Sunday, August 14, 2016

My 15th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 14th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-14th-pair-of-reviews.html

http://www.dinosaurfarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/american-museum-of-natural-history-inside-dinosaurs.jpg

This book would make a great exhibit ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1G5HZTPACE9QG/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=140277074X&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ): 5/5

Short version: The best exhibits are attractive, brief, & clear (I.e. The ABCs of exhibit design). Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs" (henceforth ID) takes the AMNH's best dino exhibits & combines them into the AMNH's best children's dino book.

Long version: Read on.

As you may have noticed, I usually review non-fiction dino books that either don't get enough praise for being good or don't get enough criticism for being bad. What's interesting about ID is that it got a lot of praise for being very well-illustrated, but little-to-no praise for being very well-organized & thematic. Put another way, to quote Ham (See "Environmental Interpretation: A Practical Guide for People with Big Ideas and Small Budgets"), the other Amazon Reviewers "worried more about the "A" than they did about the "B" and "C."" In this review, I focus on the "B" & "C" & why I think they make ID great.

1) Like a great exhibit, ID is very brief/well-organized: To quote Ham, "Brief exhibits are well organized and simple; they contain five or fewer main ideas and only enough text to develop the theme; rather than having a lot of words, they show details visually; they don't appear like they require a lot of work from the viewer". That's exactly what ID does: Not only does ID contain 5 main ideas as outlined on the 1st inside flap, but also 10 fold-out pages; Not only do said pages "allow kids to dig deeper into the topics and enjoy amazing illustrations", but also make ID interactive (Quoting Ham: "Besides being more enjoyable, interactive exhibits are better "teachers" than static ones"); This reminds me of the new "DK Eyewitness" books, but more engaging.

2) Like a great exhibit, ID is very clear/thematic: To quote Ham, "Clear exhibits contain a theme that is so conspicuous it can be recognized and understood in only a second or two." That's exactly what ID does: As outlined on the 1st inside flap, "This amazing book will give you the inside scoop on [dinos]...As a daring insider, you'll walk in the steps of these astonishing creatures"; The opening pages reinforce the "inside scoop" part of the theme (See the 1st Abramson et al. quote), while the closing pages reinforce the "daring insider" part of the theme (See the 2nd Abramson et al. quote); This reminds me of the "Dinosaur Train" series (Quoting Sampson: "Get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries!"), but for older kids.

If I could, I'd give ID a 4.5/5. My only gripes are the non-maniraptoran reconstructions (some of which have shrink-wrapped heads &/or too many claws) & the lack of pronunciations (especially of Chinese names). However, for the purposes of this review, I'll round up to 5/5. 2 more things of note: 1) There are direct & indirect references to the AMNH's "Hall of Dinosaurs", "Fighting Dinos", & "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries"; 2) The AMNH keeps updates on "American Museum of Natural History" when parts of ID become outdated.
Quoting Abramson et al.: "Let's learn to look through a paleontologist's eyes and take a trip back to the time when fierce Albertosaurus stalked prey in the forests, spike-frilled Styracosaurus grazed in the ferns, groups of Corythosaurus hung out, and early birds darted through the sky. Join us as we explore the world of the dinosaur to get an inside look at the lives of these amazing creatures from long ago."
Quoting Abramson et al.: "The discovery of new dinosaur fossils can happen almost anywhere and at any time. Amateur dinosaur hunters have discovered many fossils and even whole new species. The bones of the dinosaur Bambiraptor were found by a fourteen-year-old boy on his family's ranch in Montana. So if you have exposed sedimentary rock in your backyard, don't be afraid to get out there and try to make your very own dinosaur discovery. Don't have any sedimentary rock nearby? Look at the trees…the birds you see are your very own dinosaur discoveries."

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61lQQygI4hL.jpg

The worst alternative ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1Y51RJP1YORCC/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1416938575&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books ): 1/5

For as long as there has been "Dinosaur (DK Eyewitness Books)" (henceforth DD), there have been wannabes. As much as I love DD, I understand why readers would want an alternative: For 1, see the Ben quote; What Ben says about "the AMNH fossil halls" goes for DD; For another, DD is a mixed bag in terms of paleoart.* However, as far as I know, Abramson et al.'s "Inside Dinosaurs" is the only good alternative. Long's "Dinosaurs (Insiders)" (henceforth DI) is the worst of all the other alternatives. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think that is, besides the text.**

1) Unlike DD, DI is an annoying & confusing mess in terms of writing & organization. In reference to "annoying...writing", this is especially apparent in the sub-chapter about extinction because 1) the main text explains the extinction process, but nothing of the story behind it, 2) the sidebar text needlessly re-explains said process, & 3) said process is helpfully numbered, but others aren't (E.g. Studying & finding/reconstructing dino fossils). In reference to "confusing...organization", this is especially apparent in the sub-chapters about studying & finding/reconstructing dino fossils because 1) you have to find dino fossils BEFORE you can study them, 2) you have to study dino fossils TO reconstruct them, & 3) the text explaining said processes is scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason.

