An amazing book should be easy to review.
“Dinosaur Facts and Figures” is amazing, and I’m not certain of where to begin.
The book focuses on theropods and other dinosauriformes. Therapods are a dinosaur suborder characterized by hollow bones and three-toed limbs. Dinosauriformes are reptiles that include dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives.
The book is an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a source of detail on anatomy and development of these creatures, including the avian ancestors of present-day birds.
This is a book of records, largest, smallest, etc., thousands of records and illustrations of everything the authors could find or imagine that would illuminate and illustrate these creatures.
Authors are Ruben Molina-Perez and Asier Larramendi, text translated by David Connolly and Gonzalo Angel Ramirez Cruz. Illustrations are by Andrey Atuchin and Sante Mazzei.
All efforts considered, completion of this book must have taken years.
There are birds in here, illustrated, best guesses on appearance based on pieces of bone and footprints captured in mud.
The first avian therapies, the authors write, “had to be full-time or occasional climbers, and although some could glide, none managed controlled flight.”
They continue: “It is possible that the ability to flap was developed as a way to help climb inclined planes in order to take advantage of new food sources or to escape from predators.”
Some time ago I watched a young Great Horned Owl, fallen from its nest and not yet able to fly, climb a very vertical tree trunk by clawing the bark and flapping its wings to boost it to another talon grip. Some things never change.
Anyway, on page 170 is a drawing of what is described as the smallest Mesozoic waterbird. It is believed to be a diving bird, about 10 inches long, a shorebird lookalike.
The authors use six families of present waterbirds to give us an idea of their very distant ancestors. Used are albatross, gannet, cormorant, diving petrel, razorbill, and penguin. All had predecessors to one degree or another. Similarities came down the line.
The first valid name for an actual flying bird, the authors tell us, is Ichthyornis anceps. The artists’ conception of this creature resembles a cross between a gannet and a pelican.
The oldest long-legged bird is Archaeornithipus meijidei, looking in the drawing like a secretary bird with the head of a goose.
All of this often is determined by the scantest of physical clues, a singular bone, a few bones, imprints in mud. But how fascinating it is to see how various clues from various families lead to these determinations.
The book covers taxonomy, chronology, geography, anatomy, biology biomechanics, locomotion, reproduction, eggs, diet, footprints, history, chronology, sculpture, literature, cinema, theater, television, commercial brands, and formal publications. The book concludes with an exhaustive list of the various members of these families.
All in all, this is a book like no other, an amazing piece of work.
Princeton University Press is publisher of this hard-bound coffee-table-sized book, priced at $29.95. (The price per piece of information contained in the book is ridiculously small.)