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The Complete Dinosaur (Life of the Past) Second Edition Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0253357014
ISBN-10: 0253357012
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The 40-plus chapters in The Complete Dinosaur range from raw, cutting-edge science that drips with original data to surveys of the history of dinosaur collecting that are suitable for even the most jargon-shy readers. Editors James O. Farlow and M. K. Brett-Surman admit that they were "teenage geeks who loved the movies of Willis O'Brien, Ray Harryhausen, and Jim Danforth, and the novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs," and they do not neglect their roots. There are chapters covering all the hot topics of contemporary dinosaur research, including footprints, metabolism, and meteor strikes; there is also a section on determining how many lawyers you need to feed a captive Tyrannosaurus rex. It's a remarkable fusion between scientific research--warts, conflicts, and all--and public understanding. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Very similar in length and scope to the Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs (LJ 11/1/97), this work features signed articles by many of the same distinguished paleontologists with the goal of providing a single authoritative account of dinosaur paleontology accessible to the general reader. The contributors were instructed to keep technical jargon to a minimum. The articles are grouped by six categories: Discovery of Dinosaurs, Study of Dinosaurs, Groups of Dinosaurs, Biology of Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Evolution, and Dinosaurs and the Media. When controversial topics arise, the editors have provided opposing viewpoints rather than picking sides. For example, the "extinction" article is presented as "A dialogue between a Catastrophist and a Gradualist." Dinosaurs are described by group rather than by individual genera, so this is not the place to find a picture of a specific kind of dinosaur (though the illustrations are generally informative). With simpler language, more background information, and a subject rather than an alphabetical organization that makes for a more coherent presentation, this is a better purchase for public and school libraries than the Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, which is written as a review of dinosaur research literature for specialists. An excellent encyclopedia that serves as a nice bridge between popular and scholarly dinosaur literature.?Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Life of the Past
  • Hardcover: 1128 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Second Edition edition (June 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253357012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253357014
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Faced with all the problems of trying to make science interesting to kids, there is, nor will there ever be anything quite so universally exciting as dinosaurs. But like any field of research, the outsider must suffer from being just that--an outsider. Without prior knowledge of the subject area one can easily fill their heads with outdated or only periphrial knowledge. What one needs is a good (up to date and user-friendly) source book, and The Complete Dinosaurs is without doubt one of the primier resources for both the outsider and insider on these ancient reptiles.
Although content will require some basic knowledge of biology (and you will find refresher material here as well--remember all your bones?), the chapters are for the most part always interesting, and some reflect the unquestionable enthusiasm of the authors. One particular chapter on the use of multimedia in cataloging and exchanging dinosaur data, while seemingly irrelevant to folks who just want to know the name of a dinosaur, spoke volumes of dedication and commitment to moving dinosaur finds from museum closets into scientists hands around the world. This level of enthusiasm does not diminish through the book, making what would otherwise be a very heavy read into something of a treat.
There are two or three other dinosaur books that may be as definitive as this one, however from paging through 'The Dinosauria' and 'The Dinosaur Encyclopedia', Farlow's books seemed the most approachable/accessible, while also not shorting the reader on content.
While this and the other dinosaur books mentioned might be a bit challenging at times for readers who don't have a background in biology, geology, paleontology, etc. (IE there is a lot of prior knowledge about evolutionary theory that the reader is assumed to possess), I would still not hestitate to recommend it to someone with a passion for Dinosaurs...which should be about everyone by now, right?
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By A Customer on September 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
First, take one bright, enthusiastic person with an interst in paleontology. Second, add a dash of The Complete Dinosaur. Third, allow to sit for a week or two. Sounds almost too easy, doesn't it? Although most people are interested in the findings of science, science is usually viewed as too difficult for the average person to "do." This book starts with interesting, non-technical essays on subjects pertaining to dinosaurs, the history of their discovery, and how artists learn to restore them. Then it moves through how paleontologists work on things like anatomy, geology, and how dinosaurs are related to one another. By the end of the book, the reader is reading full-blown technical treatises, without realizing it. This engaging book is also sprinkled with amusing annecdotes (how many lawyers would it take to feed a T. rex?). The good nature of the editors, combined with the lively writing of the individual authors, makes the transition from interested layman to knowledgale amateur an easy one. Many paleontologists I work with have their own copy of this book as a reference. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Do you want to get "into" Dinosaurs? This is the place to start. The Complete Dinosaur is a comprehensive introduction to what is currently known about dinosaurs and how it is known. From the history of the earliest fossil hunters to dinosaur biology, paleogeography and even an overview of dinosaurs in the media throughout the years.

The book is organized into chapters, each of which contains a deep look at its subject and yet is perfectly readable by laymen (such as myself). Even though many contributors wrote for this book, there is a sense of cohesiveness through the entire book. At a massive 768 pages, it is a very long read but seldom does it get tedious except perhaps a few chapters on dinosaur biology that get a bit too technical.

The book contains abundant references at the end of each chapter and a huge index a the end so it serves as a very useful reference on your library.

Other books that compare to this one are "The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs" edited by Greg Paul and "Encylopedia of Dinosaurs" edited by Phil Currie, both renown paleontologists. "The Complete Dinosaur" is more comprehensive than the first one and is arranged in a more readable format than the second one which arranges its articles in alphabetic order.

The only weakness of the book is its age. Written in 1997 it is probably due to a revision given that the fiels of paleontology has been progressing by leaps and bounds in the last few decades.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great intermediate level dinosaur book. It has a lot of details, but not enough to prevent non-experts from following it. It has 43 chapters divided into six parts. The chapters were written by experts in the individual subjects. This has the nice feature of making the chapters fairly independent, however it also makes the presentation a bit disjointed at times.

The first part deals with the process and history of discovering dinosaurs. The history of science isn't my favorite topic, so I just skimmed this part and can't really comment on it.

The second part describes the tools and techniques used to study dinosaurs. This includes excavations, the study of bones, taxonomy and cladistics, morphology, biomolecular techniques and exhibiting dinosaurs. There is a lot of interesting information, this material is fairly fundamental to the study of dinosaurs. Some of it is pretty easy to follow, some (like data management techniques) is a little more difficult to follow (for me anyway). None of it is prohibitively difficult.

Part three is a collection of chapters covering archosaurs, early dinosaurs and the various dinosaur families. Given that they were written by different authors, there is no consistent format for the chapters. I would have liked to have seen more material on how the families are related to each other. On the whole, I liked the level of detail.

Part four describes dinosaur biology. It contains a fascinating set of topics. A partial list of them is: plants in the Mesozoic, dinosaur diets, dinosaur dynamics, dinosaur eggs (covered in a nice amount of detail) and dinosaur paleopathology (a topic that doesn't often seem to get covered in this level of detail).
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