2) Unlike DD's life reconstructions, DI's are mostly not-so-good. Those by Carr are as good as it gets in DI, while those by Pixel-shack are as bad as it gets: In reference to Carr, that's not saying much; Some of her life reconstructions are OK (E.g. See the small T.rex on the front cover), while others are just plain outdated/abominable (E.g. See the feathered dinos on the back cover; Some have pronated hands or splayed legs; Others look like demented muppets or feathered lizards); In reference to Pixel-shack, I've already said everything I have to say about them in my Dinosaurs review (See reason #4: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3J1R5BYAZABGZ/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1847244173&nodeID=283155&store=books ); In DI, the ankylosaurs are depicted as being piles of poop, while the tyrannosaurs are shameless rip-offs of the "Jurassic Park" T.rex. Those by the other illustrators fall somewhere in between, but more towards Pixel-shack (E.g. See Eriksson's large T.rex on the front cover, which is a poorly-photoshopped lace monitor). McKinnon's paleoart may be the 2nd worst in DI (E.g. Not only is the Struthiomimus un-feathered with pronated hands, but also duck-billed with cheeks).

*I'm specifically referring to DD's life reconstructions, some of which are not-so-good (E.g. Those by various illustrators & Pixel-shack in the older & newer editions, respectively).

**On average, there's 2 or 3 factual errors per page in DI, a 64 page book.
Quoting Ben (Google "Framing Fossil Exhibits: Phylogeny"): "Within the actual fossil halls, interpretation remains stubbornly unapproachable. For example, the sign introducing proboscidians tells visitors that this group is defined primarily by eye sockets located near the snout. An observant visitor might wonder why scientists rely on such an obscure detail, as opposed to the obvious trunks and tusks. There’s a good teaching moment there concerning why some characteristics might face more selection pressure (and thus change more radically) than others, but instead visitors are only offered esoteric statements. Relatedly, the exhibit does little to prioritize information. Most label text is quite small, and there’s a lot of it. Compare this to Evolving Planet at the Field Museum, where there is a clear hierarchy of headings and sub-headings. Visitors can read the main point of a display without even stopping, and parents can quickly find relevant information to answer their charges’ questions (rather than making something up).
Evolving Planet also compares favorably to the AMNH fossil halls in its informative aesthetics and spatial logic. At FMNH, walls and signs in each section are distinctly color-coded, making transitions obvious and intuitive. Likewise, consistent iconography...such as the mass extinction zones...helps visitors match recurring themes and topics throughout the exhibit. AMNH, in contrast, has a uniform glass and white-walled Apple Store aesthetic. It’s visually appealing, but doesn’t do much to help visitors navigate the space in a meaningful way."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Save Mongolia's Dinosaurs


When I took the "Jurassic World Challenge", I had trouble choosing between "real world paleontological research" & "independent paleontological illustration", so I funded both w/2 separate contributions ( http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-jurassic-world-movie-and-challenge.html ). If you're anything like me, you had trouble too. Now you can fund both w/just 1 contribution by backing "Save Mongolia's Dinosaurs | Indiegogo" ( https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-mongolia-s-dinosaurs#/ ): Not only can you "buy a piece of artwork", but also "fund a science outreach and conservation expedition across Mongolia"; I bought Willoughby's "Velociraptor mug", mostly b/c 1) it's the most expensive piece I can afford, 2) it's the most beautiful Velociraptor I've ever seen, & 3) I thought it'd go nicely w/my "Tea Raptor Mug". Even if you took the "Jurassic World Challenge" w/no trouble, you should still back "Save Mongolia's Dinosaurs | Indiegogo" b/c it's important to Mongolia & thus important to paleontology (See the Orr quote for why; Also, see Werning's "Why Paleontology Is Relevant" for why paleontology is important to us: http://blogs.plos.org/paleo/2013/02/19/why-paleontology-is-relevant/ ).
Quoting Orr ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2016/07/mesozoic-miscellany-87.html ): "Mongolia is undoubtedly one of the most important countries in the history of palaeontology, but too many important fossils have been taken away. A new crowdfunding effort seeks to bring the wonder of Mongolia's scientific treasures to the country's children via a moveable museum. "Kids in the communities we visit will board the moveable museum to experience the interactive exhibits, and join classroom activities about dinosaurs, fossils and the relationship of dinosaurs to modern birds." Pledge your support today!"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

