This week’s Word Wednesday takes a look at book similar to last year’s What’s Weird on Earth. This time, DK books are digging deep into prehistory with What’s Where on Earth: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life.
What Is What’s Where on Earth: Dinosaurs?
It’s a jaunt around the world that takes in the global history of dinosaurs. A comprehensive look at all things giant lizard, aimed at children aged around 8 upwards. As one might expect from DK, it’s filled with a huge number of high-quality pictures of dinosaurs. There are also maps, not just of the world as we know it, but across the geological timespan too. This book won’t just teach your children about dinosaurs. It will inform them about plate tectonics and the planet’s ever-shifting landscapes.
Like most DK Books, What Where on Earth: Dinosaurs is broken down into distinct sections.
1. Rise of the Dinosaurs.
A short section that gives a timeline of the Earth, including a fabulous, “if the existence of the planet was 12 hours,” diagram. This is a great way to explain to children the tiny fraction of time that humans have been alive, compared with the amount of time the Earth has existed. There’s also a description of what a dinosaur is, and a breakdown/overview of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous eras.
The rest of the book is broken down by geographical region, with each double page spread containing a single dinosaur. There is the occasional double page that has a picture scene and a single sidebar of text.
2. North America.
The biggest section in the book, featuring 10 dinosaurs, including Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus. Basically, all the dinos from my childhood, but also Albertosaurus, Ankylosaurus, and Pachycephalosaurs.
3. South America.
Here we come on to less well-known dinosaurs, such as Herrerasaurus and Argentinasaurus.
One of my favorite dinosaurs, the Archeopteryx, can be found in this section. It’s my favorite, as much anything else, because the word “Archeopteryx” sounds so wonderful. The Baryonyx also features here. Which I bring up because it was discovered about 15 miles from where I live.
The Giraffatitan is one of four African dinos featured. The “Fossil Finds” section notes that despite Africa having a rich fossil heritage, thanks to the continent’s tumultuous 20th-century history, paleontologists have only recently begun studying its rocks for signs of early life.
Probably most notable for having the Velociraptor included. My son immediately turned to the Asia section when I showed him the book.
7. Australia and Antarctica.
Australia began its tradition of having all the best-named animals 112 million years ago, with the Muttaburrasaurus.
8. After the Dinosaurs.
This section includes several weird and wonderful creatures that existed after the dinosaurs became extinct. The terrifying Titanoboa, and the proto-duck Gastornis (which suddenly makes the film Early Man seem a lot more reasonable). The long-toothed cat the Smilodon (Smile-Oh-don) and the Wolly Mammoth complete this section.
The book is closed out with a section on how fossils are formed, and the history of fossil collecting and fossil hunters. Finally, there is a brief overview of mass extinctions, followed by a comprehensive glossary.
A few things worth commenting on from across the book. Each section (apart from Section 8) is completed by a “Fossil Finds” section. This details the locations of fossil sites from around the relevant part of the globe. It also contains a list of major fossil discovery sites and the dinosaurs found there.
This book is called What’s Where On Earth, but of course where the fossils were found, is, geologically speaking, different from where the dinosaurs actually lived. The book is filled with maps that show the shifting tectonic plates of the region in question. Each double-page spread displays a timeline of how the plates shifted in that region. In addition, it also indicates the orientation of the plates at the time the dinosaur lived. On top of that, each entry displays a larger, close-up map, which illustrates the territory within the continent where the dinosaur was found.
Each dinosaur entry not only has its name, but also a phonetic spelling that will help children with how the name is pronounced (though often they seem to learn this by osmosis!). For example, Ig-wah-no-don.
Why Read What’s Where on Earth: Dinosaurs?
DK has excelled itself with this book. Not only is it filled with awesome dinosaur facts and pictures. It adds a geographical element which contextualizes dinosaur coexistence (or in some case shows why they never lived together.) The addition of the Fossil Finds pages adds yet another dimension that reveals the huge amount of work that has gone into building up the current picture we have of dinosaurs and their habitats.
Many children love to read just about anything they can get their hands on if it’s about dinosaurs. There are many great books that will fire their imaginations and this book is an excellent addition to the canon. What’s Where On Earth: Dinosaurs? is perfect for slightly older children (8 or so upwards) who want to expand their knowledge and build up a global overview of the Earth’s prehistory.
Admittedly, I’m a maps geek, but I think the decision to explain and reiterate plate tectonics, with map after map of how our planet looked, is an inspired decision. This is a fascinating book. One that I think will take adults a while to become tired of hearing about too. It’s a fabulous primer in how dinosaur researched has evolved since we were children (and even more recently.) If your child is going to continually inform you of their latest dino knowledge, it’s good to be updated with information as interesting as this.
If you’re looking for a book to inspire a dinosaur-loving child, you’ll struggle to find one better and more accessible than What’s Where On Earth: Dinsosaurs.
If you want to pick up a copy of What’s Where on Earth: Dinosaurs you can do so here, in the US and here, in the UK.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review.