Tetrapod Zoology

It would seem that my new book is out

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I am reliably informed that a book I wrote during 2008 – The Great Dinosaur Discoveries (A & C Black, 2009) – is now out and available in the shops.

If you like my stuff you will, hopefully, want to own a copy: it’s high quality, very nicely illustrated, and not all that expensive. While dinosaur books are typically arranged in either phylogenetic or geological fashion, my aim with The Great Dinosaur Discoveries was to show how our knowledge and understanding of dinosaurs has itself evolved over the decades. This sort of thing has only really been done a few times before. Ned Colbert looked at the history of dinosaur science in his 1969 Men and Dinosaurs, and John Gilbert did likewise in the extremely poorly known Dinosaurs Discovered (Hamlyn, 1979). Desmond’s The Hot Blooded Dinosaurs is also notable for its strong historical narrative.

Anyway, while I was planning to write at great length about the book and its contents, I just haven’t had time. For now I’ll note that I tried to include a lot of stuff in the book that hasn’t been covered much before. In addition to such familiar subjects as Osborn and the discovery of Tyrannosaurus rex, Janensch and the Tendaguru sauropods, and Nopcsa’s Transylvanian dinosaurs, I also included such things as the recognition of heterodontosaurids, the discovery of Pelecanimimus, alvarezsaurids, scansoriopterygids and Asian lambeosaurines, the ‘dinosaur renaissance’, Holtz’s ‘tyrannoraptor’ hypothesis, and something that I’ve termed ‘the South American sauropod explosion’.

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When I have discussed ‘familiar’ subjects, I’ve tried to include as much unfamiliar material as possible: as an example, the section on the discovery of Iguanodon includes virtually unknown data on William Bensted’s substantial contribution on the ‘Mantel piece’, while the spread on Barnum Brown’s publication of Ankylosaurus discusses how he used parts of the stegosaur skeleton to fill in his reconstruction. Inclusion of data on the new CT-imaging work produced by the Witmer lab, and mentions of Skorpiovenator, Stokesosaurus langhami, Austroraptor and others, mean that the book is as up-to-date as we could make it. In addition to some fantastic photography, the book also features art by Todd Marshall, Julius Csotonyi, Luis Rey, Davide Bonadonna and others. I might be biased, but I think it looks awesome.

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Alas, constraints meant that a huge number of planned spreads had to be axed, and the volume was originally going to be substantially more complete and representative. Inevitably there are a few mistakes, including some real howlers (the Triassic is in the Palaeozoic now? Yikes). But let’s not worry about those details. If you like the book, then please consider posting a review on Amazon. If you don’t like the book: well, the thing about dinosaur books is that there are an awful lot of them, so go find another one.

Order the book: Great Dinosaur Discoveries.

Comments

  1. #1 Laelaps
    September 22, 2009

    I got a review copy just before I left for Utah & Wyoming last month. It really is a beautifully-illustrated book and what I read of it is quite good. (It is good to see Huxley’s work with dinosaurs get addressed in a little more detail, in addition to everything else.) I’ll have a review up soon on Dinosaur Tracking, as well as one for Scott Sampson’s forthcoming Dinosaur Odyssey.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    September 22, 2009

    Congratulations!
    Your poistings are always intersting and insightful, so I will certainly look it up and purchase and/or get from library – or both.

  3. #3 zach Hawkins
    September 22, 2009

    Another must have book, cangratulations Darren.

  4. #4 kai
    September 22, 2009

    And to get a signed copy?

  5. #5 Zach Miller
    September 22, 2009

    Kai, I plan on getting my copy signed as SVP! 🙂

    It really is a wonderful book. It reads like a series of Tet Zoo articles. The only two things I don’t care for are the “Illustrated Encyclopedia of Prehistoric Animals” clipart (see: Segnosaurus) and the occasional time-warping the book does. For example, pages 90-93 discuss the years 1960-1989, as though the next section of the book is dedicated to that era, and the very next page discusses Dilophosaurus, discovered in 1942. 😉

    But don’t let those minor gripes fool you. Darren has penned a fantastic tome, here.

