Dinosaurs, Paleontology, and Prehistoric Life.
Book Reviews by Mike Fredericks from the pages of the
The Prehistoric Times Magazine
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                                        From Issue #77     April - May 2006

Please help us to make Non Extinct Dinosaurs all inclusive of new books and other items of interest to PT readers by helping us get review copies. If you wrote a book, illustrated a book, published a book or have a cousin who knows a guy who knows another guy that might have had something to do with a book , please send us a copy for our review.

Fossil Invertebrates by Paul D. Taylor, David N. Lewis $35.00 Hardcover: 208 pages Harvard University Press ISBN: 0674019725 Fossil Invertebrates introduces readers to the biosphere as it was hundreds of millions of years ago, when seas teemed with animal forms both familiar and strange: ammonites and corals, mollusks and sponges, crinoids and trilobites. On land, terrestrial forms were beginning to make their mark, leaving behind traces such as burrows and track ways and other fossil evidence of the important transition to life on land. The plates in this book capture the incredibly detailed impressions and casts of ancient life, contrasting them with forms, such as the horseshoe crab and the chambered nautilus, that persist today virtually unchanged. The shells and hard exoskeletons of invertebrates make them excellent candidates for fossilization, and the amateur fossil collectors are more likely to uncover an invertebrate fossil than any other kind. The fossilized remains of invertebrates dominate university collections and museum holdings worldwide and their study continues to yield important insights into the nature of evolutionary change and the impact of climate change on biodiversity, as great explosions of diversity were succeeded by mass extinctions. Paul D. Taylor and David N. Lewis, both of the Natural History Museum, London, have written a comprehensive and accessible resource, one that provides undergraduates and amateur fossil enthusiasts with a means to understand and interpret this rich fossil record. The writing is easy to understand and the book is packed with photos in both b&w and in full color.
The Art of Ray Harryhausen (Hardcover) by Ray Harryhausen, Tony Dalton, Peter Jackson (Foreword) $50.00 230 pages Publisher: Billboard Books, ISBN: 0823084000 Ray Harryhausen is the master of stop-motion animation responsible for the animation of the 7th Voyage Cyclops, the Rhedosaurus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the ape Mighty Joe Young, the fighting skeletons of Jason and the Argonauts, the T. Rex of Island of the Gwangi and many more creatures that have thrilled us over the years. The father of special effects, Ray Harryhausen is revered among film historians, animators, special-effects designers, and everyone who's ever seen his inspired stop-motion creations. In 2004, Watson-Guptill published Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life to critical acclaim and sales of 20,000 copies. Now they present a companion book: The Art of Ray Harryhausen. This coffee-table volume showcases the material Harryhausen discovered in his archives while researching Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life. It focuses on sketches, key drawings, storyboards, and preliminary clay models rather than scenes (movie stills) from the films. Concise essays and lavish illustrations look at each of Harryhausen's many specialities, including aliens, prehistoric creatures, mythological monsters, and much more. The book also cover Harryhausen's early work, including his work with animation legend Willis O'Brien on Mighty Joe Young; his dinosaur movies, such as One Million Years B.C. and the series of films portraying the adventures of Sinbad. Harryhausen hugely influenced younger filmmakers. In the introduction, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson says he grew up wanting to become Harryhausen's apprentice and notes that the animator's films "have lost none of their ability to provoke wonder." At last, we fans of Harryhausen can see the progression of his work over time, in a visual celebration of his art and artistry.
