Dinosaurus: The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs

Dinosaurus: The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs

by Steve Parker

Paperback(New, Updated Edition)

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"Magnificent in its breadth and illustration."
— Booklist

Dinosaurus was published in 2003 and went on to sell 15,000 in hardcover and more in paperback. Now 13 years have passed during which there have been dozens of discoveries. At the same price and fully revised, this edition of Dinosaurus is simply too exceptional a value to pass up.

Many incredible discoveries made 2015 a banner year. For example:

  • Yi qi ("ee chee", "strange wing"), the earliest known flying non-avian dinosaur
  • The "Chicken from Hell," a bird-like beaked, clawed and feathered dinosaur that roamed the Dakotas
  • Zhenyuanlong suni, a cousin of Velociraptor, suggests that this family has been inaccurately depicted. The new 5-foot-long dino more resembles a feathered poodle than the brute of Jurassic Park.
  • "Superduck," at 5 tons and with a mate-attracting head crest it is thought to be a missing link between two other known duck-billed head-crested dinosaur species.

Perhaps most exciting is that in 2016 the American Museum of Natural History opened a new exhibition featuring the astonishing, newly discovered 122-foot-long titanosaur, yet to be named. The plant-eating colossus is the largest dinosaur ever found — it weighed around 77 tons—as much as 14 or 15 African elephants!

No other life-form captures the imagination like dinosaurs. Organized by the major dinosaur families, Dinosaurus identifies 500 species. It describes in detail and stunning illustrations what they looked like, what they ate and how they fought, lived and died.

The features include:

  • Concise explanations of species' traits and habits
  • Vivid full-color illustrations representing life among the dinosaurs
  • Stunning color photographs of dinosaur discoveries
  • Latin name, translation and pronunciation
  • Height specifics and comparison to humans
  • Diet and habitat
  • Global distribution.

Brimming with research from digs in North America, Mongolia, Europe, China and elsewhere, Dinosaurus is an encyclopedic and vividly illustrated reference for all ages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770857766
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 10/01/2016
Edition description: New, Updated Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 356,962
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Steve Parker is a scientific fellow of the Zoological Society and is the author of The Encyclopedia of Sharks.

Read an Excerpt


"The king is dead: long live the king!" For almost 90 years, Tyrannosaurus rex reigned in the existing fossil record as the largest land predator the world had seen. But in 1994, Ruben Carolini, a car mechanic and part-time fossil enthusiast, was hunting in Patagonia, a region of southern Argentina, and came upon what proved to be a two-thirds complete skeleton of an even greater predator. A team from the increasingly well-known Carmen Funes Museum in Neuquén, Argentina, led by Rodolfo Coria with his colleague Leonardo Salgado, excavated the fossils. They were named in 1995. (See also Carcharodontosaurus, page 122.)

Giganotosaurus was a meter or two (3 to 6 feet) bigger and a ton or two heavier than Tyrannosaurus. Length estimates vary from 13 to 15-plus meters (43 to 49-plus feet). Dated at 100-90 million years old,
Giganotosaurus was separated by a continent and 25 million years from its "king of the dinosaurs" rival, Tyrannosaurus.

Giganotosaurus had a brain that was smaller than that of Tyrannosaurus, but its skull was bigger, at 1.8 meters (6 feet) - it alone was as long as a tall adult human being. The teeth were shaped not so much like daggers as like arrowheads, serrated along their edges, and over 20 centimeters (8 inches) long. The small forelimbs had three clawed digits, and the massive back legs each carried a few tons' weight as Giganotosaurus pounded along in search of food. Few additional specimens of this monster have been found, but in time, new discoveries may allow more speculation as to its behavior and probable prey. It may have eaten herbivorous dinosaurs, which are known to have been plentiful in the region, since fossils from over 20 species,
including one of the biggest of all sauropods, Argentinosaurus, were found there and dated from roughly the same time.