  6. #6 Jeremy
    September 22, 2009

    Looks great. I will get a copy when the university semester ends and I am no longer a poor student 😛 Your advice about what to do if I don’t like the book made me lol.

  7. #7 davidmaas
    September 22, 2009

    In the shopping cart!

    Errr… as someone who has just recently determined to do paleoart, can I ask how the process went? Did you have direct influence on the artwork? Was it a one-off feedback loop or more engaged discussion? Did you act as editor in any way?

    Zach: the photos look gorgeous. I’ll have to wait to get the book and check out Segnosaurus, but… what is it that makes an illustration look like clip-art?

  8. #8 Vasha
    September 22, 2009

    John Noble Wilford’s The Riddle of the Dinosaur (1985) also mostly concentrates on history of dinosaur paleontology.

  9. #9 Richard Carter, FCD
    September 22, 2009

    Congratulations. And there was I was just thinking that my personal library is seriously short of dinosaur books!

  10. #10 M. O. Erickson
    September 22, 2009

    It looks like a beautiful book, can’t wait to read it. When I get it I’ll post a lengthly review at Amazon. But that non-sprawling Microraptor is worrying me…

  11. #11 Lilian Nattel
    September 22, 2009

    Congratulations!

  12. #12 Kevin Schreck
    September 22, 2009

    Looks excellent! A good balance between beautiful images and highly informative text. Very appealing book.

  13. #13 rose
    September 22, 2009

    Well done. I’m sure it’s an excellent book and will be a Christmas present for many children this year.

  14. #14 Sebastian Marquez
    September 22, 2009

    Congrats Darren! Something to definitely add to my wish list

  15. #15 T. Liu
    September 22, 2009

    I am by no means close to being a biologist, but I like dinosaurs and read what I can understand of the Tet Zoo, which I like (obviously, since I’m here). So, I’m wondering, is this book accessible to a general audience, or should I get a degree in palaeontology first? 🙂

  16. #16 Bob Michaels
    September 22, 2009

    My copy has been mailed by Amazon, being delivered by Pterosaur express.

  17. #17 M. O. Erickson
    September 22, 2009

    “So, I’m wondering, is this book accessible to a general audience, or should I get a degree in palaeontology first? :-)”

    Although I havn’t got my copy yet, from what I can tell it’s a book layfolk can readily understand. Try Greg Paul’s Dinosaurs of the Air for a book you’d need a PhD to make sense of it 🙂

  18. #18 M. O. Erickson
    September 22, 2009

    “My copy has been mailed by Amazon, being delivered by Pterosaur express.”

    Not only is that joke not funny, it barely even makes sense

  19. #19 Mike from Ottawa
    September 22, 2009

    It would seem that my new book is out

    Gee, Darren, get a hold of yourself. Try to contain your enthusiasm.

    Congrats. I’ll have to get a copy.

    BTW, how did you come to write the book?

  20. #20 Jerzy
    September 22, 2009

    Congratulations!

  21. #21 Stevo Darkly
    September 22, 2009

    Awesome! And here I was just thinking it had been a while since I bought any new dinosaur books …

  22. #22 Kittenz
    September 23, 2009

    Congratulations Darren!

    Tetzoo is one of my favorite blogs, and you are among my all-time favorite authors of any genre.

  23. #23 Nathan Myers
    September 23, 2009

    It is so ordered.

    I guess now it’s time to start on “The Great Pterosaur Discoveries”. Or “Ropens, Ahoy!”

    What will become of the axed spreads? Might they appear here?

  24. #24 luna1580
    September 24, 2009

    congrats on the new tome!

    it looks beautiful and interesting, i’ll keep an eye out for it here in chicagoland 🙂

  25. #25 Tim Morris
    September 24, 2009

    Excellent.

    And what’s this about needing a phd to make sense of G Paul’s book? the only part I didnt like was saying that the Protarchaeopteryx was an archeopterygian.

  26. #26 Tim Morris
    September 24, 2009

    I love that. I have a copy.

    I’m just so happy that pleurocoelus was changed to astrodon.

  27. #27 Graham Lucas
    September 24, 2009

    Just ordered my copy from amazon, will be a welcome addition to my library 🙂

  28. #28 M. O. Erickson
    September 24, 2009

    “And what’s this about needing a phd to make sense of G Paul’s book? the only part I didnt like was saying that the Protarchaeopteryx was an archeopterygian.”

