Dinosaurs Alive!: The Dinosaur-Bird Connection

Dinosaurs Alive!: The Dinosaur-Bird Connection

by Shealy
     
 

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Are birds the descendants of dinosaurs? Many scientists believe dinosaurs are still alive among us--in the shape of our fine feathered friends! Now young dinosaur enthusiasts can read for themselves about this exciting theory in dinosaur science, including the importance of the newly discovered feathered dinosaurs. Created with the advice and approval of a noted…  See more details below

Overview

Are birds the descendants of dinosaurs? Many scientists believe dinosaurs are still alive among us--in the shape of our fine feathered friends! Now young dinosaur enthusiasts can read for themselves about this exciting theory in dinosaur science, including the importance of the newly discovered feathered dinosaurs. Created with the advice and approval of a noted paleontologist, this easy-to-read Step 4 title is fully illustrated and great for classroom use.

Editorial Reviews

Publisher

Dinosaurs Alive! not only describes the connection between birds and dinosaurs, but also uses the topic of dinosaurs to teach children about evolution and the nature of science. The book gives interesting factual information about certain dinosaur traits, discusses the changes that occurred in these traits over time and how the traits favored survival, and demonstrates the link with modern-day birds. Its description of the mechanisms of evolution is clear and readable.

I particularly like the book's description of the process of discovery. The author explains the work of biologists, geologists, and paleontologists, showing that our understanding advanced only when scientists from these three disciplines began sharing their knowledge. For example, scientists realized that dinosaurs were the ancestors of modern birds when they integrated the biological, geological, and paleontological evidence. Throughout the book the author emphasizes survival and the concept of natural selection. He links the traits of speed, strength, and the ability to hide with the ability to survive. He also discusses climatic and environmental factors, showing how certain dinosaur traits allowed some species to survive longer than others. The book gives information in straightforward terms and includes illustrations that clarify the concepts (for example, drawings of feathered dinosaurs, as well as the similarities between specific dinosaur and bird skeletons and bird and dinosaur anatomy).

The book highlights scientists such as Linnaeus and Hennig-who developed our scientific classification system-and four others who were key figures in discovering the link between dinosaurs and birds. Although directed to grades 2-4, much of the content is above the conceptual level of most second and third graders. They'll be able to understand the basic facts, but some of the terminology will be difficult. Because this age group is fascinated with dinosaurs, however, they will be drawn to the book's pictures and simple but engaging style. Dinosaurs Alive will be most valuable for grades 4-6 as an easy, captivating complement to a textbook unit on evolution and the process of discovery. I strongly recommend it.

Susan Allen

Dinosaurs Alive! not only describes the connection between birds and dinosaurs, but also uses the topic of dinosaurs to teach children about evolution and the nature of science. The book gives interesting factual information about certain dinosaur traits, discusses the changes that occurred in these traits over time and how the traits favored survival, and demonstrates the link with modern-day birds. Its description of the mechanisms of evolution is clear and readable.

I particularly like the book's description of the process of discovery. The author explains the work of biologists, geologists, and paleontologists, showing that our understanding advanced only when scientists from these three disciplines began sharing their knowledge. For example, scientists realized that dinosaurs were the ancestors of modern birds when they integrated the biological, geological, and paleontological evidence. Throughout the book the author emphasizes survival and the concept of natural selection. He links the traits of speed, strength, and the ability to hide with the ability to survive. He also discusses climatic and environmental factors, showing how certain dinosaur traits allowed some species to survive longer than others. The book gives information in straightforward terms and includes illustrations that clarify the concepts (for example, drawings of feathered dinosaurs, as well as the similarities between specific dinosaur and bird skeletons and bird and dinosaur anatomy).

The book highlights scientists such as Linnaeus and Hennig-who developed our scientific classification system-and four others who were key figures in discovering the link between dinosaurs and birds. Although directed to grades 2-4, much of the content is above the conceptual level of most second and third graders. They'll be able to understand the basic facts, but some of the terminology will be difficult. Because this age group is fascinated with dinosaurs, however, they will be drawn to the book's pictures and simple but engaging style. Dinosaurs Alive will be most valuable for grades 4-6 as an easy, captivating complement to a textbook unit on evolution and the process of discovery. I strongly recommend it.
National Science Teachers Association

R. J. Jacobson
This subject (although still controversial amongst some scientists) is a personal favorite of mine. I am glad to see a book on this topic come out for children in grades 2-4. I get a lot of questions on my website about the demise of dinosaurs and I love to stir up children's thinking about the topic by qualifying my answer with a statement that they did not all go extinct - but evolved. This book does an excellent job of getting into the subject about what we know on the evolution of dinosaurs from birds. It includes all the latest discoveries of feathered dinosaurs from China and brings the reader up-to-date on what is known and what is not.

Like my own responses the book starts the reader out by telling them "Take a walk outside and chances are that you will see a dinosaur. Yes a living dinosaur. They are everywhere--in the sky, in trees, even sitting on telephone wires. If you are lucky you may even get one to eat out of your hand." This sets the stage for the first book I have seen that really leads these young readers into the science of dinosaurs and how over the years scientists have come to realize the validity of the dinosaur-bird connection.

The reader is given a good but basic understanding of evolution that the young reader needs to grasp to understand some of what dinosaur scientists now believe concerning this exciting (and yes still controversial) subject. Next the reader is led into the history of scientific thought and discoveries concerning the relationship of birds and dinosaurs starting with the first discoveries of the feathered dinosaur Archaeopteryx and how Charles Darwin's supporter Thomas Huxley saw the connection just before its discovery. And this history talks how Huxley's ideas (even in spite of the discovery of Archaeopteryx) were not quickly adopted by scientists, giving the reader some idea of how the scientific process is not always easy, nor are new ideas readily accepted, such is the nature of science. Something that all students need to understand!

Quickly, this discussion is followed by the discoveries in the 1960's by Dr. John Ostrom that the old Linnaean classification did not deal with the fact that a well known dinosaur Deinonychus and modern birds shared many features in their bones (22 traits or characters). The reader then finds that this was the breakthrough in thinking that led many other dinosaur scientists to accept the dinosaur-bird connection. But the story goes on, and the student is introduced to the concept of cladistics, the new method of classifying animals based on the traits they have in common. Armed with this new method of classification the reader is told how a scientist in the 1980's (Jacques Gauthier) used the method to show birds were not merely cousins of dinosaurs but that cladistically they were dinosaurs that had never become extinct.

At this point the reader is given an easy to understand discussion of these traits that Dr. Gauthier used to justify this conclusion using cladistics. I believe the author does a good job of presenting the concept at a level that most young readers will be able grasp. The book concludes with a simple but good discussion of the path that evolution may have taken to lead to our modern birds, incorporating the latest finds of additional feathered dinosaurs from china. It includes a basic description of how flight may have developed given the types of arms and possible modes of life of these small but active theropod ancestors of modern birds.

All in all I highly recommend the book to parents and teachers wanting to introduce the concepts of evolution, the relationship of birds to dinosaurs and something of how the scientific method words in this particular subject. The author does an excellent job of bringing this subject down to a level that can be quickly understood by the intended audience.
Dino Russ's Lair

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375812965
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
11/27/2001
Series:
Step into Reading Series
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
6.02(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.17(d)
Lexile:
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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