Extinction- How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago by Douglas H. Erwin, Hardcover: 306 pages, $24.95 Publisher: Princeton University Press ISBN: 0691005249 Some 250 million years ago, the earth suffered the greatest biological crisis in its history, a global catastrophe far greater than the dinosaurs' demise 65 million years ago. The Permian event is probably the closest that life on Earth ever came to being completely extinguished. Around 95 percent of marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrates were wiped out, a greater percentage of the Earth's species than the next two largest mass extinctions combined. The break in the fossil record at the Permian boundary is so severe that 19th-century geologists saw it as evidence of two completely separate creations of life. How this happened remains a mystery. But there are many competing theories. Some blame huge volcanic eruptions that covered an area as large as the continental United States; others argue for sudden changes in ocean levels and chemistry, including burps of methane gas; and still others cite the impact of an extraterrestrial object, similar to what caused the dinosaurs' extinction. Erwin's new book is a paleonto-logical mystery story. Here, the world's foremost authority on the subject provides a fascinating overview of the evidence for and against a whole host of hypotheses concerning this cataclysmic event that unfolded at the end of the Permian. After setting the scene, Erwin introduces the suite of possible perpetrators and the types of evidence paleontologists seek. He then unveils the actual evidence— moving from China, where much of the best evidence is found; to a look at extinction in the oceans; to the extraordinary fossil animals of the Karoo Desert of South Africa. Erwin reviews the evidence for each of the hypotheses before presenting his own view of what happened. Although full recovery took tens of millions of years, this most massive of mass extinctions was a powerful creative force, setting the stage for the development of the world as we know it today. The author doesn't claim to have the answer to the event's cause but tells a fascinating story in his attempts to describe the possibilities.
Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia, Supplement 4 (Hardcover) by Donald F. Glut $95.00. 761 pages Publisher: McFarland & Company, ISBN: 0786422955 Here is the fourth supplement to Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia, a 1998 American Library Association Outstanding Reference Book ("a reference legend... lavishly illustrated, cleverly written, and extraordinarily comprehensive"). As we have said previously, this line of books is a must for your dinosaur reference library, covering the most up-to-date facts about every dinosaur known to science. Since this information is constantly evolving and being added to, supplemental volumes are necessary and great ways to keep up with Paleontology. This volume continues to update the information and concepts discussed in the first volumes. It includes a discussion of the Mesozoic Era, covers recent discoveries in paleontology, and furthers the ectothermy/endothermy debate from previous installments. It also offers lengthy sections on dinosaurian schematics and genera and updates the encyclopedia's list of excluded genera. Appendices discuss pterosaurs and Mesozoic birds, and a glossary is included to aid researchers. The extensive bibliography lists the most recent peer-evaluated paleontology literature. Thoroughly illustrated with artwork and photos of fossils, this new edition is pricey but worth every penny. Don even references Prehistoric Times magazine a couple of times when scientific information has been mentioned here first. As with all of McFarland's books, they can be ordered at their web site www.mcfar-landpub.com or by phone 1-800-253-2187. Donald F. Glut is a prolific book and article writer, and movie producer-director. On top of his Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia series he has written; Jurassic Classics: A Collection of Saurian Essays and Mesozoic Musings and Carbon Dates: A Day by Day Almanac of Paleo Anniversaries and Dino Events. He lives in Burbank, California.
Stop-motion Filming and Performance: A Guide to Cameras, Lighting and Dramatic Techniques (Paperback) by Tom Brierton $49.95 112 pages Publisher: McFarland & Company ISBN: 0786424176 Not everyone realizes that stop-motion animation (the movie process that has created so many dinosaurs) is a creative, demanding art. Though stop-motion requires considerable technical knowledge, it also involves aesthetics and artistry that go beyond the technician's realm. Just as important as puppet mechanics are lighting, filters, lenses, camera angle and placement, and dramatic pose and movement. This manual is a complete guide to the aesthetics of stop-motion animation. Information is organized in an intuitive, easy-to-use structure, following the order an animator uses in setting up and then executing a scene. The first half concentrates on the aesthetics of lighting and cameras, a primary concern in any shot, with details of camera placement, various lenses and myriad lighting techniques. The second half deals with the process of performance art, an oft-overlooked aspect of stop-motion animation. Included is a commentary on body language, facial expression, gesture, movement and emotion-key concepts that are exemplified through the acting process. The work also offers an introduction to narrative form and a glossary of related terms.