Meaning: Giant southern reptile
Pronunciation: Jee-gah-noe-toe-sore-uss
Period: Late Cretaceous
Main group: Theropoda
Length: up to 13 meters (42 feet)
Weight: 8 metric tons (81/2 tons)
Diet: Large animals
Fossils: Argentina

Table of Contents



Chapter One
Conquerors of the Land

Chapter Two
The First Dinosaurs

Chapter Three
The Small Meat-eaters

Chapter Four
The Great Predators

Chapter Five
Ostrich Dinosaurs

Chapter Six
The Giants

Chapter Seven
Bird-foot Dinosaurs

Chapter Eight
The Duckbills

Chapter Nine
The Boneheads

Chapter Ten
Armored Dinosaurs

Chapter Eleven
Plated Dinosaurs

Chapter Twelve
Horned Dinosaurs

Chapter Thirteen
Other Creatures of the Dinosaur Age

Chapter Fourteen
After the Dinosaurs

Picture credits and Acknowledgements


Excerpted from the


When dealing with dinosaurs, there is perhaps only one certainty: the "facts" will change. Of course, the lives of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals in this book cannot be altered. That world is long gone. What does change is our interpretation of how dinosaurs lived and died. Almost every week, new discoveries are announced. Debates and disagreements occur, old ideas are revived, and new ideas are challenged. Perhaps once a year, a fresh fossil find or a new theory of prehistory catches the public imagination. These newsworthy events tend to focus on which was the biggest or the fiercest of dinosaurs, which came first, and how their extinction is explained. It is the progress in our knowledge of these ancient animals that makes their study so exciting and enduring.

Dinosaurs in Perspective

A number of kinds, or species, of animals, plants and other living things in existence today likely exceeds 10 million. Insects are the vast majority. Some of the other main groups of invertebrates (animals without backbones) include around 100,000 species of slugs, snails, octopuses, mussels and other molluscs; 40,000 species of crabs, prawns, lobsters and other crustaceans; and 10,000 species of the simplest of all animals, sponges. Prehistoric versions of all these groups are shown in this book. Among the vertebrates, fish are by far the most species rich group, at 25,000, followed by some 9,000 species of birds, 7,000 reptile species and 5,000 types of amphibians. Our own group, the mammals, trails behind, with around 4,500 species. Overall, close to two million living species from all groups,including plants, have been described, named, and catalogued by scientists. Yet more than 99 out of every 100 kinds of living things that have ever existed are no longer around. They form a vast array of life forms that have appeared and then disappeared on our planet.

Within this array, scientists have listed several hundred types of dinosaurs. Each of these is a genus (plural, genera) containing one or more very closely related species. For example, Tyrannosaurus, "tyrant reptile," is a genus of huge meat-eaters from very late in the dinosaur age, about 70-65 million years ago. The best-known species is Tyrannosaurus rex, "king tyrant reptile." The differences between dinosaur species within the same genus are often complex and are much debated, depending on interpretation of tiny details on the fossils. This book describes principally genera of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, with a few excursions to the level of species to illustrate certain points.

The classification of some 400 genera of dinosaurs, and of several species within many of these genera, is a terrific achievement in relation to a group of animals known only from fossils. The fossil record is very scarce, patchy and fragmentary. The chances are that it shows us only a few kinds of dinosaurs that existed. The numbers and varieties of dinosaurs we do know about give some idea of the dominance they achieved over other forms of land life. Their fossils accumulated over a span of more than 160 million years.


In one sense, "evolution" simply means change. Living things have changed since they began, as shown by evidence from the fossil record. Types of plants and creatures appeared, flourished for a time, and then faded away. The bird called the passenger pigeon teemed in the millions in North America before European settlers arrived, but was slaughtered into oblivion by the early 20th century. The dodo, the quagga (a hoofed animal resembling a horses or zebra) and aurochs (ancestor of today's cattle) all died out within the past millennium. And all of these recent changes have been due to "unnatural" interference by humans in the natural world. But all through Earth's history, such disappearances, or extinctions have occurred on a regular basis. There is a turnover of species today, as there has been since life began.