    It was just a joke. I actually loved the book.

  29. #29 Matt Wedel
    September 24, 2009

    For example, pages 90-93 discuss the years 1960-1989, as though the next section of the book is dedicated to that era, and the very next page discusses Dilophosaurus, discovered in 1942

    …and named in 1970.

    Next question?

  30. #30 Mickey Mortimer
    September 24, 2009

    “For example, pages 90-93 discuss the years 1960-1989, as though the next section of the book is dedicated to that era, and the very next page discusses Dilophosaurus, discovered in 1942”

    “…and named in 1970.”

    … and only described in depth once Welles’ classic monograph came out in 1984. So Dilophosaurus is quite relevent to the 70’s and 80’s.

  31. #31 Kryptos18
    September 24, 2009

    Slightly off topic, but apparently there’s a new, well-preserved specimen of Anchiornis, anybody got a picture of this bad boy?

  32. #32 dmaas
    September 25, 2009

    Book taking ages to arrive in Germany… via Amazon. Argh. Very much looking forward to it.

  33. #33 William Miller
    September 25, 2009

    Is there an interesting history behind why Dilophosaurus took 28 years to name? Was it originally identified as something else, or just stuck in a museum basement for ages?

  34. #34 Zach Miller
    September 25, 2009

    I apologize for my ignorance!

    Also, the new Anchiornis is over at Theropoda and Archosaur Musings. If anyone needs the paper, just ask!

  35. #35 M. O. Erickson
    September 25, 2009

    “Is there an interesting history behind why Dilophosaurus took 28 years to name? Was it originally identified as something else, or just stuck in a museum basement for ages?”

    It was originally described as as a new species of Megalosaurus, M. wetherelli. A decade later Welles returned to the Kayenta Formation and found a beautifully preserved skeleton, complete with a good skull that clearly showed crests – a feature lacking from the badly preserved type skull. This remains showed that the animal was a distinct genus.

  36. #36 ad
    September 26, 2009

    Darren, congrats on the book. Hey, I was thinking, we need an Itunes for blogging- you should spend more time on the blog and charge people to subscribe or view articles or something. A Tetrapod Zoology Platinum Edition! (What I’m saying is nice hardcover books are out of my pricerange at the moment..)

  37. #37 David Marjanović
    September 27, 2009

    The Anchiornis paper is open-access!!! Nature does that with some extra-spectacular papers. So, just go to http://www.nature.com/nature and download it.

    But that non-sprawling Microraptor is worrying me…

    It cannot sprawl.

    Unless of course you eliminate all soft tissue from anywhere near the hip joint, take the head of the femur out of the acetabulum, and ram the dorsal surface of the femur against the acetabulum so that the trochanteric crest abuts against the dorsal rim of the acetabulum and the dorsal side of the head against the ventral rim.

    …Which was in all seriousness proposed by one of the authors of Bambiraptor in his 2008 SVP meeting talk. TSIB.

    I’m just so happy that pleurocoelus was changed to astrodon.

    The reasons for that are not terribly good, though.

  38. #38 Anonymous
    September 27, 2009

    The American variety of “Pleurocoelus” got changed to Paluxysaurus though.

  39. #39 Andreas Johansson
    September 28, 2009

    Where on the Nature site is the Anchiornis paper?

  40. #40 David Marjanović
    September 28, 2009

    …That’s actually a very good question, because the paper is in the next issue (7264). Not only is it not there when I click on “Current Issue” (which is 7263 at the moment), but it’s not in the Advance Online Publications either. I didn’t notice because a direct link was posted on the DML; I have no idea how Dino Guy Ralph found that URL.

    No idea where to find the supplementary information. I’ll ask.

    Of course, it’s highly probable that everything will show up under “Current Issue” this Thursday.

    The American variety of “Pleurocoelus”

    The Texan one — I’m not aware of anything found outside the US having been referred to Pleurocoelus.

  41. #41 Andreas Johansson
    September 28, 2009

    Thank you!

