Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond-Bare Fossils

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Recent discoveries of mummified, fossilized soft tissue have given scientists important new information about dinosaurs. The author begins by explaining the process of fossilization, noting the wide difference between the mineralized mummies that paleontologists study and intentionally preserved specimens like Egyptian mummies. Then she gives the background, details, and implications of six key discoveries, starting with the Sternberg Edmontosaurus in the early 1900s. The other examples all date from the past 10 years, culminating with the 2000 discovery of Leonardo, the most complete mummified dinosaur found so far. A bit of information about each scientist is provided, along with comments from most of them about their work, so readers get a feel for the dedication and enthusiasm of these groundbreaking paleontologists. These discoveries are not only rare; they also have significant impact on our understanding of dinosaurs. The fossilized Sinosauropteryx, for example, helped confirm the existence of feathered dinosaurs, while a 66-million-year-old preserved heart supports theories of warm-blooded dinosaurs. Each discovery is introduced in a clear and lively style, so youngsters can follow the text without becoming overwhelmed by names, dates, or scientific terms. The layout is inviting, with good use of white space and many full-color photographs and drawings showing dinosaurs, fossils, and the scientists themselves. A brief "paleo-notebook" offers details on 10 other key dinosaur mummies. The current data and intriguing focus should make this a popular and valuable addition to dinosaur shelves.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite some minor bobbles, young dinosaur fans will latch onto this heavily illustrated report like starving velociraptors at a picnic. The indefatigably enthusiastic Halls writes with two purposes in mind: to recount the discoveries and natures of dinosaur fossils that include not just bones, but remnants of "skin, hearts, muscles and goop-filled stomachs"-not to mention feathers and a variety of less durable tissues; and to introduce many of the paleontologists who have made, or are making, those discoveries. She highlights six finds in particular, but mentions many more, nearly all of which get at least one photo, and closes with enough references to relevant books, videos, DVDs, Web sites, and public "digs" to satisfy the most demanding dinophile. Spears supplements the photos with cartoon scenes of reconstructed specimens, and Carpenter contributes an essay on the importance of the just-discovered duckbill dubbed "Leonardo." Though two photos are repeated and the portrait gallery of scientists is capped with a profile of eminent specialist Dr. Karen Chin, in which she's labeled "a girl who loves digging up dinosaur doo doo," this is definitely a must, as useful as it is entertaining. (Nonfiction. 10-13)
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond-Bare Fossils

    It is unfortunate that some people intentionally misrepresent the facts. It's unkindness I've never understood. But that is precisely what the person who posted the 'muddled' review has done. She's not only malicious, she's almost completely wrong. First of all, she says it should have been a picture book. It IS a picture book written by a journalist not a scientist -- for young readers. I did not say tectonic plates helped 'make' fossils, I said they helped bring them to the surface of the earth where erosion reveals them to fossil hunters. Atlanta's Fernbank Science Center exhibit designer and illustrator Rick Spears created lovely dinosaur drawings based on solid science and the audience for which the book was written. Kids LOVE them, and so do I -- even if she doesn't. I said Dr. Bakker helped create the Tate Museum in Wyoming. He did. There is a tyrannosaur 'mummy' on the cover because one prominent paleontologist reported in several publications that he hoped he'd found a mummified tyrannosaur. It's reported as a 'hopeful' find in the book -- not as fact. Kids will only be misled when they read her review. The scientists I interviewed DO believe Leonardo is the find of a lifetime. She says the book is obsessed with 'poop.' I have one sidebar on coprolites because fossilized dinosaur dung is interesting. My editor was a science editor for many years prior to overseeing DINOSAUR MUMMIES. Very few National Geographic stock photos are featured, but I'm proud to think those few are part of the book. I don't think it gets any better than National Geographic. The balance of the photos are from the scientists I interviewed, museums and newspapers. This woman didn't like my book's introduction. Fine. If she ever writes a book of her own, she can write the introduction her way. She doesn't like the books I recommended. See the advice I offered about the introduction. I could go on and on, but I won't. I'll close by saying my book is not a science journal. It's a book for kids, meant to excite them and get them asking questions. I hope they fall in love with dinosaurs after they read what the experts have told me in this book. Kirkus, Booklist (starred review), the National Science Teachers Association, Dr. Peter Dodson, Dr. James Farlow, the Peabody Museum, and many, many sources willing to go public, rather than hiding behind the word 'anoynmous' say I did a good, solid job. Is it perfect? Probably not. What books are? And this person is free to spit poison like the fictional dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the movie. As for me, I'll keep trying to write books for kids because I respect and appreciate kids. My work may not always be perfect (no matter how hard I work to translate tough concepts for young minds). But it WILL always be honest and well intentioned. That's more than I can say for this 'review.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2003

