Vintage dinosaur books
February 9, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Vintage dinosaur books. Those of a certain age likely discovered dinosaurs in the pages of one of these books in their grade-school library. I'm almost sure that this one was my first (but I remember the cover being black instead of red), and that this was my second. Does anybody remember this one? Or this?
posted by e-man (41 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I basically memorized THE GIANT GOLDEN BOOK OF DINOSAURS when I was six years old.. how nice to see those beautiful illustrations again.
posted by mert at 10:03 PM on February 9, 2010

Great find e-man. That first book in the index, by Rev. H. N. Hutchison – Extinct Monsters is available in full from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
posted by tellurian at 10:27 PM on February 9, 2010

What a curious coincidence - a copy of "The How and Why Wonder Book of Dinosaurs" arrived in the mail today. I grew up poring over its pages and ordered a copy in a fit of nostalgia last week, after seeing a picture of its cover on a blog post somewhere.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:30 PM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh wild, I've known Norman (3rd link) for 20-some years. He's a talented illustrator as well as a Niceasaurus.
posted by jamaro at 10:36 PM on February 9, 2010

Thank you for posting this. I can't remember the last time I even thought about old dinosaur books. This one has a wonderful crazy scrimshaw look. This index is fabulous. I love this page..and this one...
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:36 PM on February 9, 2010

I totally had the "this one" book. Spent hours and hours and hours poring over it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:45 PM on February 9, 2010

About a year ago I found an excellent DK books; Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric life on sale for $15 in a small local bookstore (down from about $45, now seems to be about $20 Canadian online) I needed to purchase it, as I could not find my older dinosaur books, and it had a lot of images, and text... and I will always have a need to be an obsessive nerd about dinosaurs. Amazing pictures here. This post is full of great.

This book and audio tape (lost in dinosaur world; about "TIM" getting lost in a park that hosts dinosaurs in various settings...) is likely the precursor (or maybe prior art) to Jurassic park. It was awesome.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:53 PM on February 9, 2010

Mine was All About Dinosaurs by Roy Chapman Andrews:
In the [first] fifteen years [of field work] I can remember just ten times when I had really narrow escapes from death. Two were from drowning in typhoons, one was when our boat was charged by a wounded whale, once my wife and I were nearly eaten by wild dogs, once we were in great danger from fanatical lama priests, two were close calls when I fell over cliffs, once was nearly caught by a huge python, and twice I might have been killed by bandits.
posted by pracowity at 11:14 PM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not only did I have the "this one" book, I scored a copy a few years ago.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 11:30 PM on February 9, 2010

The How and Why series did make it to the UK and their Dinosaurs title occupied a weirdly totemic position in my mind, more so than any of the others. Typically, British books tended to be fairly conservative in their depiction of the Terrible Lizards, each presented in isolation like so many postage stamps, but Dinosaurs seemed to offer a snapshot of the moment, all teeth and wild, lush backgrounds. It was the perfect handbook to the equally spellbinding Aurora models, of which I was of course obsessed.
posted by specialbrew at 2:26 AM on February 10, 2010

Sheesh these are terrible! All those drawings and not one decent photograph!
posted by gomichild at 4:23 AM on February 10, 2010

On of my biggest memories of kindergarten is that small plastic dinosaurs (not painted like the modern ones) were all the rage among us boys, including knowing the proper names of each of them.
posted by D.C. at 4:24 AM on February 10, 2010

Here's something which unfortunately you don't see in dinosaur books anymore. These days authors stick stricly to animals scientifically classed as dinosaurs and ignore all the other cool animals who lived at the same time.

As parent to a dinosaur-obsessed 2.5 year old, I can tell you that this very much not the case. Dinosaur books are filled to the brim with pterosaurs and icthyosaurs.

I'd say a much larger problem is the non-standardized coloring, anatomy and naming across books, which makes identification difficult. One book will show a "corythosaurus" with a green crest, another will show a "lambeosaurus" with a red one and a third book has "duck bill dinosaurs" where the crest is barely visibile. It's the same dinosaur (probably)!

That same 2.5 year old has a toy dinosaur that I now would call an "ankylosaurus" but which some web page led me to teach him was a "scolosaurus". Another book has a very similar dinosaur called a "euocephalus" which I can't find documented anywhere else (or maybe I'm spelling it wrong). Grrr.
posted by DU at 4:31 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

That is true, DU. In our day, dinosaurs were like Model T's: they mostly came in one color. By the way, you can tell from these sites that many people came to their love of science through dinosaurs, but how about a love of words? I mean, what great training for language it must be for a kid to memorize these mouthfuls of multi-syllabic dinosaur names for delivery at the dinner table. I can recall being a pre-schooler, and having an argument with my scientist grandfather about the proper pronunciation of "diplodocus".
posted by Faze at 4:48 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a great time at the museum a few weeks ago, watching with great amusement as excited 3-year old boys explained the dinos to their families. Yay dinosaurs!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:04 AM on February 10, 2010

Oh yeah, pronouncing dinosaur names is great training. The 2.5 year old gets most of them right (more than any other member of my family anyway) except for "diplodocus", which he pronounced "PLOGduhdis".
posted by DU at 5:10 AM on February 10, 2010

You pretty much nailed it for me with your last four links starting with "this one." Those first two I often checked out from the library, the last two I owned and have since repurchased. Thanks for the post!

