Ever since giant fossils were discovered in the western world more than 200 years ago, dinosaurs or 'terrible lizards' as they were named, have captured the public imagination. New discoveries and excavations continue to make dinosaurs an endless subject of fascination, and each new find has added or confirmed a different dimension to our understanding of the world of prehistoric creatures.
This seminal book brings together every important dinosaur find from the last two centuries and from the world's richest fossil sites. The result is a comprehensive, groundbreaking book that details every kind of prehistoric creature known from the age of dinosaurs, including dinosaurs, fish, mammals, reptiles, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, amphibians, crocodiles, turtles, birds and mosasaurs.
A comprehensive introduction explains the evolution of earth's geology and the development of animal and plant life within it, culminating with the arrival of the dinosaurs. It explains the classification of dinosaurs and how they developed over the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous eras, from the smallest sea creature to the largest land-dwelling dinosaurs with the greatest body mass. The different habitats where dinosaurs are thought to have lived are all depicted, from deserts to lagoons, lakes, mountains, swamps and plains, together with the fossil evidence that helps to explain the presence of dinosaurs in each site.
Fascinating anatomical drawings demonstrate the skeletal make up of the different dinosaurs - sauropods, theropods, ornithopods, and armoured dinosaurs - and explain how they functioned, moved and lived. Expert analysis of fossils has provided theories about what dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures ate; fossil footprints help explain how they socialized, whether moving in herds, or in solitary isolation; and the discovery of eggs provides theories about how dinosaurs formed colonies, migrating to different areas to rear their young. Finally the role of the dinosaur hunters is explained, with a glimpse at how fossils are excavated, and where the most important fossil sites are in the world.
The main section of the book is an encyclopedia of 1000 dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. Every entry is clearly described according to the latest scientific thinking and is placed within the context of when it lived. Its size and shape, muscle and bone structure are detailed together with explanations of how it moved, hunted and defended itself from attack. Fossil evidence has revealed the feeding preferences of many dinosaurs and the position of jaws and teeth show how it killed and ate its prey. Current ideas about skin texture and covering are all explained. Each main entry is accompanied by a highly detailed and technically accurate watercolour illustration, and a map showing the sites where fossils have been found.