My 14th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 13th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-13th-pair-of-reviews.html

https://img1.etsystatic.com/027/0/5941175/il_570xN.579001941_i8e3.jpg

I wish I had this book as a kid ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: Waldrop/Loomis' "Ranger Rick's Dinosaur Book" (henceforth Ranger) is basically Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" (henceforth ZD) in book form, but better. I recommend reading Ranger in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Gardom/Milner's "The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs").

Long version: Read on.

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up with 1) "Ranger Rick" magazine, & 2) "Zoobooks" magazine.* ZD used to be my favorite issue of either magazine, but now my favorite is Ranger. Like ZD, Ranger is a natural history of dinos illustrated by Hallett, published by a wildlife organization, & consulted by Ostrom. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think Ranger is even better than ZD.

1) Ranger is very complete & in-depth: For 1 (in reference to "complete"), using Holtz's "Dinosaurs" as a guide, Ranger features representatives of 10 different dino groups; Compare that to the 7 different dino groups of ZD; For another (in reference to "in-depth"), see the Waldrop/Loomis quote; Ranger does more in 1 page than ZD does in 2 pages ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/babbletrish/5747604673 ).

2) Ranger is very well-organized: Being well-organized is especially important to a natural history of dinos given that it's "designed to be read from start to finish as the developing story of a remarkable group of animals" ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-History-Museum-Book-Dinosaurs/dp/184442183X ); Not only does Ranger have a chronological format, but each chapter begins with a day-in-the-life story & ends with a lead-in to the next chapter.

3) Ranger is very well-illustrated: In addition to Hallett, Ranger is illustrated by Akerbergs, Dawson (E.g. See the cover), Kish, Knight, & Zallinger; Dawson's paleoart is especially good at making reconstructed animals appear life-like (I.e. It "displays a superb attention to small details - in terms of the animals' anatomy...their interaction with the surrounding environment, and the environment itself");** It helps that Dawson illustrated all the day-in-the-life stories. My only gripe is that most of the sauropods & some of the ornithischians are depicted as dragging their tails.

*My sympathies to those who didn't grow up with "Classic Ranger Rick" ( http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2009/11/time-has-not-been-kind-to-ranger-rick.html ).

**Google "Vintage Dinosaur Art: De Oerwereld van de Dinosauriƫrs - Part 1".
Quoting Waldrop/Loomis: "Workers in a German quarry in 1861 uncovered a puzzle that has not been solved after more than 120 years. The puzzle was a new fossil that had a wishbone like a bird's and wings with feathers. It was a bird, the earliest ever found. It was named Archaeopteryx...the "ancient wing."
One of the puzzling things about this bird was its ancestors. To try to solve this puzzle, scientists checked its head, its tail, its hands, its feet. Finally, one man studied the fossil for two years and listed 21 ways that its bones matched those of the small, meat-eating dinosaurs called coelurosaurs (see pages 44-45).
Archaeopteryx was a very primitive bird. It has been called a missing link in the evolutionary chain between the dinosaurs and modern birds. In some ways it was like a dinosaur. In other ways it was like a bird. It had teeth and a bony tail like a dinosaur. Birds today don't have teeth, and their tails are just long feathers. But, like birds, Archaeopteryx had wings and feathers.
Scientists still don't know for sure why this ancient bird had feathers or whether or not it could fly. Feathers help birds in many ways. Of course, they help birds fly. They also insulate them and help them stay warm. Perhaps feathers began as insulators. Small, warmblooded dinosaurs would have lost heat very quickly. Feathers would have helped keep their bodies at a constant temperature.
The feathers might have served other uses. Some people think that Archaeopteryx ran along the ground, chasing insects and other small prey. When it got close enough, it used its wide, feathered wings to scoop up its meal.
Archaeopteryx probably could not fly, at least the way most birds do today. It did not have the right bones for holding the muscles needed to flap its wings.
But Archaeopteryx might have been able to glide. That's what flying squirrels do. Some scientists think the bird climbed branches in search of prey, then spread its wings and floated gently back to the ground. Other scientists think it lived only on the ground."