  42. #42 J.S. Lopes
    September 28, 2009

    There’s a lot of tetrapod news popping out:
    1) Algeripithecus was a lemur, not a monkey
    2) Revised Cetartiodactyla phylogeny at PLosONE, placing Andrewsarchus next to SIamotherium and Entelodonts, and bizarrely “exploding” anthracothere-like animals monophyly.

  43. #43 johannes
    September 28, 2009

    > 2) Revised Cetartiodactyla phylogeny at PLosONE, placing
    > Andrewsarchus next to SIamotherium and Entelodonts, and
    > bizarrely “exploding” anthracothere-like animals monophyly.

    They also find Perissodactyls inside what they simply call “a clade of ungulates”, and Ferae as a sister group to that ungulate clade, see here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0007062

    Whatever happened to Pegasoferae :-0?!

  44. #44 Mu
    September 28, 2009

    Darren must have too many fans, Amazon just said mine isn’t shipping of another 2 weeks.

  45. #45 ad
    September 28, 2009

    “The lack of abundant support for either topology and the outstanding incongruence between data that fossilize and those that do not, suggests that many key fossils remain to be discovered”
    Exactly…re Andy, we are still basing everything off the one skull. A cool article. I like their points about including appropriate outgroups and adequate character/intermediate taxon sampling..reminds me of the situation with the Archaea, wherein the DHVEG superclade requires the correct (Crenarchaeotal) outgroup and a long alignment to be a stable outgroup to Euryarchaeota..

  46. #46 Joao S. Lopes
    September 28, 2009

    And Mesonychians closer to Perissodactyles than to Artiodactyles; it’s the Euungulata or Altungulata clade.

  47. #47 David Marjanović
    September 28, 2009

    Whatever happened to Pegasoferae :-0?!

    Well, nothing. Pegasoferae has never been found by a morphological analysis so far. And I predict that it won’t be till — at least! — every single Paleogene eutherian is included in a data matrix that doesn’t contain too many correlated characters.

  48. #48 M. O. Erickson
    September 28, 2009

    “It cannot sprawl.

    Unless of course you eliminate all soft tissue from anywhere near the hip joint, take the head of the femur out of the acetabulum, and ram the dorsal surface of the femur against the acetabulum so that the trochanteric crest abuts against the dorsal rim of the acetabulum and the dorsal side of the head against the ventral rim.”

    Tell it to Dave Hone. Because he has new, undescribed meterial that shows the Microraptor could sprawl. He has said said so on the Dinobase Public Forum. Seriously, tell him. 🙂

    BTW, what ever happened to that Pristichampsus deal? Curiosity, ya knows :o)

  49. #49 David Marjanović
    September 29, 2009

    BTW, what ever happened to that Pristichampsus deal?

    …Yeah, sorry. When I was in Vienna, I had a lot less time than I had imagined. I’ll look into it.

    Tell it to Dave Hone. Because he has new, undescribed meterial that shows the Microraptor could sprawl.

    What isn’t published has never happened. 🙂 I’ll duly wait for the paper. Till then I’ll continue to rely on the photos in Hwang et al. (2002).

  50. #50 M. O. Erickson
    September 29, 2009

    “Yeah, sorry. When I was in Vienna, I had a lot less time than I had imagined. I’ll look into it.”

    Sorry? No need to apologize when you did nothing.

    “I’ll duly wait for the paper.”

    Probably a good philosophy. Tom Holtz would be proud of you 🙂

  51. #51 Nathan Myers
    September 30, 2009

    My copy arrived today. It has the Triceratops jacket illustration, as shown on the Amazon page. For the Tsaagan photo I had to flip to page 122.

  52. #52 david maas
    October 2, 2009

    Amazon informs me:
    ” Darren Naish “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries”
    Voraussichtliches Lieferdatum: November 03 2009″

    Argh!!!
    A very popular book, it seems.

  53. #53 MarkW
    October 5, 2009

    My copy arrived on Friday (from Amazon UK) and I’ve posted the following review there:

    A new look at dinosaur discoveries

    Darren Naish takes a different look at dinosaurs in this great new book. His novel approach (the clue is in the title) is to show some of the key discoveries of dinosaur fossils, and to explain the way these discoveries changed scientific understanding of these perennially fascinating animals.