Farther back in time, during the Age of Dinosaurs, the same changes occurred. They were due to the pressures of living -- finding food, escaping predators, sheltering from the elements, competing for a breeding partner and generally struggling to survive. If every offspring of every living thing survived, the world would soon have become impossibly crowded. No animal had a life free from hardships or interference. Natural forces or pressures, such as trying to get food or avoid a hunter, meant that some living things died out. The survivors were, in effect, those left after selection by nature's pressures -- which is what scientists mean by "natural selection."

What determined whether a living thing survived the struggle for existence? In part, the genetic "instructions," in the form of the chemical DNA, for bodily features or characteristics. Genes are inherited from parents. The way that reproduction works means that genes sometimes undergo change (mutation) or come together in different combinations (recombination) in different individuals. These are regular occurrences, and the result is that offspring vary from their parents and from each other. These variations may be small, but can be enough to tip the balance in the trial of survival. Useful features or characteristics mean that an individual is more likely to survive and breed, passing on its genes to its offspring by the process of inheritance.

Through prehistory, dinosaurs and other living things were subjected to the pressures of natural selection. If the environment had remained constant for all this time, then perhaps the dinosaurs, and life in general, would have reached a steady state of equilibrium. Conditions, however, have always changed. Climates have fluctuated, temperatures have varied, sea levels have gone up and down. Living things responded to the alterations by evolving. As they did so, living things were also part of the environment in relation to each other, causing further changes to evolve. Sometimes, evolution happened slowly and gradually, over millions of years. At other times, it occurred relatively quickly, followed by a long period of relative stability, which is known as "punctuated equilibrium" -- evolution by "jumps."

Evolutionary history is sometimes imagined as a "tree of life." There were one or two types of life early on, gradually giving rise to more and more different kinds, and so on. The end points or "twig-tips" are animals and plants alive today. However and untidy "hedge of life" might be more apt, since some species died out as others arose. Apart from life's earliest stages, there has always appeared to be great diversity and abundance.


The principal evidence for the existence of dinosaurs and other long-gone living things comes from fossils. These are the remains of organisms, or the traces they left, which have been preserved, usually in the form of rock. The phrase "bone to stone" sums up how a fossil forms, although not only bones have been preserved, and not all fossils are in the form of stony minerals. Also, the process of fossilization is long and beset by chance events. The fossil record in the rocks, and the story it tells of life on Earth, should therefore be approached with caution.

An old dinosaur lies down on a riverbank and dies. Then the river floods and, as the water subsides they leave a thick layer of sandy sediment that covers the animal's body. The fleshy parts of the dinosaur, such as its muscles and guts, rot away slowly. The harder parts, such as the bones, teeth, claws, and horns, are more resistant to decay. Through time, the sand is buried deeper as more layers accumulate on top. The pressure and temperature of the layers rise with increasing depth. The originally loose sand is gradually compressed and cemented by rock minerals, to become hard sandstone. The minerals seep into the dinosaur's bones, and other hard parts, too, and turn them into stone, while preserving their original shape.

Meanwhile, millions of years pass. Great earth movements lift and tilt the rocks, so that they are no longer built up but worn down. Natural forces of erosion -- the sun's heat by day, cold winds by night, rain, hail, frost and ice -- crack and split the overlying layers. One day, the erosion reaches the layer with the dinosaur's remains, or fossils. These are exposed to view just as a paleontologist walks past.

The above story may seem unlikely -- and it is. In fact, the vast majority of dinosaurs that ever lived did not form fossils. Their remains were crunched up by scavengers, or rotted away, or disintegrated in wind and rain. Vast numbers of the remains that did become fossilized did not last very long. They and their rocks were buried so deep in the Earth that they melted, destroying all traces of fossil shape and form. Many fossils that exist today are still deep in the Earth, far out of reach of our eyes or drills. It follows that the chances of a single dinosaur leaving any preserved remains at all must be millions to one.

