Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved

Naish, Darren & . Smithsonian. Oct. 2016. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781588345820. $29.95. NAT HIST
Those who think dinosaurs are nature's failed experiment with slow-witted, shambling, overgrown lizards will quickly find their minds changed by Naish (Tetrapod Zoology blog, Scientific American) and Barrett (merit researcher, the Natural History Museum, London). In plain language, albeit hindered by passive voice, the authors resurrect fleet-footed, sometimes feathered and festooned, possibly warm-blooded creatures, some of which were direct ancestors of modern birds. Naish and Barrett detail dinosaur anatomy; phylogeny and cladistics; the adaptations that made these Mesozoic giants successful for eons; and maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs' relation to birds. They carefully describe functional morphology, paleoecology, and other methods by which paleontologists reconstruct the past. Images and captions work seamlessly with and enhance the text. However, the authors provide no references to other scientists' efforts. They also fail to translate fully most Latin names. This resource complements several slightly older titles, such as M.K. Brett-Surman and Thomas R. Holtz Jr.'s The Complete Dinosaur and John Pickrell's Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds, while Stephen L. Brusatte's Dinosaur Paleobiology offers a more technical treatment.
VERDICT For those who enjoy science but haven't thought about dinosaurs in a while, this volume brings these creatures to mind in a whole new way.
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