Posts Tagged ‘Brian Switek’

Brian Switek and Julius Costonyi are some of the best people at what they do. Brian being a passionate writer of things dealing with the field of paleontology and Julius being an absolutely gifted artist. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of meeting both of these gentlemen over the years, as well as working with Brian in the field at the Burpee Museum‘s Utah dig site in 2014. When I found out earlier this year that they had collaborated together on a book I was ecstatic and knew right away that, children’s book or not, it would be something worth picking up. Finally, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Prehistoric Predators!

Now, judging from the cover one might assume that the book may only deal with predators of the Mesozoic- which is not the case at all. This book actually has five chapters: Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic.

The book begins with a great introduction, explaining briefly the history of predatory animals on earth as well as giving us a nice  breakdown of the periods on the right hand side (and when dealing with the Cenozoic it even goes down to the Epochs, a pretty rare and welcomed addition for a children’s book!) All of the periods and epochs have year ranges associated with them so that when you read the rest of the text and, for example, you see that Linheraptor lived between 84 and 75 million years ago you can flip to this key and pin point the period that it would belong to.

This book highlights over 40 different predators, but there are far more animals included in this text (come on, you can’t have a book about predators without including their prey!) Each chapter opens up with a description of what is going on during this time in history- how the earth is changing, what new species are evolving, notable extinctions, etc.

The meat of the book are the species highlights. In general it is laid out like an average guide book to the various species. You get the name, followed by how you pronounce it, the age of the creature, a physical description, and ending with a little “Scientific Bite”- a kind of blurb or random bit of information about the creature. Accompanying the facts of the creatures there is also usually a paragraph describing the illustration on the page: what is happening, and what exactly you are seeing. They also include information on current knowledge about the species you are looking at.

While at first glance you may think that this book is set up like most other children’s dinosaur books, it isn’t. The small picture accompanying discretion tend to offer a lot of valuable information on current research and theories in the field of paleontology. Also another MAJOR inclusion is the fact that all of the highlighted animals have their species name! This is something that is hardly ever in children’s dinosaur books! When I was younger I would have given anything for a book to include the species names. It’s a great addition, and one I’m glad they put in. It’s one of the main things, for me, that really helps separate this book from others like it on the market. They unfortunately don’t include the scientific in the pronunciation part on each fact bubble, but that’s only a minor complaint.

Within each chapter there is a great range of animals from each time period. We obviously are going to get well known animals like Velocriaptor, Spinosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus rex (seriously, it’s pretty much sacrilegious to not include that trifecta now in nearly any dinosaur book.) But there is also a great array of animals not commonly presented. Animals like Eocarcharia, Masiakasaurus, and Guanlong get some really good pages in this book- among many others. Also, Therizinosaurus gets a page in this book- in a “predators” book! I think that’s so awesome. because it’s often not clumped together with theropods because the common thinking is that they are omnivores/mainly herbivores (it was completely skipped in my dinosaur class in college because of that reason.) I don’t know, maybe authors tend to think it’s hard to discribe a theropod that isn’t strickly a carnivore. Not Switek though.  He and Csotonyi present it like a pair of bosses and then continues on with the book. I love the fact that it’s included in this text.

While the information presented is absolutely fantastic, the artwork is the real selling point. Julius Csotonyi’s artwork jumps off the pages at you to give you goosebumps. He presents all of the prehistoric animals in this book with such life that sometimes you swear you’re looking at a photo. All at the same time he’s including current scientific theories about each of these animals as well as his own artistic spin. These images are so detailed that you could spend countless time looking at one of the landscapes and still be catching new details. The images are incredibly dynamic, and full of atmosphere and emotion. The Dimetrodon with a ripped sail. The Suchomimus fishing. The Giganotosaurus. The Deltadromeus. All of these are so rich in how they are presenting individual stories, it’s breathtaking. And good God I need a mural of that Jurassic storm scene with the Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

While there are no flaws at all in the artwork (or really in this book at all for that matter) I do think it’s interesting to note that on the introduction page we get a great image of a Tyrannosaurus rex. If you turn to page 63 in the book you can see that the same base image was used to make the Daspletosaurus. Not a critique at all, in fact it’s pretty common for this kind of thing to pop up in books. Artwork gets edited, and refined. Besides, T. rex and Daspletosaurus are related and look similar. It’s not like they took a rex and added a sail to it and called it Spinosaurus.