    This approach, rather than pouring scorn on the way our forebears “got it wrong”, explains just why they thought the things they did, and puts their views into a framework of evolutionary science that itself has evolved over the past couple of centuries.

    The book never talks down to the reader, being unafraid to use technical language where appropriate, and yet is accessible to the layman (such as myself) with only an amateur’s understanding of the topic. All in all, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

  54. #54 Leonardo Ambasciano
    October 6, 2009

    Darren, please fill in the blog’s right side-bar with your “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries” cover icon [in “Other Information”]. I believe it could be a useful info for occasional blog-readers (and a permanent link to book sellers).

    Leo

  55. #55 Dartian
    October 6, 2009

    Leonardo:

    Darren, please fill in the blog’s right side-bar with your “The Great Dinosaur Discoveries” cover icon [in “Other Information”].

    Surely you mean the left side bar? Apart from that, I agree.

    And Darren, if/when you get busy with updating Tet Zoo’s left side bar, could you also update your link to the Afarensis blog? (Afarensis is no longer hosted by ScienceBlogs.)

  56. #56 Darren Naish
    October 6, 2009

    My blogroll is fucked, to put it mildly, and cannot be updated or modified without – LITERALLY – an entire day of pissing around. I have complained about it several times, will do so again now.

    Have just wasted the past 30 mins adding the new little icon for The Great Dinosaur Discoveries – also not easy. But, thanks for suggestion: good idea. I have another new book out, but copies have yet to arrive.

  57. #57 Leonardo Ambasciano
    October 6, 2009

    Yes, I meant “left side-bar”…sorry!

    Leo

  58. #58 Monado, FCD
    October 10, 2009

    I enjoyed The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs and have been wondering what’s happening with Dinosauria, if that taxon still exists, given the rate of discovery over the last 30 years while I was busy. The story of how our understanding developed is left out of scientific papers and Field Guides to the Dinosaurs. Thank you for telling the story.

    I appreciate the illustrations. You’ve demonstrated on your blog that you can write coherently. This is going to the top of my wish list.

    “It would seem that my new book is out.” Aren’t you jumping for joy? Pressing your nose into the pages and inhaling the smell of scholarship? Congratulations, Darren! And may your book compete successfully in the ecology of the marketplace.

  59. #59 David Marjanović
    October 10, 2009

    Aren’t you jumping for joy? Pressing your nose into the pages and inhaling the smell of scholarship?

    1) British understatement.
    2) Have a look at the left sidebar — it’s not his first book…

  60. #60 BtH
    October 13, 2009

    Darren – the black triceratops cover – is that a dustjacket, or are there two covers for the book?

    Inquiring minds wanna know.

  61. #61 Darren Naish
    October 14, 2009

    Hi: the US and UK editions both have totally different covers. I presume they’re different with respect to spellings and such as well (but don’t know, as I haven’t seen a US version yet).

  62. #62 davidmaas
    October 15, 2009

    Mine finally arrived… its a very fine edition! Congrats! I’ve only read one chapter, but can already say that its engaging. Its also interesting to ‘hear’ out the difference in tone from your blog voice.

  63. #63 Adrian Morgan
    November 30, 2009

    I ordered a copy last week and it arrived yesterday. Some great feathered dinosaur pictures among other delights, but I haven’t had time to consume it yet.

    As Darren indicates, there are errors, and the book could have used a little more proofreading. Apart from the Palaeozoic mess-up, though, all the errors I’ve noticed so far are grammatical. For example, a sentence on page eighteen reads, “In 1825 he named Iguanodon for these remains“, which does not mean what it’s supposed to mean. I would hypothesise that this originally read “he chose the name Iguanodon for these remains“, but that “chose the name” was replaced with “named” in a hurried (and incautious) attempt to reduce the length of the text. Some other passages give me a similar impression.

  64. #64 Crazyharp81602
    January 2, 2010

    I got your book for Christmas and read it. It is indeed an awesome book!

  65. #65 Albertonykus
    May 16, 2010

    I finally got this book. Certainly a delight to read and a unique approach to dinosaurs.

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