil sketches, digitally painted images with real-life backgrounds, and lavishly detailed, traditional paintings grace the pages.
  • Author Avatar: The last page of the book has Holtz as a tyrannosaurid and Rey as a basal pygostylian.
  • Author Tract: The updated genus list very strongly implies that Holtz supports deinonychosaurian affinities for archaeopterygids (the entire clade was moved, which has never happened before, and the comments for Anchiornis imply that archaeopterygids are undoubtedly deinonychosaurs).
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The crests on various hadrosaurs.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: Happens fairly often between the main text & genus list (for instance, in the carnosaur, deinonychosaur & basal ornithopod chapters).
  • Captain Obvious: Often used to humorous effect. Holtz does this quite a bit in Real Life as well, it appears (quotes similar to the last two appear in the actual book).
  • The Faceless: Deinocheirus.
  • Feathered Fiend: Most of the more fearsome coelurosaurs would qualify. These include, of course, tyrannosaurids (though most of the pictures still depict them with tough scales).
  • Giant Flyer: The later, larger pterosaurs which are briefly discussed.
  • Giant Swimmer: Marine reptiles, though again, the book only covers them cursorily.
  • Long Title
  • Mix and Match Critter: Therizinosaurs (and, to a lesser extent, troodontids) are lampshaded as this
  • Mood Whiplash: Noticeable on occasions in the writing style. One sentence may be deadpan and full of complicated scientific terms, only to be followed by "Dinosaurs are totally cool, dude!".
  • Raptor Attack: All but averted. A number of paleo buffs don't find some of the half-scaly/half-fuzzy raptors that pleasing, and there are a few, let's just say "outlandish" reconstructions the illustrator is so well known for... That said, the majority of the underfeathered restorations are the artist's older works, though strangely not updated as some of his other old paintings have been.
  • Science Marches On: Befalls the book itself, but the author, being a paleontologist, was Genre Savvy enough to set up the supplementary site to avert this. Word of God has said that an updated edition of the book itself may also be written eventually.
    • This is also given a nod by the fact that several of Luis Rey's paintings in this book are updated versions of some of his older ones.
    • Lampshaded frequently in the text as well. The author says this is part of what makes paleontology so fun and frustrating at the same time.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: There are illustrations of taxa that have barely ever been illustrated before, such as Zupaysaurus, Lurdusaurus, Saturnalia, and Zalmoxes. Not to mention the appendix that includes a list of every non-dubious Mesozoic dinosaur (including birds) that had been described at the time the book was written.
  • Shout-Out: Several of the headings within the text, such as "Walking with Dinosaurs" (on fossilized dinosaur tracks), "The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch" (on adaptations of theropods for predation), and "Mostly Harmless" (on ornithomimosaur lifestyles).
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Each and every one.
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex: Justified, as it's Holtz's favorite.

Notes

  1. though some would say infamed
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