http://ancientlifepublishing.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/WDDCF_front_cover_72dpi-copy.jpg

OK in the 1980s, but not in the 2000s ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RAVE9K9147YWQ/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

As you may remember, I grew up with "Zoobooks" magazine ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R94XM1O8E45DV/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ). Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" is my favorite issue of said magazine, so I was very excited to get Wexo's "Where Did Dinosaurs Come From?" (henceforth WD). I originally thought that WD was going to be the sequel issue I've always wanted. Boy, was I wrong about WD! WD would've been OK in the 1980s, but not in the 2000s. Switek's WD review ( http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/where-did-dinosaurs-come-from-49918128/?no-ist ) sums up most of the reasons why, but not the most important reason. In this review, I point you to Switek's WD review & add my own thoughts as well:
-The most important reason is that WD was billed as new when it actually was 20 years old: 1st, see the back cover; Then, compare that to "t-rex, prehistoric #zoobooks, #1989. #science!" ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/14859306@N06/5914388328 ). This explains most of the inaccuracies. However, there are several weird bits throughout WD that can't be explained by its outdatedness (E.g. See the Wexo quote).
-I'm surprised that Switek didn't say more about the paleoart given that, to quote Switek ( http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/10/a-dinosaur-reading-list-for-everyone/ ), "Everyone knows that half the fun of paleontology is imagining how prehistoric creatures looked and moved." In addition to Sibbick, WD is illustrated by Orr, Francis, & Newman. Sibbick's paleoart is especially noteworthy: For 1, to paraphrase Vincent ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-dinosaur-art-creatures-of-long.html ), "The illustrations in [WD] show a marked improvement over those in the Norman encyclopedia from just [4] years prior. They demonstrate a stage in the evolution from Sibbick's earlier stodge-o-saurs to the altogether more active, muscular and modern-looking restorations of the '90s"; For another, it's very jarring to see Sibbick's T.rex in the style of Hallett's.
-In some ways, WD is better than the original (E.g. The main stuff is more well-organized, beginning with "some of the earliest creatures on earth" & ending with the Age of Dinosaurs). In other ways, WD is worse than the original (E.g. The sidebar stuff is more hit-&-miss).* In still other ways, they're about the same (E.g. Both refer to T.rex by different genus names).
-If you want a good alternative to WD, get Bakker's "The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs": For 1, not only does Bakker's book cover much of the same background info, but also goes well beyond;** For another, Bakker's book doesn't shy away from discussing evolution, using "the dreaded e-word" multiple times.

*While the hits really hit (E.g. A comparison of sauropods' teeth & garden tools), the misses really miss (E.g. A race between a man & various theropods in which the man is winning & the theropods are scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason).

**To quote Switek, "The trouble is that by the time Wexo gets to the dinosaurs, relatively little time is spent on explaining how different groups of dinosaurs evolved or even when different kinds of dinosaurs lived…The book then abruptly ends with no concluding section tying the lessons of the book together. Likewise, the fact that the book never discusses feathered dinosaurs or that birds are living theropod dinosaurs is a major flaw." Bakker's book does the exact opposite of all that & MUCH more.
Quoting Wexo: "For a long time, the simple plants fed themselves on chemicals that were dissolved in the water. Later, they started to make food from sunlight and chemicals, as plants do today. But they did not eat each other…Then one day, for reasons that are not clear, one plant did eat another plant…and thereby became the 1st animal. Eating other plants was a good way to get food. For this reason, more and more new species of "animals" came along as time passed. Some new species of animals had the first mouths, to eat plants more easily."

Friday, March 4, 2016

Jurassic World Mosasaur UPDATE

Unexpectedly my one off silly rant post about the Mosasaur in Jurassic World has become one of the most popular posts on this site.

As a result I figured I'd put a little more effort into my "findings". 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Animated Victorian Dinosaur

My first animation test cylce on Mr. Iguanodon. It is too fast, but if the overall motions slow down, it should move with a sense of bulk and mass.

To my knowledge this is the first time a Waterhouse Dawkins style Dinosaur has been animated. I'm not boasting, I'm legitimately curious. Does anyone know of another time this has been done?

video


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Waterhouse Hawkins Dinosaur 2

I'm now pretty set on my first animated project. A little more cornball and whacky. I realized probably best to do a one off, rather then tackle a potential series first.