Overall Prehistoric Predators is an incredible book with some great information, and amazing artwork. It lacks a lot of the more graphic scenes you come to expect in a lot of predatory based dinosaur books (even for kids,) and the information is easy to read and comprehend- making it a great book for younger dinosaur enthusiasts. While older paleo-lovers may want a little more on the side of reading and facts, they are sure to be thrilled with what in-depth information is there, the inclusion of some lesser known prehistoric animals, as well as they very inspiring art work.

It’s a great book for ages young and old, and defiantly worth getting at first sight!

Prehistoric Predators is published by Applesauce Press and is available online and in book stores now, with a list price of $19.95.

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Jurassic World Alice Levin

The time had finally come! My family and I had been planning this trip for ages it seems and it had finally come: our trip to Jurassic World. I’ve wanted to go since 2005, but things didn’t pan out and we kept pushing it back because of various reasons until finally in early 2013 the hubby and I finally decided to go for it.  We had to rack in quite a bit of extra cash. At this point we have two boys, verses 2005 when we had none and both of them are super dino-crazy. I had always wanted to go because of the beauty of the island and how exotic the resort seems to be, the dinosaurs were just a plus! But now with our two boys we had more to think about. We wanted to make it the most memorable trip of their lifetime- and I think we succeeded!

We ended up going with the John Hammond Package, since that option seemed really geared towards dino-enthusiasts. My husband was worried that parts of it would be a bit tedious for the boys and we should have booked the Family Package since the website makes this particular package seem very factual/educational and geared more towards the adult dinosaur lovers and soon to be college students, but it wasn’t that way at all! Every moment of it was fun and action packed, while still being educational! My boys and even we were enthralled every day we were there (this package consists of three consecutive days.)

Highlights of the John Hammond Package:

– My favorite part had to be the behind the scenes tour with the resident paleontologist Brian Switek. This man genuinely loves his work, and was really engaging to listen to. As we went on our tour he gave us a kind of lecture on the Mesozoic as well as the science and making of Jurassic World (which also included a little history on the old Jurassic Park!) We learned about how the dinosaurs are made, and how they are cared for.  Then at the very end he gave our boys each a signed edition of one of his books. Fantastic!!

– My boys LOVED being present during a hatching. They had been expecting a “theropod” (a word Brian taught me!) of some kind, so when they found out they were going to see a stegosaur they kind of groaned. But you should have seen their faces once that egg started moving. They couldn’t take their eyes of it, and their jaws were hanging open. My youngest now says that his favorite dinosaur is now the stegosaurus!

-The guided gyrosphere tour was breathtaking, and definitely takes the cake. It’s different than the normal tour, and our special recorded guide took us closer to the herds and farther away from the normal trail than most guests get to go. It was outstanding.  I swear my husband, at one point, shed a tear. He’s not a super dino-fanatic but he loves nature. We take trips when we can out west and I swear half of the pictures we own are of different formations and landscapes. Seeing these animals really put him in awe.

Other highlights of Jurassic World in General:

–  The food! Oh Lord the food was amazing. Each night we ate at a new restaurant. Dave and Buster’s was obviously my kid’s favorite because… well, pizza and video games. How can you go wrong? But I personally loved Winston’s Steakhouse (GET THE LAMBCHOP!) and my husband really liked Nobu, but we also both really liked Margaretville (at night, once the kids were in bed obviously!)

-The Cretaceous Cruise was almost as breathtaking as the guided gyrosphere tour. It was such an amazing way to see the animals.

-The aquatic park was a great way to cool down. It got pretty humid while we were there, so we liked to cool down from time to time.

-The Jurassic World Hilton is literally one of the best hotels you will EVER stay at. Period.

In general everything was great about this vacation. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted in the three days that we were there and we’re already hesitantly planning our next trip (although it may be a while, unless we dip into the kid’s college funds!) The John Hammond Package was absolutely amazing, and worth every penny (which I’m super happy about because had it not been this would have been one expensive let down!) The only reason I didn’t give Jurassic World five stars was because around January I found out that in June Jurassic World is actually going to have a new attraction opening up, the Indominus rex and I really wanted to go then but unfortunately too much time had passed and we weren’t able to change our tickets. Oh well. My boss probably wouldn’t have let me change the date of my vacation anyway.

If you haven’t gone you’re doing yourself a disservice. Stop what you’re doing and go, right now.

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“Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “Jurassic Park ///”, “Jurassic World” are Trademarks of Universal Studios, Legendary Pictures, and Amblin Entertainment.

Based off Characters Created by Michael Crichton