Dinosaurs of the British Isles Reviewed
Every once in a while a book comes along that manages to span that bridge between professional academics and the general reader. A book that provides insight and scientific accuracy whilst at the same time intriguing and entertaining the lay person.
Such a book is the excellent “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” written by palaeontologist Dean Lomax in collaboration with talented palaeoartist Nobumichi Tamura. The first academic, published description of the fossils of a dinosaur date all the way back to 1824 (Megalosaurus bucklandii). This new publication sets out to collate information on the Dinosauria and then catalogues the one hundred species or so known from the geology of the British Isles. The Reverend William Buckland, (the person responsible for that 1824 paper), would no doubt be impressed by the depth of information the authors have provided.
Skeletal reconstructions of dinosaurs are provided, along with information on the size of the animal and where the various fossils have been found. Nobu Tamura brings these long extinct prehistoric animals to life with a number of beautifully illustrated computer renderings and drawings, all based on a thorough understanding of the anatomy of dinosaurs. There are hundreds of wonderful, detailed photographs of fossil finds, including some very evocative pictures of trace fossils, dinosaur footprints, for example.
Gaining Access to Rare Palaeontological Specimens
Many of the individual fossils that have been photographed for this book are not usually available for the public to view. A number of important finds are in private collections, or in storage and not part of any permanent museum display. This book grants the reader rare access to these hidden treasures and clearly labelled captions give further information on these specimens.
Foreword by Dr. Paul Barrett
Dr. Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum – London) provides a foreword and the authors set the scene with a well-written, comprehensive introduction. Before the reader is granted access to the actual catalogue of the Dinosauria, a background to this publication has been thoughtfully added, outlining the historical importance of the British Isles to the science of palaeontology. Questions such as “what is a dinosaur” and “what are fossils and how do they form” are posed and answered using clear, non-scientific terminology to help the general reader. Once the scope of the book has been outlined, a journey through the geological history of the British Isles can be taken, starting with dinosaurs from the Late Triassic.
A Journey through the UK’s Geology
Dinosaur fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous are set out in chronological order (oldest material first). If you thought tyrannosaurids were just part of the prehistoric fauna of North America (T. rex springs to mind), you are in for a surprise. This book skilfully explains the fossil evidence that supports the potential presence of at least three tyrannosaurids having once roamed around the British Isles. The publication concludes with a helpful glossary, a guide to dinosaur fossil “hot spots” and a really useful outline of the fossil collecting code.
This is a unique book, comprehensively cataloguing the dinosaur fauna of the British Isles. It will no doubt appeal to a very wide audience from the lay person with an interest in history to the professional academic. Available through Siri Scientific Press this is a highly recommended dinosaur book.