Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled
Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled
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Catherine Thimmesh
ISBN 9780547991344
Houghton Mifflin, 2013.
5 stars
Keywords: catherine-thimmesh dinosaurs geology john-ostrom paleoartists paleobotany paleontology scaly-spotted-feathered-frilled science

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled
by Catherine Thimmesh

Sibert-winning author Catherine Thimmesh (Team Moon) takes a brilliant and fresh approach to dinosaurs--through the viewpoints of the paleoartists who paint their portraits.

"Recreating dinosaurs is like putting together a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle--with plenty of pieces missing," the author writes. When a dinosaur bone is discovered, paleontologists, geologists and paleobotanists working together ask themselves a series of questions: What kind of dinosaur is it? How old are the fossils? What did the dinosaur eat? Thimmesh explains, "Finally, the paleoartists (who are often scientists as well) attempt to create an image." One spread pairs a 1901 painting of Triceratops by Charles R. Knight, with another by Mark Hallett painted nearly 100 years later. Thimmesh ticks off four major differences in scientists' understanding of dinosaurs in the intervening century. John Sibbick's color series of Parasaurolophus demonstrates the challenge of determining a dinosaur's outer markings ("Color is a real problem," Sibbick said).

Thimmesh's unusual approach allows her to discuss the history of dinosaur research. For instance, after a "virtual standstill" during the Great Depression and World War II, "dinosaur science came roaring back," mostly thanks to John Ostrom's 1964 discovery of Deinonychus--which supported the theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Stephen Czerkas describes the move from scales to feathers on the model he created with Sylvia Czerkas for Deinonychus saying, "You have to change what you think in the face of new scientific evidence." This book will be a hit among dinosaur lovers and budding scientists alike.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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