Not only dinosaurs left fossils. Most living things, including animals, plants and even microbes, are represented in the fossil record. The great majority of preservations are hard parts, such as bones, teeth, claws, horns, shells, wood, leaf-ribs, seeds or cones. Because fossils tended to form when sand, mud or similar sediment quickly covers remains, protecting and slowing their disintegration, the greatest number are from marine animals that died and sank into the ooze on the seabed. As a result, the shells of crustaceans, such as trilobites, and of molluscs, such as ammonites, abound as fossils. Also, not only body parts were preserved. Eggshells, excavated nests and burrows, footprints, scratch marks, furrow-like tail-drags and even droppings or dung all left signs, known as "trace fossils." Much rarer are fossils of softer body parts, such as skin and flesh, which need exceptional conditions to be preserved (see page 23).

Finding Fossils

Fossils of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life forms are coming to light everyday, at thousands of sites around the world. However, usually no one is there to recognize their significance. Expectant fossil-finders can search and monitor only a tiny fraction of the places where preserved remains of prehistoric life become visible. A key requirement for such sites is suitable types of rocks at or near the surface.

Because of the in which fossils are formed, only the types of rocks called sedimentary rocks contain them. These include sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, clay, chalk and limestone. They are made of tiny particles, sediments, which once drifted and sank in water or were blown by the wind on land. The sediments settled in layers, were gradually buried deeper and eventually compacted and cemented into rock, with their fossils inside (see previous page). The two other major groups of rocks, igneous and metamorphic, hardly ever harbor fossils. Their formation includes massive pressures and great temperatures, which destroy any preserved remains they might initially contain, so vast areas of granite, basalt and other non-sedimentary rocks are of little interest to fossil-hunters. Also, many suitable fossil-bearing rocks are covered by soil and vegetation, such as woods, forest and grasslands, and so are hidden from the fossil-hunter's scrutiny.

To find fossils from a certain age, such as dinosaur remains from the Mesozoic era, the rocks must have been formed during that age. This greatly narrows down the choice of sites. Geological maps for large parts of the world's surface are produced by geologists, especially those prospecting for minerals and other resources such as coal, petroleum (oil) and metal ores. These maps are invaluable for paleontologists, who often work along side geologists in surveying teams. The maps show the types and approximate ages of the uppermost layers of rocks. However, much of the globe's land surface remains to be mapped in detail. Modern fossil-hunters are also helped enormously by aerial surveys and various types of photography from planes and satellites, including both normal visible light photographs and also images made from infrared, ultraviolet and other types of rays. These can identify potential sites in very remote areas that have been overlooked so far.

Many of the regions that contain the world's most famous fossil sites, such as the Gobi in Mongolia or parts of the midwestern USA, are "badlands." They are harsh landscapes where the rocks are exposed at the surface, and are continually worn away by the extremes of the elements. Hot daytime sun followed by chilled or freezing nights, and the occasional flood or sandstorm, crack and erode stone so that fresh layers are always being exposed. Soil is either blown or washed away, so few plants grow, and the rocks stay bare. Other excellent sites are along rocky coasts, lakeshores or riverbanks, where waves, wind and rain eat away at the cliffs or outcrops, and rockfalls regularly expose new formations. In mines, quarries, cuttings for roads and railways, and major construction projects such as dams, machines cause erosion. Such sites are regularly visited by fossil-hunters searching for newly revealed and interesting-looking remains.

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Dinosaurus: The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
NatoshaM More than 1 year ago
The book, Dinosaurus by Steve Parker is a look into the many different types of dinos. There are pictures of these dinos with the name, location, period these types were alive, length, weight and even diet. Plus, there is so much more about each listed and some interesting history knowledge about the dinosaur you'll discover on the same page of each photo. What is great about a book like this is that this can be a great resource to help anyone understand the different dinosaurs that lived on the earth, and there were many! You always hear about the Trex and a few other well-known dinos that are in movies or TV shows. However, you never learn about some other types, with unique features like the Velociraptor. It's just a wonder to know what use to live back when humans weren't alive. Also, it can be a great guide for those who wants a job in this type of dinosaur research. Though for me it's a wonderful book of creatures that can aid in drawing and learning about something I never knew about before. Finally, this is a terrific book of really nicely illustrated with the photo of dinosaurs and information that will help you understand each type. I really find it to be a great resource book and perfect for anybody of any age!