So I'm going with old school Dinosaurs, in a more whimsical project that draws on my interests in palaeo-history.








Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old School Dinosaur

Forget your feathers vs. no feathers. One of my doodle projects of late, is as old school a reconstruction as you can get ;)

I am thinking about animating him at some point.

Does anyone know of any 3D animated Waterhouse Hawkins style Dinosaurs?

By Craig Dylke

By Craig Dylke

By Craig Dylke

By Craig Dylke

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Craig's Animation Project- update #3

Been tinkering away on my animated project. I'm narrowing in on my format, and how to communicate some science.

The first step is I've rough recreated my favourite scene from Jurassic World... though when I say favourite one must understand this is very conditional, and only within the context of the film. I found JW to be a very painful waste of time (probably more so than even Jurassic Park 3).

Doc31

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My (Dinosaur Related) Board Game Exploits

As I've mentioned in posts before, I've gone quiet on the palaeo-art front for the past three-ish years as I delved into free lance (and one semi-pro) board game design.

I find this is no longer holding my interest like it did, and that prehistory is starting to beckon (all be it in a new form... aka my upcoming animated project).

Still I thought it'd be worth a post on here to show off some of my prehistoric themed game productions.

You'll note not all these are solely based on my own 3D abilities. I tip my hat to the creators who were kind enough to make their models avaliable via CC liscense. All posts on the amazing collection of work over at 3D Sketchup Warehouse.

I emphasis here, none of my maps were ever for monetary sale... EVER! (Full Disclosure: I have bartered my time putting some of my maps together in exchange for gaming product. Only the Savage Land was such a commission out of these in this post)

So check out my Dinosaur themed maps.

Savage Land
Whole Composition and 3D assets by Craig Dylke

Badlands
Canoe model by Sam..
Army Tent model by Battery519IDA
Camping Tent model by Iain M
All other 3D models, assets and photos by Craig Dylke

Jurassic Park: Raptor's Pen
Raptor Pen model by Tyradoraptor

JP Wrangler Jeep model by Alex89111
Raptor Cage model by Robert Pearce, AIA
The few other models, but definitely the lighting by Craig Dylke 

Jurassic Park: Visitor's Center
JP Explorer Jeep model by ruskofe.54
Jurassic Park Cafeteria Mural by Unknown (if you know who please let me know)
All other models, 3D assets, and textures by Craig Dylke

Jurassic Park: Tyrannosaurus Rex Paddock
JP Explorer Jeep model by ruskofe.54
JP Wrangler Jeep model by Alex89111
T-Rex Paddock Sign model by Francisco O.
JP Electric Fence model by Luca F (with heavy modification by Craig Dylke)
All other models and 3D assets by Craig Dylke

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Craig's Animation Project part 2

The more I tinker with my animation for potential Dino youtube video projects, the more ideas pop into my head (kind of how Traumador had very varied adventures throughout his tenure).

So while this one isn't directly related, I'm quite happy with it.

video

I'm starting to think tiny little "real" Jurassic Park sketches would be a good warm up to bigger projects. We'll just have to see.

Enjoy the Dolichorhynchops animation in the meantime ;)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life: New Zoobooks Dinos

https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/projects/2244541/photo-original.jpg?v=1452038574&w=1536&h=1152&fit=crop&auto=format&q=92&s=d732b52eeffda4732dab71ab304f3922

Hi everybody,

If you're anything like me (I.e. A life-long dino fan born in the 1980s), you probably grew up w/"Zoobooks" magazine. Wexo's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" (henceforth ZD: http://www.amazon.com/Zoobooks-Dinosaurs-John-Bonnett-Wexo/dp/B009BN47P6 ) is my favorite issue of said magazine. I've always wanted a sequel issue or updated edition to ZD, but never thought there'd be 1. I then found out about "Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life: New Zoobooks Dinos for Kids" ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/411282443/bring-dinosaurs-back-to-life-new-zoobooks-dinos-fo ) & pledged $25 (the rewards for which include the new ZD). In short, I recommend that everyone pledges (especially if you like dinos or said magazine or have ever used Kickstarter).

Cheers,
Herman Diaz

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My 13th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a great book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 12th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-12th-pair-of-reviews.html

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61zZDajxrBL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Interesting ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R2IQJJ88JEJCNK/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 5/5

Short version: Sereno's "How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus?" (henceforth Tough) is MUCH better than a children's dino Q&A book has any right to be. I recommend reading Tough in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs" in general & Chapter 17 in particular).

