Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nonfiction That Makes the Grade: Last of the Dinosaurs: The Cretaceous Period by Thom Holmes

Prehistory is as much a product of the human mind as history. Scientists who specialize in unraveling clues of prehistoric life are called paleontologists. ... While paleontology is grounded in a study of prehistoric life, it draws on many other sciences to complete its accurate picture of the past...information from the fields of biology, zoology, geology, chemistry, meteorology, and even astrophysics.

In his sixth in the august series, The Prehistoric Earth, Last of the Dinosaurs: The Cretaceous Period (The Prehistoric Earth) (Chelsea House), author Thom Holmes calls upon his extensive knowledge to tell the dramatic story of the closing chapters in the time of the dinosaurs. Aiming for the high school reader and researcher, Holmes does not write down to his audience, making wide use of the various scientific areas which inform the study of the final eons of those fascinating reptiles.

Although no gee-whiz expose' of giant killer reptiles, Holmes' account is a fascinating one, especially in his final chapters, describing how modern reptiles and modern birds evolved from certain clades of feathered dinosaurs. Complex terms and concepts are introduced clearly and appealingly, and those terms used appear in boldface, referencing the reader to the copious glossary. Of especial value to the reader and research paper writer are the cogent summaries which conclude each chapter, a very valuable resource which makes the world of complex detail in each easily assimilated by the young scholar.

A generous series of appendices will be invaluable to the researching student--from a geologic time scale, the aforementioned glossary, which defines such integral terms as clade and taxa,, a very extensive chapter by chapter bibliography of sources, and a substantial section of "Further Reading" and "Internet Sites" of value to the reader, all supported by a full index.

The ten volumes in the fine series The Prehistoric Earth cover prehistory from Early Life: The Cambrian Period (The Prehistoric Earth) to the final title, Early Humans: The Pleistocene & Holocene Epochs (The Prehistoric Earth).

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