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The Dinosaur Atlas    by Don Lessem order for
Dinosaur Atlas
by Don Lessem
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a beautifully illustrated guide to the amazing world of dinosaurs who 'ruled the Earth for 150 million years', a hundred times longer than humans have been around! It's written by Dino Don Lessem, advisor to the creators of Jurassic Park (he tells us, by the way, that though Dilophosaurus was mean, it didn't really spit poison). Dino Don introduces us to over fifty types across the three main periods of the Age of Dinosaurs - the Late Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous - and puts it all in context with the development of life on Earth and the separation into continents that went on over time. Towards the end, he goes over various extinction theories, including my favorite, death by constipation.

While informative, the tone is light, with funny Dino Don sidebars. I especially liked the first one, 'Dinosaurs Up Your Nose', which places a brief (only 150 million years) dinosaur lifespan on an Earth timeline that begins at the bottom of Don's shoes. This places the dino age up Don's nose, which is one way of putting it all in perspective. Details on each dinosaur include images that place the beast's silhouette beside those of a boy and girl, size, meaning of the name, and location found. Speaking of which, did you know that dino remains were found in Transylvania and at the South Pole, and by some very colorful characters, including the Mad Baron?

I had heard that recent theories say that some dinos had feathers but didn't realize that these were the meat eaters rather than the vegetarians. Also interesting to note that they ran on their toes and that they have some very strange names like Smilodon and Leaellynasaura. Did you know what distinguishes dinos from reptiles? They star in more movies, says Dino Don. I knew that! Want to know more (seriously)? The back of the book recommends books, videos and websites, dig sites and museums all over the world. For anyone interested in the Earth's dinosaur past, The Dinosaur Atlas is an excellent resource that places the beasties in context.

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