Long version: Read on.

To quote the Nostalgia Critic ( http://thatguywiththeglasses.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_(Dreamworks-uary) ), "By all outward appearances, I should hate How to Train Your Dragon. This has so many things I can't stand in a movie...But for some reason, here, it really, really works. There's just something about the way this story is told and presented and paced that just really, really gets it." The same goes for Tough. In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) As you may remember, I generally dislike the dino Q&A genre for 3 main reasons: 1) Redundant questions; 2) Vague answers; 3) Bad Q&As (I.e. Stupid or misleading questions & misleading or wrong answers). What's interesting about Tough is that the questions are precise, the answers are concise, & the Q&As are good.

2) I generally dislike children's dino Q&A books for being poorly-illustrated, among other things. You'd think the same would go for Tough given Courtney's previous work ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2013/11/vintage-dinosaur-art-dinosaurs-giants.html ). What's interesting about Tough is that "the illustrations...show a marked improvement over those...from just [1 year] prior. They demonstrate a stage in the evolution from [Courtney's] earlier stodge-o-saurs to the altogether more active, muscular and modern-looking restorations of the '90s" ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2012/12/vintage-dinosaur-art-creatures-of-long.html ).* My only gripe is the anachronistic assemblages of animals (E.g. On pages 8-9, there's T.rex, Corythosaurus, Astrodon, Ankylosaurus, Protoceratops, & Oviraptor).

3) I generally dislike children's dino Q&A books for being poorly-organized, among other things. It doesn't help that their titles are often based on random Q&As (E.g. The title of my next review's book). What's interesting about Tough is that its title isn't just a random Q&A, but the overarching theme. You'd think I'd have a major problem with that given that T.rex is the most overexposed & overstudied dino. What's doubly interesting about Tough is that it uses T.rex as a vehicle to address a broader range of topics (E.g. See the Sereno quotes, which are from the 1st & last pages of Tough).

*Don't take my word for it, though. Google "How Tough Was a Tyrannosaurus? by Mrs Smart on Prezi" & see for yourself.
Quoting Sereno: "Did all the dinosaurs live at the same time?
Dinosaurs lived on earth for many millions of years, but no one kind of dinosaur existed for the entire time. Fierce Tyrannosaurus…for example, appeared only near the very end of the dinosaur age. Many other dinosaurs had already appeared and become extinct…died out." 
Quoting Sereno: "Are any animals alive today related to the dinosaurs?
Yes. The ancestry of birds can be traced back to small flesh-eating relatives of Tyrannosaurus. In the long view of time, birds are really feathered dinosaurs!"

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Like playing Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril ( https://www.amazon.com/review/RGU1QQZ5DR8A5/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 1/5

Short version: The combination of unanswered questions, wrongly-answered questions, & everything in between makes reading Theodorou's "I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns: and Other Questions about Dinosaurs" (henceforth Wonder) like playing "Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril" ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5xHcnTcKI ). If you want to know "Why Triceratops Had Horns", see "For Defense" on pages 48-49: digitallibrary.amnh.org/bitstream/handle/2246/6511/NH114n04.pdf

Long version: Read on.

As you may remember, I generally dislike the dino Q&A genre for 3 main reasons: 1) Redundant questions; 2) Vague answers; 3) Bad Q&As (I.e. Stupid or misleading questions & misleading or wrong answers). However, when I originally said that, I was specifically referring to adult dino Q&A books. Children's dino Q&A books in general & Wonder in particular are even worse:
-Redundant questions? Uncheck (There are only 30 questions), but Wonder more than makes up for this in the following ways.
-Vague answers? Check times infinity! The 1st Theodorou quote is the worst because 1) the main text completely dodges 1 of the biggest questions in science, & 2) the sidebar text only mentions invalid hypotheses (I.e. Poisonous plants & periodic comet showers).
-Bad Q&As? Check times infinity! The 2nd Theodorou quote is the worst because it fails on many levels: It contradicts itself from a previous Q&A (Again, see the 1st Theodorou quote; If "all the dinosaurs vanished", then there wouldn't be "any dinosaurs around today"); It fails to understand how evolution works (If birds "developed from dinosaurs", then they ARE "true dinosaurs"); It avoids using the word "evolution" (as does the rest of Wonder); It fails to understand that "developed" =/= "evolved" (See "Backgrounder": http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/04/2/l_042_02.html ).