    Muddled sediments

    Internet website information filtered through a nonscientist emerges as misinterpretations on fossilization and dinosaurs. It would have made a better picture book. The book misleads the reader with the painting on the cover. There is NO TYRANNOSAURUS REX preserved this way. Children will think that there is a complete Tyrannosaurus rex which died and dried out a tiny bit. The author's childhood experiences begin the book, which should have been deleted. Did a science editor work on the book? Tectonic plates have nothing to do with fossilization. The plate tectonics theory explains why the Earth's continents are drifting apart, not why plants and animals may become fossilized and then exposed through erosion. 'The fossils lay buried for what scientists believe to be millions of years.' Believe? There were only 'thousands of hadrosaurs' during a multimillion year time frame? ¿Hadrosaurs lived in healthy groups for thousands of years.' Is there confusion between thousands and millions? Inaccurate and sloppy writing¿the book should have shown pictures and then the websites where the information originated. Illustrations by Rick Spears look like coloring book pages. Children would learn more by studying paintings by paleoartists Michael Skrepnick or Mark Hallett to see what dinosaurs probably looked like. Some of the mistakes in the book: Robert Bakker is not affiliated with the Tate Museum, and Edmonton is not a region in Canada but a city. The museum in North Carolina is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, not North Carolina Museum of Natural History or North Carolina Museum of Sciences. The text uses all three versions. Filaments are not the 'hard center cores of feathers. Dr. Schweitzer's name is misspelled twice. Santanaraptor is dog-sized only if your dog is 6 feet long or tall. A poor understanding and explanation of the structure of feathers is again shown in the section on Sinornithosaurus. Dr. Paul Sereno is with the University of Chicago, not the Field Museum. The article on him is very, very similar to the 7-21-01 on-line Beloit Daily News story, which is not credited. The discovery was not in Wyoming but South Dakota. 'It's' is used incorrectly in the article about Dr. Karen Chin, and she is referred to as a 'girl.' 'Herivores' is a misspelling. Lynette Gillette is called a 'he.' Crocodiles do not lay their eggs and then 'leave the would-be hatchlings to fend for themselves.' The name of one of the authors of 'Dinosaurs: Biggest...' is misspelled, as is Dr. Currie's in 'Feathered Dinosaurs.' The 'JPI Dinosaur Field Guide' recommendation incompletely states '...make this a fun, unique field guide for dinosaur.' Punctuation problems, as in 'Andrews's.' What does '...thanks in to Brian Selznick's ...' mean? 'North Caroline' is a state? Recommended instead is the forthcoming 'Discovering Dinosaurs With a Fossil Hunter (I Like Science)' by Judith Williams, any of the books by Dr. Thomas Holtz, and Luis Rey's 'A Field Guide to Dinosaurs,' all of which are scientifically accurate and beautifully illustrated. Dinosaur Mummies, once unwrapped, is a fake.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2003

    Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond-Bare Fossils

    As the author of this book, just a couple of things. First, it's a fantastic dinosaur book for kids 9 to 12 about dinosaur soft tissue -- skin, muscle, frills, organs -- fossilized and preserved along with our old favorites, dinosaur bones. But it's called DINOSAUR MUMMIES: BEYOND BARE-BONE FOSSILS, not DINOSAUR MUMMIES: BEYOND-BARE FOSSILS. And it was illustrated by Rick C. Spears, not Ricky Spears. And it will be released in August of 2003, not September. Other than that, you got a pretty good picture of what's to come. And it's a Junior Library Guild selection for 2003. I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it.

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