Picks and Pans Review: The New Dinosaurs

updated 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Dougal Dixon

Lots of people talk about what happened to the dinosaurs, but nobody does anything about it. Or at least nobody before Dixon had done anything about it. He is the Scottish science writer whose book After Man extrapolated on what creatures might reign in the future. In this volume he ignores whatever catastrophe killed the dinosaurs as if it had never happened. Mammals have never developed and reptiles still rule the earth. Tyrannosaurus rex is no longer the big celeb of the species, having been rendered obsolete by more adaptable creatures. Dixon doesn't neglect the tiniest details. The sandle, for instance, is a desert creature that, the author speculates, would have to have very efficient kidneys, "allowing almost all the moisture to be retained and secreting any poisonous compounds in a saliva that helps to paralyze and subdue its prey." Some of Dixon's dinosaur names seem to take away a little of the creatures' dignity: The furry orange kloon, for instance, is a forest dweller that looks a little like a cheerleader's pom-pom. The book is colorfully illustrated by various artists, however, and ought to please science teachers in two ways: It stimulates provocative discussion about how reasonable Dixon's scenarios are, and it provides proof that science can be a lively, vivid enterprise as well as a subject to get a grade in. (Salem House, $19.95)

From Our Partners