Book Review: Dire Dragons

dire_dragons-bookI told you yesterday I picked this book up straight from Creation Today (who also gave me a great fellow-helper discount, so when you buy your copy, please get it from them so they can recoup their losses.) When we were all settled into our rooms that evening I finally had a chance to look it over. It took quite a while before I was finished!

The author, Vance Nelson, is a bona-fide fact-checker guy. I don’t know if you are aware of the basic personality gifts the Holy Spirit has handed out to everyone, but I can usually spot a “teacher type” within a few seconds. This guy oozes carefulness and thoroughness, yet I didn’t find his writing dull or dry (a pitfall of a lot of us teachers).

Here’s the premise of the book:

  • Examine a historical artwork that could be showing a dinosaur.
  • Double check to be sure it’s not a forgery
  • Locate a known dinosaur that looks similar
  • Have an artist do a rough position sketch from the artifact
  • Have another artist who’s never heard of the artifact do a CG model of the dinosaur in that position for comparison

The book is gorgeous. It’s not published by Master Books (which is why Answers in Genesis didn’t carry it, I guess), but a brand new group called Untold Secrets of Planet Earth. They’ve done just as good a job of presentation as Master does, even including a book mark ribbon. If you go to Vance Nelson’s WEBSITE, you can have a look at a number of spreads from inside to see for yourself.

After explaining his technique for ensuring unbiased dino portrayals, Nelson goes back to the roots of paleontology. He shows documents of the first scientific studies which freely use the word “dragon” to describe finds in the mid-1800s.

Then he does something I found absolutely brilliant. He completely dismantles the modern notion that ancient people knew about dragons because they were paleontologists, too. There are some people who have been forced to recognize the ancients knew about dinosaurs, but they want to cling to the “dinos died out millions of years ago” line, too. Adrienne Rogers has written a couple of  books to keep such people’s brains from tearing apart: The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans.

Turns out you have to be pretty devoted to the consensus storyline to fall for those ideas. They just don’t fit the facts. My favorite point Vance Nelson makes on this debate is the examples of early dinosaur reconstructions from the 1850s. Here’s what modern models show with our study of muscle connections and stuff:

Megalosaurus ('Great Lizard', from Greek, μεγα...

Megalosaurus (‘Great Lizard’, from Greek, μεγαλο-/megalo- meaning ‘big’, ‘tall’ or ‘great’ and σαυρος/sauros meaning ‘lizard’) is a genus of large meat-eating theropod dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period of what is now southern England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s how they showed them in the 1850s:

Reconstruction of Megalosaurus and Pterodactyl...

Reconstruction of Megalosaurus and Pterodactylus by Samuel Griswold Goodrich from Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nuff said!

Then, the rest of the book is filled with examples of authentic artwork from around the world. Everything is arranged by country with a beautiful map spread before starting in. Nelson usually opens with some info on how he found out about the site, had trouble getting there, or just the history of the artwork. By the time you actually see the comparison between art and dino, the tension has already built up, so you really want to know how the two compare.

A few of the art pieces I recognized from other creation sites, but, as he points out, most of the examples he uses are new to the dino/dragon debate. You will not be disappointed.

The last thing I’ll mention is that I learned about a lot of dinosaurs I didn’t know in this book. He also shows several baby dinos which I’d never seen before except in Land Before Time. It seems the artists on that film were fairly accurate. :-)

It’s not a cheap book, but one every family with at least one dino or art lover in it should save up for!

And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. Psalm 72:19 

Kudos to Nelson’s graphic designer, Jeff Chiasson. His work makes this book a pleasure to look through even before the information starts to flow!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Dire Dragons

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Chronicles of Dinosauria | Creation Science 4 Kids

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