But wait, there's more!:
-Wonder is a confusing mess in terms of organization. This is especially apparent in the Q&As about finding & reconstructing dino fossils: For 1, you have to find dino fossils BEFORE you can reconstruct them; For another, the text explaining said processes is scattered all over with no apparent rhyme or reason.
-Wonder's more realistic reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the Apatosaurus reconstructions: For 1, they're shameless rip-offs of the "Safari Ltd Carnegie Scale Model Apatosaurus", Sibbick's "Normanpedia" Apatosaurus, & Hallett's "Zoobooks - Dinosaurs" Apatosaurus; For another, they combine "a Sibbickian concentric ring skin pattern with a finely polished finish reminiscent of a 4x4 vehicle purchased by a money-crazed, wantonly aggressive businessperson" ( http://chasmosaurs.blogspot.com/2015/08/vintage-dinosaur-art-dinosaurs-1987.html ).
-Wonder's more cartoony reconstructions are even worse: For 1, not only are most of them unrecognizable as the genera they're intended to represent, but the others are only recognizable because they're shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions; For another, not only are all of them unfunny, but some of them are also very disturbing (E.g. Why are a bat & a pterosaur giving each other "do me" eyes?; Why was that woman drilling into a living Ankylosaurus?; etc).
Quoting Theodorou: "What happened to the dinosaurs?
Something very strange happened 65 million years ago. All the dinosaurs vanished, together with all the flying reptiles and most of the sea reptiles. Know one knows for sure what happened to them." 
Quoting Theodorou: "Are there any dinosaurs around today?
Although there aren't any true dinosaurs alive today, we do have some of their relatives. Scientists think that birds developed from dinosaurs, because their skeletons are so similar. So look carefully the next time you see a bird nesting in a tree or hopping across the grass!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Upcoming Palaeo-art Project

After a rather long hiatus (at least 3 years overall) from palaeoart, taking on a moonlighting "career" in the board game industry, I've (Craig) decided to travel back into deep time recreation.

I'm looking into making a series of little educational animations about Dinosaurs and other prehistoric critters as they behave/appear in movies vs. what we know in the fossil record.

As this is just for fun I have no strict deadline set. However I'll post some of my progress up here if people are interested.

I'm also looking for ideas on topics. So far I have (thus the previews posted):
  • Could T-Rex run as fast as a jeep? (the answer being no)
  • Could a "Pteradactyl" carry you off for lunch? (answer no, no again for the actual meant Pteranodon, and worse a Quetzalcoatlus would just eat you for lunch)
  • Could a Mosasaur eat a great White Shark? (answer only a unrealistically large one)
I want the topics posed as questions, and typically shaped or informed by movies/TV show depictions of prehistoric life. Adding an extra dimension of difficulty, I don't want to just cover carnivores (in particular theropods), though I'll do several I'm sure. I just want some variety in what I'm animating/modelling.

I'm not aiming for JP level production values, so this is my intended style and level of detail. Think 3D style Hanna Barbera (hopefully with better writing :P)


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Sunday, November 15, 2015

My 12th Pair of Reviews

As an Art Evolved member, I post a pair of my reviews here every so often, the 1st being positive & the 2nd being negative. I'd greatly appreciate you reading & voting "Yes" for said reviews in the bolded links below. Besides wanting to make sure said reviews give a good idea of what to expect, they need all the "Yes" votes they can get because 1) the 1st is for a very good book that deserves more attention, & 2) the 2nd is outnumbered by opposing reviews (which don't give a good idea of what to expect). Many thanks in advance.

P.S. For my previous reviews, see the following posts:
-My 1st-10th Pairs of Reviews: http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/06/my-10th-pair-of-reviews.html
-"My 11th Pair of Reviews": http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2015/10/my-11th-pair-of-reviews.html

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This book should have more reviews ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R3J8882CLGWDY1/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 4/5

Whenever I read Schlein's "The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx" (henceforth Puzzle), I wonder why it doesn't have more reviews? I wonder because Puzzle is 1 of the best pre-Sinosauropteryx dino-bird books for older kids.* In this review, I list the 3 main reasons why I think that is.

1) Puzzle is very authoritative: Not only is it consulted by Dr. John Ostrom, but also contributed to by Gregory Paul & Nicholas Hotton III; To quote Taylor ( http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/dino/faq/s-lit/books/ ), "those are big guns firing."

