Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dragons of the Deep by Carl Wieland

book cover

Dragons of the Deep
by Carl Wieland

Illustrated by Darrell Wiskur

Hardback: 80 pages
Publisher: Master Books
First Released: 2005

Source: Bought from New Leaf Publishing Group.

Book Description from Publisher's Website, slightly modified:
Could the stories about sea monsters be true? Did fearsome and marvelous creatures once roam the oceans? From the predator Mosasaurus, called the ocean equivalent of T. Rex, to the gigantic turtle Archelon, these beasts who glided through the planet’s oceans no doubt were the inspiration for ancient sightings by mariners who described fantastic encounters on the open ocean. As researchers discover teeth, bones, and fossils from these creatures, it's no longer easy to dismiss sea monsters as tall tales...and some gigantic sea creatures are still alive today! Wieland’s descriptions of these amazing creatures are complemented by the beautiful full-color illustrations by acclaimed artist Darrell Wiskur.

My Review:
Dragons of the Deep is a children's nonfiction book about huge sea creatures (marine reptiles and mammals, turtles, squid, fish and sharks) of both the past and present. Adults will enjoy the book as well. It covered 17 main sea monsters with a 4 page spread for each creature. The author discussed what we know about the creature and, if it's thought to be extinct, what fossil evidence this information was based on (bones, skin impressions, stomach contents, etc.). We're given the creature's name, length, weight, the location it (or it's fossils) have been found, and fun facts about what it ate or what legends might be based on it. There's a painting-style picture of what each creature might have looked like, pictures of live ones, pictures of the fossils, illustrations showing how large they were compared to common objects (like cars), and more.

Woven into this was information on how we can determine things about what the creature was like based on the fossils. Also, when discussing how and where the various fossils of the creatures were found, the author discussed how fossils are formed.

The book was written from a Christian perspective, so the author occasionally said things like "God created this creature..." or refered to Noah's Flood as creating many fossils. Overall, I enjoyed the book and thought it was very well done. I'd recommend it to children and adults who are interested in sea monsters.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

A Teen's Review:
I gave this book to a girl who'd just turned 13 years old. She was highly engaged by it, and, as she was reading, she kept looking up to say, "Hey, did you know that such-and-such was this big?" and other things she'd just learned from it. She read the whole book at one sitting, and I suspect she'll be going back to look at it again (once her other birthday gifts start to get boring ;)).

A magnificent predator, Mosasaurus, was a sea-dwelling reptile that has been called the marine equivalent of Tyrannosaurus rex--only much bigger. Known today only from fossils, mosasaurs (this is the name given to the whole group that includes Mosasaurus) came in a wide range of sizes. Some were truly huge. From their bones, it is estimated that some could have been up to 50 feet (15 m) in length, more than a four-story building on its side. If so, that would make such a creature the biggest predatory carnivore (flesh-eater) the world has ever known.

The bones of mosasaurs have been found on every continent of the world, including Antarctica. They had long, snake-like bodies, and would have used their long, sinewy tails to propel themselves powerfully through the water with a side-to-wide motion. These animals probably could not swim fast for very long distances, but would have been able to ambush their prey by surprising them, and outswimming them in a burst over a short distance. Their broad, paddle-like legs were primarily useful for steering.

They had a long, pointed head with powerful jaws containing many long, sharp teeth.

[There's more about the mosasaurus, but I'm quitting typing here.]

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