Those How and Why Wonder books were pretty cool all around.
posted by marxchivist at 5:29 AM on February 10, 2010

All I had was "Bronty the Brontosaurus" -- the heart-warming tale of a little bronty and his mom. They ate much greenery and escaped from meat-eaters by running into the deep water!
posted by clvrmnky at 5:36 AM on February 10, 2010

I still have the Golden Book of Dinosaurs laying around somewhere. Plus this one.
posted by Max Power at 5:53 AM on February 10, 2010

What a tremendous post. When I see a lot of the book covers here it just opens up the memory trapdoor and sends me plunging down into the past. What is it about dinosaurs that grabs kids (especially boys) with such a grip? I was a dino fanatic from kindergarten through maybe second or third grade. I had the models, the nickel pastic figures I got from W.T. Grants, and I had a lot of books. The How and Why Wonder Book was one of my favorites. I got it for Christmas one year and I spent hours copying the illustrations, especially the allosaurus. All About Dinosaurs--that was another one. (Many years later I began working on a book proposal about Roy Chapman Andrews, but somebody beat me to it. I did end up writing a nice magazine article about his Gobi Desert expeditions.) I also love the Turok, Son of Stone comics, in which the title character and his young charge Andar (we called him Andy) encountered Honkers in the Lost Valley. The kid next door, who had a bunch of Turoks, visited Dinoland at the World's Fair and had the Dinoland brochure (and some nifty plastic dinos he bought there). My envy was off the scale.
posted by Man-Thing at 6:34 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, man. Herbert S. Zim, there's a name from my geeky childhood. He wrote over a hundred books about science for kids, and I must've read every single one of them. He was the Isaac Asimov of the anti-dodge-ball set.

Spot on, Faze, these books encouraged both the love of learning and the love of reading. I always loved the way 'diplodocus' rolls off the tongue, but somehow I made it to advanced adulthood before a six year old pointed out that it's /ANG kilo saurus/ not /ANK lee o saurus/.

I turned the tables, though, when he couldn't pronounce 'metathesis'.
posted by Herodios at 6:36 AM on February 10, 2010

I think I read nearly all of those books. I absolutely went through the first grade "dinosaurs are AWESOME" phase and we stacked up book after book.

In fourth grade, my dad was taking some photographs for work so I did some cut and paste from the dinosaur books and magazines to make trick photography of people getting eaten by dinosaurs. This was still AWESOME.

I, of course, was totally dismayed to find that there is no longer an animal called bronotosaurus as it has been deprecated in favor of apatosaurus. Apparently Othniel Charles Marsh was pretty excited to named newly discovered dinosaurs.
posted by plinth at 6:39 AM on February 10, 2010

There is a picture somewhere of me sitting on my dad's lap on Christmas morning beaming with joy as we read this one. Thanks for the memory.
posted by stargell at 6:47 AM on February 10, 2010

I remember this quite clearly.
posted by Mister_A at 7:15 AM on February 10, 2010

Roy Chapman Andrews was the man for me, also. I remember laying on my parents' bed, my dad reading off of those books. Still have them, in fact.
posted by Danf at 8:01 AM on February 10, 2010

We had the book in the 2nd last link. Stegosaurus, my old friend!

The Childcraft series and other books about natural history, geology, the universe etc, were so central to my childhood that it blew my mind to discover at age 8 or 9 that I had to explain what a T. rex was to my Mennonite friend because she didn't have even ONE dinosaur book. I was flabbergasted. "What -- what do you read, then?" Bible stories, mostly, she said. I had those too, but they weren't nearly as interesting as dinosaurs.

It still blows my mind, actually. That memory comes up often when contemplating the impenetrable certitude of certain religious fundamentalists that their way is the only valid way to see the world and everyone else is immoral and going to hell.

Thanks for the post.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:11 AM on February 10, 2010

I remember reading a dino book that had gorgeous pictures of technicolor dinos -- many years before that was seriously discussed. That would have been back in the 1950s. I read Roy Chapman Andrews and many other books but my formative dino experience was the incredible fold-out Zallinger mural from the Peabody Museum in LIFE Magazine. I was only 3 when that came out, but I remember seeing it somewhere, and since we lived not far from New Haven. I saw the original in the Peabody several times on visits.