Threads from the Web of Life-Stories in Natural History by Stephen Daubert, Hardcover: 162 pages Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press ISBN: 0826515096 In sixteen stories Steve Daubert pulls the reader into the mystery and immediacy of ecological processes spanning a range from microscopic to tectonic to cosmic forces. Each tale brings the reader into the moment to witness an episode of survival in a wild first-hand narrative. The material is presented with a high level of intimacy and detail. These creative non-fiction stories provide not just a bird's eye view but a wasp's eye view, a mouse's, a sea turtle's, a squid's. Sometimes the focus is as small as the detritus on the forest floor, or a single beat of the wing of a gull. Other stories range across evolutionary time. From whales and dinosaurs to creatures invisible to the naked eye, author and illustrator bring to life the dynamic interplay of living, evolving creatures and the natural forces that have shaped their worlds. The book also includes chapter notes that document the scientific basis for each story and describe the controversies still surrounding some of them. The illustrations are are a nice addition in this very original book that can be read together by families. These stories breathe life and emotion into the life and death struggles of creatures eons past. Stephen Daubert has pursued science on the molecular level for thirty years at the University of California, Davis. Illustrator Chris Daubert is Professor of Art at Sacramento City College.
Empires of the Imagination: A Critical Survey of Fantasy Cinema from Georges Melies to the Lord of the Rings (Hardcover) by Alec Worley $45.00 304 pages Publisher: McFarland & Company ISBN: 0786423242 The warlocks and ghosts of fantasy film haunt our popular culture, but the genre has too long been ignored by critics. This comprehensive critical survey of fantasy cinema demonstrates that the fantasy genre amounts to more than escapism. Through a meticulously researched analysis of over a century of fantasy pictures-from the seminal work of Georges Melies to Peter Jackson's recent tours of Middle — earth-the work identifies narrative strategies and their recurring components and studies patterns of challenge and return, setting and character. First addressing the difficult task of defining the genre, the work examines fantasy as a cultural force in both film and literature and explores its relation to science fiction, horror, and fairy tales. Fantasy's development is traced from the first days of film, with emphasis on how the evolving genre reflected such events as economic depression and war. Also consid- ered is fantasy's expression of politics, as either the subject of satire or fuel for the fires of propaganda. Discussion ventures into the subgen-res, from stories of invented lands inhabited by fantastic creatures to magical adventures set in the familiar world, and addresses clashes between fantasy and faith, such as the religious opposition to the Harry Potter phenomenon. From the money-making classics to little-known arthouse films, this richly illustrated work covers every aspect of fantasy film. Not much for dinosaur fans here but there is much crossover between fantasy films and dinosaur films that made me think many PT readers would enjoy this very original book.
Living Dangerously, The Adventures of Merian C Cooper, Creator of King Kong by Mark Cotta Vaz (introduction by Peter Jackson)Hardcover: 496 pages Publisher: Villard ISBN: 1400062764 Explorer, war hero, film-maker, and cinema pioneer Merian C. Cooper — the adventurer who created King Kong — was truly larger than life. "Pictures cannot be made from an executive's desk," "Coop" declared, and he did more than talk the talk — he walked the walk to the far corners of the globe, with a motion picture camera in tow, in an era when those corners were truly unknown, untamed, and unforgiving. Cooper's place in history is assured, thanks not only to the monstrous gorilla from Skull Island but because the story of Kong's creator is even bigger and bolder than the beast he made into a cultural icon. Spellbound since boyhood by tales of life-threatening adventure and exotic locales, Cooper plunged again and again into harrowing expeditions that took him to places not yet civilized by modern man. Cooper was one of the first bomber pilots in World War I. After the war, he helped form the famous Kosciuszko Squadron in battle-torn Poland. He then turned his attention to producing documentary films that chronicled his hair-raising encounters with savage warriors, man-eating tigers, nomadic tribes, and elephant stampedes. In addition to producing King Kong, he was the first to team Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers, arranged Katharine' Hepburn's screen test, collaborated with John Ford on Hollywood's greatest Westerns, and then changed the face of film forever with Cinerama, the original "virtual reality." He returned to military service during World War II, serving with General Claire Chennault