Please note: not to be confused with the large 2008 book by Steve Brusatte and Michael Benton by the same title.
This is a large-format field guide to the true dinosaurs – the Tetrapoda (excludes pterosaurs and marine reptiles). Dinosaur taxonomy is complex and contentious, and while more than 1 500 species have been claimed, many records are based on partial remains or are without adequate scientific documentation. The author recognises 600+ species. An extensive introduction treats a wide range of topics from taxonomy, evolution, biology and behaviour to a discussion of fossil discoveries and paleontological research.
The bulk of the book is devoted to full treatment of the five dinosaur groups: protodinosaurs; predatory dinosaurs and protobirds; prosauropods; sauropods; and ornithiscians. After each family introduction, the species text includes biometrics, fossil remains (proportion of full animal recovered and sites at which specimens have been found), age, distribution and formations, habitat (where known), and habits (mainly based on anatomical features).
The level of knowledge about species varies considerably and this is fully reflected in the species accounts. Many of the species descriptions are accompanied by black-and-white anatomical reconstructions and/or skull diagrams as well as numerous colour renderings of the complete animal. There are also supplementary illustrations – eggs, trackways, herds, juveniles and so forth – and evocative colour and black-and-white 'scenes' of dinosaur behaviour.
Gregory Paul is an independent scholar and 'paleoartist.' He is author and illustrator of Predatory Dinosaurs of the World (Simon & Schuster, 1989) and Dinosaurs of the Air (Johns Hopkins, 2002), and editor of The Scientific American Book of the Dinosaurs (St Martin's Press, 2003). His scientific writings and papers have appeared in Scientific American, The New York Times, Nature and numerous specialist journals and publications.