Natural History Museum: £5:95
From 18 July 2002 – 5 May 2003, the Natural History Museum, in London, in collaboration with The Geological Museum of China, presented an exhibition called "Dino-Birds: The Feathered Dinosaurs of China". This showcased 13 fossils, the first discovered there as recently as 1996, which give evidence that our feathered friends are descend from T. Rex's chums.
This slim (140×150mm), hard-backed volume is intended as companion to, or perhaps a souvenir of, that exhibition, but reads well in its own right — your reviewer did not have the good fortune to see the exhibition, but enjoyed the book nonetheless.
Some interesting trivia emerges — many dinosaurs nested and incubated their eggs in a bird-like manner and, unlike the impression given by a thousand movies, the smallest dinosaur had a body just 47mm (1.9 inches) long.
The book's 64 pages are well and abundantly illustrated, with some photographs of fossils accompanied by matching line drawings, to highlight the salient features. One fossil even includes a pair of fossilised mammal jaws; signs of a last meal, lodged undigested where the stomach once was. Lively "artists' impressions" bring the fossils to life, such as that showing an Archaeopteryx (the name means “ancient wing”) mirrored by a modern- day Magpie, its equal in size, showing that each has the same number and arrangement of primary and secondary feathers. Early birds, from the Cretaceous period, are also discussed, and similarly illustrated.
The text is readable, and fascinating, but amounts in total to little more than a decent magazine article's worth. Its tone is more “Birdwatching magazine” than “British Birds”, but that's no bad thing in a volume intended to convey fairly complex theories to members of the general public — something which it does well. A bibliography or further references would have been appreciated, though.
Dr. Angela Milner is Deputy Keeper of the Department of Palaeontology, Head of the Fossil Vertebrates Division and a dinosaur researcher at The Natural History Museum .
They also have a page about Dino-birds, the book .
Please remember that opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and not necessarily the West Midland Bird Club.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Thursday 23 May 2013 18:43:02
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