in China, flying missions into the heart of enemy territory. This book is a fitting tribute to a two-fisted visionary who packed a multitude of lifetimes into eighty remarkable years. The first comprehensive biography of this unique man and his amazing time, it's the tale of someone whose greatest desire was always to be living dangerously. The many feats and events of Cooper's life will amaze you. A major motion picture really needs to be made documenting it all. Spawn of Skull Island (Hardcover) Hardcover: 256 pages Publisher: Luminary Press (May 2002) ISBN: 1887664459 by George E. Turner, Michael H. Price, Ray Harryhausen, Orville Goldner (Contributor), Douglas Turner (Introduction), Ray Bradbury (Introduction) List Price: $40.00 The late George E. Turner's "The Making of King Kong" was the last word on an American Classic — the definitive primary-source history, written with authority and reverence and an enduring sense of wonder back in its day. The book's publication in 1975 opened many doors for the author, including access to additional insider knowledge that Turner could only wish he had possessed during the writing of The Making of King Kong. He began compiling notes for a revision. These amendments and adjustments had grown to fill several file cabinets by the time of his death in 1999. Spawn of Skull Island is the result of that long-term follow-through-developed from George Turner's original work and all those raw-material revelations by fellow researcher Michael H. Price and George's son, Douglas Turner. The source-book is contained here, intact but for the occasional correction, along with the generous expansion that the author had envisioned. A fantastic source of information on the classic movie that had such a profound effect on so many.
Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television: 581 Dramas, Comedies and Documentaries, 1905-2004 (Paperback) by Michael Klossner $39.95 Paperback: 330 pages Publisher: McFarland & Company ISBN: 0786422157 "Cavemen" have long been a popular subject for filmmakers-not surprisingly, since the birth of cinema occurred only a few decades after the earliest scientific studies of prehistoric man. Filmmakers, however, were not constrained by the emerging science; instead they most often took a comedic look at prehistory, a trend that continued throughout the 20th century. Prehistoric humans also populated adventure-fantasy films, with the original One Million B.C. (1940) leading the charge. Documentaries were also made, but it was not until the 1970s that accurate film accounts of prehistoric humans finally emerged. This exhaustive work provides detailed accounts of 579 film and television productions that feature depictions of human prehistory. Included are dramas and comedies set in human prehistory; documentaries; and films and television shows in which prehistoric people somehow exist in historical periods-from the advent of civilization up to the present-or in extraterrestrial settings. Each entry includes full filmographic data, including year of release, running time, production personnel, cast information, and format. A description of each film provides background on the prehistoric elements. Contemporary critical commentary is included for many of the works. Very similar to Mark Berry's recent McFarland Press book on dinosaur movies, Klossner covers the prehistoric man movie with numerous photos and mountains of information that you will reference again and again.
Dinomite! All About Dinosaurs - 3D Dinosaur Discovery by Darice Bailer with Matthew T Carrano, Ph.D, Scholastic Inc. ISBN 0439838622. The first in a series of books on dinosaurs for kids is packed with amazing full color artwork from the best artists working today and all the basic information young readers seek on those ancient giants of the past - and all in glorious 3D. A fine new effort on the subject. On the editorial page of this magazine I always say that while we don't pay for illustrations, artists whose work is seen in PT often find paying work elsewhere. This new series from Scholastic is another case in point. Scholastic designer Lee Kaplan contacted your PT editor and asked for the contact information of many of the artists seen in PT. I did just that and he employed over a dozen of those artists for this book along (5 more books in the series are coming); several who had never had their dinoart published before.
Also seen on this page are 4 new DVDs that were recently released that we know you will enjoy. Peter Jackson's King Kong was the movie event of 2005. I can't believe it's out on DVD already but who's complaining?! The movie looks almost as good on your home small screen and the 2 disc version has some interesting extras including documentaries on how the film was made in post-production. Gorgo was a great film that has been cleaned up and just released on DVD. You think Gorgo's big? Wait until you see his mom! Also available is a fine video on the making of the Peabody's new Torosaurus sculpture and the Houston Museum's new dino exhibit.