2) Puzzle is very complete & concise: Not only does it cover the history of "the dinosaur-bird connection" from the 1860s to the 1970s, the Protoavis Controversy, the Chinese feathered dinos (I.e. Sinornis & Confusiusornis), & every Archaeopteryx specimen then known, but it does so in 40 pages; Most dino books for older kids are at least 48 pages.

3) Puzzle is very well-illustrated: The beautiful paleoart of Hallett is worth the price alone; The diagrams & reconstructions in particular are both very nostalgic & very prescient.**

At this point, you may be wondering why only 4/5 stars? For 1, there's too much Linnaean taxonomy (I.e. See the Holtz quote; Puzzle beats the dead horse that is "that debate"). For another, there's not enough cladistics (I.e. There are no cladograms in Puzzle; This is despite the fact that clades "are central to a modern understanding of how we living things relate to each other": https://www.facebook.com/grandmotherfish/photos/a.323081411177915.1073741827.307222832763773/535824073236980/?type=1&permPage=1 ). Even still, I recommend reading Puzzle in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs").

*By "dino-bird books", I mean books about "the dinosaur-bird connection".

**Nostalgic because they're "Zoobooks" magazine-esque. Prescient because all the non-tyrannosaurid coelurosaurs are thickly plumaged.
Quoting Holtz (See GSPaul's "The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs"): "In the 1970s through the mid-1980s, there was some debate among paleontologists over whether dinosaurs should be considered reptiles. That debate did not concern a difference of opinion as to the position of dinosaurs in the family tree of vertebrates. It instead centered on the debate over dinosaurs' physiology: Were dinosaurs cold-blooded, like "reptiles" (as the term was used then) or were they warm-blooded, like their descendants the birds? To most paleontologists today, dinosaurs are considered a type of reptile, and birds are considered a type of reptile. This shift has occurred because of the way biologists use their formal taxonomic names...Once scientists accepted that monophyletic groups would be the only type used in taxonomy, the debate whether dinosaurs were reptiles was over. The name Reptilia now applies to a particular branch of the family tree of the vertebrates, not to some general "grade" of development (that is, cold-blooded terrestrial vertebrates with a shelled egg). Since dinosaurs are part of that branch, whether they were cold-blooded or warmblooded is not a consideration in their classification: they are reptiles."

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1 of the worst edutainment adaptations ( https://www.amazon.com/review/R1SNCFJECE6XS1/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv ): 2/5

As you may remember, I said that "The Magic School Bus" show isn't the worst edutainment adaptation (
http://www.amazon.com/review/R1A9PA105I2590/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B007I1Q4RM&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=2625373011&store=movies-tv ). That's because "The Magic School Bus Scholastic Reader Level 2" books based on the show are even worse. In this review, I list the 2 main reasons why I think Schwabacher's "The Magic School Bus Flies with the Dinosaurs" (henceforth Magic) in particular is that bad.

1) Magic's text is lacking in both quantity & quality. This is especially apparent in the reports: For 1 (in reference to quantity), there's only 1 report for every 5 pages of Magic; Compare that to the 1 report for every 2 pages of Cole's "The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs"; For another (in reference to quality), compare the Schwabacher quote to the Cole quote; The former is basically a dumbed down version of the latter.

2) Magic's reconstructions are shameless rip-offs of more famous reconstructions, just plain outdated/abominable, or some combination of both. This is especially apparent in the T.rex & the Sinornithosaurus: Not only is the former based on Osborn's T.rex from 1916 ( http://dino.lindahall.org/osb1916b.shtml ), but its face looks like Jeff the Killer's face;* Not only is the latter a shameless rip-off, but it's a shameless rip-off of Groves' abominable model of Sinornithosaurus (See the cover of Sloan's "How Dinosaurs Took Flight: The Fossils, the Science, What We Think We Know, and Mysteries Yet Unsolved").

To sum up, I recommend reading Cole's "The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs" in conjunction with other, more recent books (E.g. Holtz's "Dinosaurs"). All the non-Cole "Magic School Bus" books (especially those about dinos) should be avoided.

*If you google "Jeff the Killer", don't do it at night.
Quoting Schwabacher: "THE STORY OF FOSSILS by Arnold
After millions of years, the ashes turned to rock. The dinosaur bones turned to rock, too. Now they are called fossils. People find the fossils and learn about dinosaurs."
Quoting Cole: "HOW A DEAD DINOSAUR COULD BECOME A FOSSIL by Carmen
1. The dead body sank in a river, and rotted away.
2. The bones were covered with sand.
3. In time, the sand turned into rocks.
4. The bones became hard as rock, too."