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Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Book Review - Dinopedia - Princeton University Press

 


     This volume represents the fourth in the "pedia" series that I have reviewed for Princeton University Press. I am quite taken with the concept, so I was very pleased to receive Dinopedia.
     I suspect that like many, I have an unremitting fascination with dinosaurs, yet inadequate knowledge about them. This compendium of information is really quite wonderful, presenting facts in a very readable way, while not neglecting the influence of dinosaurs on popular culture.
     Darren Naish has done a masterful job in avoiding arcane terminology as much as possible, but in a work such as this, it is impossible to ignore it completely. I found it fun to get my tongue around such seemingly unpronounceable words as Opsithocoelicaudia and Pycnonemosaurus, by breaking them down syllable by syllable. It is amazing how quickly they then roll off the tongue, and a brief foray into their etymology reveals much about their meaning. This was, in effect, a secondary exploration, a bit of an intellectual adventure, from which I derived great pleasure.
     As a lifelong birder, the question of whether birds are descended from dinosaurs, and if so which ones, has been part of avian discourse for as long as I can remember. Having read the opposing views held by Sankar Chatterjee (The Rise of Birds) and Alan Feduccia (The Origin and Evolution of Birds) in their respective works, and being susceptible to accepting either side, I was glad to have Naish set me straight once and for all - kick Feduccia and his heretics (adherents to the BAND (Birds are not dinosaurs) movement) to the ashbin of ornithological history! I was also reminded of David Quammen's ironic and amusing essay, Local Bird Makes Good. The heavyweights have indeed written on this topic!
      Dinosaurs have never left us; not all were destroyed in the KT extinction. Birds ARE dinosaurs. When the next Nightingale or Wood Thrush enraptures you with its melody, remember that you are listening to a living, breathing, and yes, flying dinosaur.
     From A to Z, from Abelsaurids to the Zigong Dinosaur Museum, and everything in between, dinosaurs are extolled and explained in all their glorious diversity. Controversies are explored; successes are lauded, personalities probed and the fossil record dissected. The lively, often witty text, is accompanied by drawings from the author's own hand.
     I can say without reservation, it is a very satisfying little book from start to finish.

Dinopedia - Princeton University Press
Author: Darren Naish
US$16.95 - £9.99 - ISBN: 9780691212029
216 pages - 4.5 x 7 inches (11,25 x 17.5 cm) - 50 b/w illustrations
Published: USA  30 November 2021
                  UK     5 October 2021 


31 comments:

  1. I love dinosaures David. My children grew up in a big dinosaur time here in Norway. They was so popular.
    A museum in Oslo had a big exhibition, and my children was so fascinated.
    There has never been any doubt in my mind as to whether the birds are descended from the dinosaurs. Of course they do!
    Hugs, Marit

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  2. It sounds wonderful.
    As for whether birds are dinosaurs or not you only have to look at some of them and their heritage is immediately evident. Pelicans leap to mind...

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  3. Going to natural history museums is high on our list to visit. In Chicago, we visited the
    Field Museum, said hi to Sue. We eventually had a collection of dinosaurs figures. Now my son lives in Chicago, takes his little boys there.
    Thanks for the post.

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  4. Dinosaurs never left us. Brilliant!

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  5. Hi David, great review. So birds are really dinosaurs, that's really something. I shall view them with new eyes from now on! Thanks for the information! Hugs, Valerie

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  6. It makes sense to me that birds descended from dinosaurs.

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  7. Hello David,:=) Those long words are difficult to pronounce, and for me even difficult to remember, but I have never doubted that birds are dinosaurs.
    Hugs, and Take care.

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  8. It is interesting to think of birds as dinosaurs.

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  9. Sounds a good book. We have a grandson who was interesting in Dinosaurs and would often relate to us all about them, he never stopped talking :)

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  10. J'aime beaucoup les dinosaures, sans doute un livre très intéressant.
    Bonne journée

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  11. Hello David,
    Great review. I always enjoyed a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs. Take care, enjoy your day!

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  12. What a surprise, David. Your words: you are listening to a living, breathing and yes, flying dinosaur surprised me. I never thought that way about birds. Crocodile is an ancient dinosaur, true, but cute birds ..

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  13. I didn't realize there was still a debate about whether birds evolved from dinosaurs. I think it is so amazing how ancient dinosaurs had feathers. Not sure this book will offer anything new but I do recommend The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs: A New History of their Lost World by Steve Brusatte. I read it a year or 2 ago and it was an interesting and not unapproachable read.

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  14. I bought Birdpedia on your recommendation, David, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dinopedia is now on order. I'm .loking forward to No.6 (Geopedia) and No.8 Insectpedia), but there seems to be a bit of a mystery as to what and when No.7 will be!

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  15. It is definitely interesting to look into a long lost world represented by the dinosaurs - no mater whether they or the birds came first.

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  16. This sounds really interesting, I am also fascinated with dinosaurs. I see Richard has also ordered it as well.
    Best wishes Diane

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  17. Very interesting and I enjoyed this very much.

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  18. Like you, I have a long-held fascination with dinosaurs, going back, I think, to my younger daughter who loved them so much. This sounds like a book I would really like to read.

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  19. Awesome David! You know, I may be showing my ignorance here, but the first Jurassic Park (I know, I know lol) toyed with the idea that birds were dinosaurs and I was a believer ever since the actor Sam Neill told me so ha ha....I'm glad to see there is actual evidence to back this up! Whenever I see a Great Blue Heron, I really do think of dinosaurs! :)

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  20. There is always a fascination about dinosaurs...

    All the best Jan

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  21. Hi David - this sounds a fascinating and delightful book - you're tempting me ... love the way you've described it all ... what a fun post ... cheers Hilary

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  22. Querido David tal y como nos lo cuentas apetece comprarlo, se ve muy interesante. Tengo que decirte que yo no se nada de Dinosaurios y si voy alguna vez al museo del jurásico de Asturias y me resulta interesante. Muchas gracias. Un enorme abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

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  23. Very interesting post. I guess birds are flying dinosaurs. Amazing they are not extinct.

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  24. Hello David,
    Sounds like another great book, thanks for sharing the review and for linking up your post today.
    Take care, enjoy your weekend. PS, I appreciate the comment and visit.

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  25. The owl is very beautiful, here we have a similar one, Megascops choliba and it is also camouflaged with the trunks.
    How is Lily growing!
    Cheers

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  26. El libro parece interesante. Besos y abrazos.

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