Remind me again, why are dinosaurs awesome?
June 3, 2013 12:27 PM   Subscribe

When I was a kid, I was totally enamored of dinosaurs. I seem to have lost my affinity for them in the years since. I quit paying attention to developments in paleontology. Apparently there's been a lot that I missed, like that the dominant theory now is that modern birds are descended from a dinosaur species (I think?). And I hear velociraptors had feathers. So I need not just updates, but a good primer for adults because I've forgotten everything I used to know about them. Can anyone recommend some good modern books or documentaries on dinosaurs to rekindle the flame of dino-love?
posted by Sleeper to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I have just picked up My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, which I haven't yet begun but looks promising!
posted by ChuraChura at 12:30 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

like that the dominant theory now is that modern birds are descended from a dinosaur species (I think?).

More precisely, birds are dinosaurs as classified by most paleontologists. That in itself is a pretty cool fact. For example, take a look at the vestigial claw on chicken or turkey wings.

This book
would be worth a look on that score, although given its cost, you may wish to borrow it from the local library. Ditto for this more general text.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:49 PM on June 3, 2013

I went to the Museum of Natural History in NYC last year and was reminded just how awesome dinosaurs were by their spectacular exhibit. If you live in or near a city that has something similar, I strongly recommend it - one of the coolest things about them is their sheer size, and seeing their bones in person made me feel like a five-year-old again.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:54 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is just Discovery News - but if you search dinosaur they have lots of the newest info regarding them:
Discovery News
posted by lasamana at 1:20 PM on June 3, 2013

You might also be interested in the sites suggested in this AskMefi. The BBC has a nice little primer on dinosaur-based news and features. The Natural History Museum in London has a really awesome online directory of dinosaurs and even more in the rest of the Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Creatures section.

I really liked Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliff as a look at how dinosaur excavations actually work and operate, though it's more on the human side than the dino side at times. There have been a number of TV documentaries and shows on the Gobi Desert fossils as well.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:24 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

My son and I love the NOVA specials and the BBC documentaries. I'm also a big fan of Prehistoric Park, the whole premise is obviously fiction, but it does have actual facts and is really cool.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:27 PM on June 3, 2013

Best answer: If you really want to just fall in love with how awesome dinosaurs are, you should watch the BBC's series, Walking with Dinosaurs. The companion series, Walking with Prehistoric Monsters, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts and Walking with Cavemen were also a blast. They chronicle life prior to dinosaurs, life after what we think of as dinosaurs (by which I mean after the events of ~65 million years ago that wiped out most of the traditional, non-bird dinosaurs), and, the evolution of humans.

Bonus: They're all available on streaming netflix!
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 3:13 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My son is 6, and deeply into dinosaurs at the moment (as in, we emailed a paleontologist at the AMNH and then met him in NY to talk about the differences between various types of hadrosaurids). We actually spend a lot of time at the Wikipedia Dinosaur Portal for a starter. It's very comprehensive and seems up to date.

He does very much enjoy the aforementioned Walking with... series (as well as their companion books, which are excellent, and talk about where the TV series is guessing and where they're basing it on actual finds (vs. theory).

He also really, really loves the series Planet Dinosaur (another BBC production). One part of it's appeal is that it ties directly back to the actual fossils (and shows them) so you can see for yourself why they think this or that.

Also, if you're looking more for a high level overview of what's (fairly) current, I highly recommend the Ultimate Dinopedia. It's a kids book, but super informative and continues to be our jumping off point for digging deeper into particular genus or other area. (My son is currently engaged in sorting the big list of dinos in the back by era and area, so he can see (for example) which dinos we know about were found in what is now China in the Cretaceous era, so he can think more about them in terms of what coexisted with what).
posted by anastasiav at 4:10 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I can't help with the primer, but here's a little tidbit that may address the diminishing childhood fascination part.

Dave Barry suggests (sorry, no citation) that to little kids, dinosaurs are so awesome because they are immensely powerful, much more powerful than, for instance, Mommy and Daddy.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:34 PM on June 3, 2013

Best answer: I highly recommend My Beloved Brontosaurus (not finished it quite yet, but saw the author, Brian Switek, speak about it and have talked with him in real life) or at least the author's blog (which runs back years and has a lot of updates on dinos). If he can't make you like dinosaurs again, no one can. The premise of the book is basically why does everything we know about dinosaurs keep changing, including even names? He's extremely enthusiastic about it and currently on a dig in Utah. You can also follow him on twitter.
posted by R343L at 8:05 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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