Dinosaurs Life Size, the book


I just received my copies of Dinosaurs Life Size, a children's book published by Barron's Educational in the USA and by New Burlington Books in the UK (Naish 2010). You can get it from amazon here (here from amazon.co.uk). You might wonder why I'm advertising a children's book when I could be publishing articles on gekkotans, amebelodontid proboscideans or solitaire hands (all of which are due to appear here very soon). Well, hey, it's my blog right?

Dinosaurs Life Size is large-format and includes spreads on a diversity of dinosaurs as well as pterosaurs and Mesozoic marine reptiles. Some of the spreads fold out as large gatefolds. CG models feature throughout: they were created by Raul Lunia and are pretty impressive [the Deinonychus spread is shown below; using kids for scale was a great touch]. And I'll happily admit that the use of a giant reptilian eye on the cover is clichéd and all too familiar*: thanks to David Krentz for bringing this to my attention.


* Ten Tet Zoo dollars to anyone who can say what the eye is really from. Dead easy.

Raul is good at putting rows of dorsal spines and filaments on dinosaurs, and even his small ornithischians (Lesothosaurus is included) seem to have a fuzzy integument (as well they might, given the data on Tianyulong and Psittacosaurus). Having mentioned ornithischians and integument... does anyone yet know anything definitive about the Black Hills Triceratops specimen rumoured to preserve evidence for integumentary spines (or filaments)? It was previously mentioned in the comments appended to the Udanoceratops article... some online reconstructions that incorporated the spines/filaments have been removed since I looked at them last, but there's still this. Anyway...


Getting the creatures life-sized means that we sometimes only feature a bit of the head, a hand, foot, or horn or whatever. For Sauroposeidon, we have nothing but an eye [shown here]. While, naturally, the familiar creatures are included (Diplodocus, Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and so on), I tried as usual to include stuff that doesn't get discussed in prehistoric animal books that often: the possibility of inflatable nasal sacs in big horned dinosaurs, the deinonychosaur-like demeanour of Archaeopteryx, feather distribution in maniraptorans.... and the terrestrial stalking lifestyle of Quetzalcoatlus.

There are a few things that you might consider errors: the skeleton that masquerades as Plesiosaurus isn't Plesiosaurus at all (but 'Plesiosaurus' macrocephalus, a non-plesiosaurid* that needs a new generic name), and what we call Cetiosaurus isn't modelled on C. oxoniensis (the only animal that should really be associated with this name: Upchurch et al. (2009)) but on something else. And a few deliberate errors are included for eagle-eyed readers to find (actually, I'm not gonna take responsibility for those). But, yeah, did I mention it's a kid's book :) [Raul's Liopleurodon shown below].


* Yes, I said plesiosaurid. Ketchum & Benson (2010) recovered a Plesiosauridae that comprises Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, Hydrorion brachypterygius, Microcleidus homalospondylus, Occitanosaurus tournemirensis and Seeleyosaurus guilelmiimperatoris.

Anyway, it's a nice little book and I hope people like it. It's the first of three or four books I have coming out this year (some of which are co-authored with many others).

Dinosaurs Life Size is available here from amazon, and here from amazon.co.uk.

Refs - -

Ketchum, H. F. & Benson, R. B. J. 2010. Global interrelationships of Plesiosauria (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) and the pivotal role of taxon sampling in determining the outcome of phylogenetic analyses. Biological Reviews 85, 361-392.

Naish, D. 2010. Dinosaurs Life Size. Barron's Educational Series, New York.

Upchurch, P., Martin, J. & Taylor, M. P. 2009. Case 372: Cetiosaurus Owen, 1841 (Dinosauria, Sauropoda): proposed conservation of usage by designation of Cetiosaurus oxoniensis Phillips, 1871 as the type species. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 66, 51-55.


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My guess is that the eye belongs to a green iguana. If not that, it should at least belong to an iguanian of some sort (definitely not a chameleon though).

Very cool. Definitely a book I'd like to have for the younger generation.

As per the Black Hills Triceratops, I am also eagerly awaiting something to be published. Do a Google Search for "Aaron Doyle Triceratops" to see a beautiful quilled reconstruction.

And I'll take a chance at getting those "Tet Zoo Dollars". I believe it is the eye of Physignathus cocincinus, the "Asian water dragon", although I'm not at all confident enough with my herp-skills to say that definitively.

What age would you say this is appropriate for? My son (who is two) loves dinosaurs! Is this scary at all?

Might not be an immediate purchase, but I'll definately check it out in the store. My vote for what the eye is? A water dragon (basilisk...Jesus lizard...whatever).

By Zach Miller (not verified) on 16 Jul 2010 #permalink

As the author of The Lost Ark, I love your new book's cover! :-)
Great minds, etc. But seriously, all the best with it, I'm sure that it will be a great success, Karl

Ha - I totally forgot about The Lost Ark, first edition. Well, as some have said, hardly original...

You might wonder why I'm advertising a children's book when I could be publishing articles on gekkotans, amebelodontid proboscideans or solitaire hands (all of which are due to appear here very soon).

Because you're lazy?

(I kid, I kid!)

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 16 Jul 2010 #permalink

Congratulations! Now a generation will remember this terrible mr Naish from that scary book which gave nightmares for all children about Deinonychus! ;) Vide xkcd: http://xkcd.com/87/

One thing which always confuses me in popular stories is not knowing what bits are hard, based on cutting edge discoveries and what is more the less fancy of imagination. So I tend to pass everything as licentia artistica.

BTW - to be different - Phelsuma madagascarensis?

Apparently not so easy after all, Mr. Naish. Do tell us when someone earns that ten-spot.

By CS Shelton (not verified) on 16 Jul 2010 #permalink

I'm going to second (or third) Physignathus cocincinus.

Is the eye from Brachylophus vitiensis?

RE: the Black Hills Triceratops integument: from what I saw at SVP a few years ago, the only evidence for projections from the body was that some of the central scute bumps were not rounded domes but looked like they might have been the broken bottoms of shafts. Not terribly compelling by themselves. However, knowing that at least one other ceratopsian species had projections, it makes it at least worth a little consideration.

Thanks for all for comments, congratulations etc. On the owner of the eye... I thought it was Calotes calotes, the Asian agamid often stupidly known as the Bloodsucker (aka Common green forest lizard). I'm not totally sure... or, I'm less sure that I was, anyway.

Maybe it is because my fondest/earliest memory of dinosaurs is watching the movie Jurrasic Park as a kid, but I can't help but to feel incredibly disturbed about that image of the little girl and the Deinonychus.

By Joakim Lindman (not verified) on 19 Jul 2010 #permalink

Very Interesting Book...As a movie lover, I enjoyed watching Dinosaurs movies...Actually I have already purchased this book from Amazon. I recommend it also with my friends. It also catch the attention of my children. I love your post Darren..Thanks allot...

A great book for kids, this is actually one of the most educational books for my kids. They love reading dino stories, and pretty sure they will like this too.

Dinosaur Wall Stickers, does it actually say "massive _life size_ wall stickers" on your homepage?
Since I have no clue what the liv size for wall stickers is, I am tempted to conclude you mean life size dinosaurs -- but then who has walls that size? ;p

Green Gekko

By rijkswaanvijand (not verified) on 07 Oct 2010 #permalink


By rijkswaanvijand (not verified) on 07 Oct 2010 #permalink