Speculative paleozoology done by professionals (Book Review)

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all yesterdaysLast night, I simply could not read any technical stuff before bed so I browsed my Kindle looking for some entertaining reading. The thing is, I don’t really do much fiction, almost everything I have is nonfiction. Then I came across “All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals” by Darren Naish, C.M. Kosemen, John Conway, and Scott Hartman. This was it, the perfect hour’s entertainment before bed perusing fascinating artwork and professional commentary regarding speculative reconstruction of prehistoric (and modern) animals. It was a lovely blend of nonfiction with a good dollop of fiction and I very much enjoyed it.

This book shows what might possibly (very likely) is off (completely wrong) about artistic reconstructions of dinosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs. Fun stuff. You will learn that animals are reconstructed “shrink-wrapped” and naked. It’s sort of because that’s all the evidence we have and must guess at the soft tissue adornments and coloration. But what if we got a bit creative. That’s what this book does. Fun stuff. Sometimes silly, but thought provoking. What if these animals behaved in a completely different way than we expect? Well why not draw that?

The last section is enlightening as real animals are portrayed in a way that mimics how we would interpret prehistoric animals – shrink-wrapped, with no fat or characteristic soft parts (like pointy cartilage ears), no fur, and out of context.

This book is lovely for fossil fans from teens up to adults. Also checkout All Your Yesterdays, the free sequel (although you should donate) available through Irregular Books. This highlights contributed speculative zoological art. Amazing stuff. Watch how portrayals of these animals change over time. We’ll look back and laugh. But we will never quite know for sure.

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Check out John Conway and Darren Naish who geek out over at the Tetrapod Zoology podcast about the scientific inaccuracy of popular movies, Godzilla and other kaiju, Bigfoot, cryptozoology and much more on their podcast Tetrapod Zoology and Darren’s blog of the same name at Scientific American. (Ironically, he is British.)

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