I got drunk in a New Haven bar with Zallinger's son many years later; he was in New HAven, where I lived during the 1970s, to do some restorative work on his father's mural.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:24 AM on February 10, 2010

Oh, man. Thank you for this post. This is great!

DU: "Oh yeah, pronouncing dinosaur names is great training. The 2.5 year old gets most of them right (more than any other member of my family anyway) except for "diplodocus", which he pronounced "PLOGduhdis"."

Despite being a Dinosaur-pronouncing master as a child, I mispronounced Deinonychus as "Die-Nick-These" for an embarrassing amount of time. That was my favorite Dinosaur, too! I was a dino dork to a cartoonish level. When Dinamation came to town, I was a volunteer tour guide. Twice.

Speaking of Dinosaur books, be sure to check out William Stout's book, The Dinosaurs (there's a new edition with more artwork called The New Dinosaurs, which can get kind of confusing). It's one of the most gorgeous books I've ever seen, and if you give a copy to a child* you are all but guaranteeing that that child will become a paleontologist, an illustrator, a writer, or some combination of the above. It's cool on all fronts.

* I'll leave the proper age up to someone else as I'm bad at judging that. Its depiction of the world of the Dinosaurs is a tad "red in tooth and claw," and there's one tasteful depiction of two Parasaurolophus gettin' it on. I got a copy for my girlfriend's 11 yr old, and it seemed appropriate.
posted by brundlefly at 8:34 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does anybody remember this one? Or this?

YES! Oh god, yes. The first was at my school; the second, at home. Wow, flood of memories.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:09 AM on February 10, 2010

And wow, wasn't expecting to see this one again. Ever.

You rock, e-man.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:11 AM on February 10, 2010

I still have a copy of the second-to-last link. Awesome stuff. It's amazing how much paleontologists have learned since the books I grew up with in the '70s.
posted by asfuller at 9:15 AM on February 10, 2010

I mispronounced Deinonychus as "Die-Nick-These"

The BBC series Walking With Dinosaurs pronounced this as "dino-NYE-kiss" while I have another source that pronounces it "dye-NON-ik-us".

Get on the ball, Dinosaur Scientists, and put out a pamphlet on the Official Inforomation.
posted by DU at 9:50 AM on February 10, 2010

It use the later pronunciation, these days.
posted by brundlefly at 10:01 AM on February 10, 2010

Ok, so first of all, AWESOMEST POST EVER! Roy Chapman Andrews' All About Dinosaurs was the one for me-- I must have done a book report on it every year of elementary school (and yes, I would write a new one each time)

Playing with toy dinosaurs, building models of dinosaurs, pretending to be dinosaurs and knowing all their names was the central obsession of my life from ages 4 to 9ish. I had an aunt who would take me to American Museum of Natural History in NYC every year for my birthday and indulged me in every way for my love for the ol' Thunder Lizards. This post and its comments make me want to call her and thank her.

Matter of fact, that's just what I'm going to do . . .
posted by KingEdRa at 10:01 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

It use the later pronunciation, these days.

Both pronounciations are from recent sources.
posted by DU at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2010

I know. I used to say the first pronunciation, then I heard someone use the second and it just sounded cooler to me.
posted by brundlefly at 10:21 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Scientific, I know.
posted by brundlefly at 10:21 AM on February 10, 2010

Peter Thomas narrated a read-along book about dinosaurs that I was absolutely obsessed with in kindergarten in the late 70s. The illustrations used a very dark palette and emphasized the more "carnivorous" aspects of the big lizards and their demise. I used to read it every week and just listen to Thomas's voice because it was so cool.
posted by gargoyle93 at 10:41 AM on February 10, 2010

The American Museum of Natural History has a free dinosaur app for the iPhone/iTouch which is quite cool -- hundreds of species and information. And the price is right!

Similarly the Smithsonians dinosaur mixer app is fun of you have kids -- 99 cents.
posted by Rumple at 8:07 PM on February 10, 2010

The American Museum of Natural History has a free dinosaur app...

Similarly the Smithsonians dinosaur mixer app...

Okay, I never thought there'd be an app for that.
posted by e-man at 10:22 PM on February 10, 2010

I seem to have struck a chord.... :-)

Mister_A I remember that one too. The illustrations were weird, and the author called Allosaurus "Antrodemus" -- but I liked it because it had the most species of any dinosaur book I read as a kid (more than 40).

Marxchivist, as I wrote in the FPP I think I remember that book -- same cover illustration, but with different colours. I definitely remember two illustrations from it: a Brontosaurus (suck it, "Apatosaurus"!) knocking down an Allosaurus with its tail, and the last page showing a mastodon, a mammoth, and a sabre-tooth tiger. Do those ring a bell?

I'm still bitter that I never got to present the Zim book in Grade 1 show-and-tell. We went in alphabetical order and my last name came near the end, and of course some other kid picked it before my turn came.
posted by e-man at 10:47 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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