Gr. 4-6. Deinotherium, Gomphotherium, Arsinoitherium. Budding palaeontologists who take joy in tackling such scientific tongue twisters will glue themselves to the polysyllabic commentary accompanying this extensive gallery of extinct mammals. Working carefully from the latest fossil evidence, veteran science illustrator Anton has created finely detailed portraits of more than 100 vanished creatures, from early whales and tiny proto-shrews to Neanderthals. Most of these he poses sedately against simplified natural settings, sometimes adding images of fossil skulls or other remnants for comparison. Along with the picture of the animal comes a distribution map, a time line, a human silhouette or other indicator to establish scale, and a fact box. As there is some repetition in the text, and, after several introductory spreads, the 20 animal groupings are not arranged in discernible order, this survey is better designed for browsing than systematic reading, quick reference, or efficient research. However, as an informative, eye-catching link between resources on modern animals and the ever-popular dinosaurs, it's sure to be a draw. John Peters
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Alan Turner (1947-2012) was one of the world's foremost paleontologists and a professor in the School of Biological and Earth Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University. Specializing in Miocene-Pleistocene carnivores, he was a prolific writer who authored National Geographic's Prehistoric Mammals among many other books and academic papers.
Gr 5-10-Except for stars such as saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, prehistoric mammals get short shrift when compared to dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and toothy marine reptiles. Therefore it is refreshing to see a colorful compendium of these neglected beasts, ranging in size from the rather insignificant representatives from the Age of Dinosaurs to the ponderous Indricotherium of the Asian Oligocene. Dramatic full-color pictures (many encompassing entire spreads) and captions enhance the brief, informative text. Divided by orders and species, each two- to four-page section contains a time line, fact file, global distribution map (where possible), representative beasts, and those nifty illustrations. A ghostly shadow of a six-foot modern human is offered for scale purposes (for a small creature like Eomaia, for example, only the foot is shown). Primates are included, among them Australapithecenes, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens. For lovers of the BBC production Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, it's a treasure trove. For students, it's an important source of information.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.