Reviews and testimonials

Praise for Weird Dinosaurs:

This fantastic book will introduce you to an utterly bizarre new world of creatures

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Australian science communicator, prolific broadcaster, author and Julius Sumner Miller fellow in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.

Dinosaurs have long fascinated scientists and the general public alike, and there seems to be an unquenchable thirst for new information. Weird Dinosaurs is a book for the thirsty – packed with new knowledge and strange stories about recent finds that few readers will have heard before.

Philip Currie, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Dinosaur Palaeobiology, University of Alberta.

In the 26 years since Jurassic Park was released we have unearthed about 75 per cent of all known dinosaur species… Weird Dinosaurs is a tour de force through the latest digs across the planet. It features the amazing people unearthing new fossils and highlights the odd reptiles that roamed all corners of the earth millions of years ago. Read the full review.

Marcus Strom, Sydney Morning Herald

“Australian Geographic editor John Pickrell brings us up to date with Weird Dinosaurs, using the species’ often bizarre features as a giddy hook. Some had bat-like wings, some had elaborate neck frills, others shock with how large (or small) they were. Pickrell spends a lot of time on quests of individual fossil hunters and he shifts the focus from traditional fossil destinations such as North America to current hotspots China, Mongolia and Antarctica.”

Doug Wallen, The Big Issue (Australia)

Some of his stories are fascinating, such as his account of how Transylvanian aristocrat Franz Baron Nopcsa von Felső -Szilvás moved between hunting for dinosaur bones in Romania and serving as a spy in Ottoman Albania while plotting to be named king of Albania…. Readers learn of beautiful opalised dinosaur bones from Australia and a crested dinosaur found approximately 13,000 feet up Antarctica’s Mt. Kirkpatrick, demonstrating that dinosaurs were widely distributed across the globe. Read the full review.

Publishers Weekly (US)

This history of the discovery of some of the most outlandish creatures that ever lived, and the excitement of paleontological research, will be sure to both entertain and instruct. No other such historical narrative focused on weird extinct beasts exists.

Dr Spencer Lucas, curator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, author of Dinosaurs: The Textbook, Sixth Edition


Praise for Flying Dinosaurs:

A marvellous book. The moment life took to the air – caught in stone!

Professor Tim Flannery, palaeontologist and Chair in Environmental Sustainability at Macquarie University. Tim is a former director of the South Australian Museum.

It was… with genuine surprise that I read the book in your hands, because I was impressed by how many exciting discoveries have been made in the last decade or so, and how much we have learned about the biology of dinosaurs. One area in particular – the origin and diversification of birds – has seen an astounding turnover of productive discovery and research … Thoroughly researched, with new interviews, this is one of the best dinosaur books that has appeared in years.

Philip Currie, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Dinosaur Palaeobiology, University of Alberta.

Dinosaurs aren’t dead. Birds are dinosaurs, an astounding fact brought to life by science writer John Pickrell in his celebration of fossil discovery. From historic debates over how birds evolved from dinosaurian ancestors to how this ancient connection is enlightening our understanding of dinosaur lives, Pickrell adeptly shows readers the Velociraptor hiding inside a chicken.

Brian Switek is National Geographic’s dinosaur blogger. He is the author of My Beloved Brontosaurus and Written in Stone and has been published in Slate, Nature, the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian and Scientific American.

This book recounts the stunning fossil discoveries, the novel ideas, the cutting edge technologies and even the scientific mis-steps that took place while scientists documented the dinosaur-bird link. In very readable prose, with stunning illustrations and the necessary background material, Flying Dinosaurs recounts the cut-and-thrust of one of the most important palaeontological advances of modern time.

Spencer Lucas, Chief Curator, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and author of Dinosaurs: The Textbook.

In Flying Dinosaurs John Pickrell challenges everything you were told about dinosaurs as a child. Far from going extinct when an asteroid hit the Earth 66 million years ago, dinosaurs are all around us; perched in trees, flying through the sky, rustling through your rubbish. The discovery of the red-headed Sinosauropteryx is considered the first solid evidence that modern birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs. If your image of these ancient creatures was influenced by Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction film Jurassic Park, adapted from Michael Crichton’s book, then it’s an idea that might take some getting used to… Through extensive research and interviews with leading palaeontologists, Flying Dinosaurs charts how each new discovery confirmed the link between dinosaurs and birds… The author’s fascination with dinosaurs is evident throughout the book. But his passion aside, it takes a skilled science writer to transform the incremental progress of a field such as palaeontology into a narrative that sustains a book. Read the full review.

Nicky Phillips, Science Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

John Pickrell, whose day job is editing Australian Geographic, has produced a remarkable book, with a wealth of interviews with palaeontologists and a comprehensive catalogue of virtually all the findings of feathered dinosaurs since 1996. It’s a useful catch-up if you have lost track of this rapidly developing area of palaeontology, and full of fascinating, unusual facts – did you know that birds are the closest living relatives to the crocodile?

Bill Condie, Cosmos Magazine

Written by a journalist rather than a scientist, this accessible book presents the current thinking on the evolution of birds. In the process, it removes some long held misconceptions – thanks to the remarkable discoveries of amazing fossil fields in China, and fascinating research being carried out there and elsewhere. It seems many dinosaurs were covered in feathery fuzz rather than scales, that flight as a strategy has been the most successful development of the animal kingdom, that clever science has discovered the colour range of dinosaurs, and that we don’t need to go all Jurassic Park and recreate dinosaurs, as they still exist today in a wonderful array of shapes and abilities today. An entertaining and enlightening read! Read the full review.

Lindy Jones, Abbey’s Booksellers, Sydney

Since the film, Jurassic Park, was released 20 years ago, our understanding of dinosaurs has changed dramatically, thanks to a treasure-trove of incredible fossils that have been and are being unearthed, especially in China. The new (to us) dinosaur fossils provide clear evidence of feathers and moult, hollow bones, beaks, nesting and even warm-bloodedness in 40 or so carnivorous dinosaur species. This book reviews the data that shows dinosaurs are not dead after all; in fact, they are still alive and thriving in our back gardens — in the form of birds. The author even shares some of the findings made by a US group that are trying to resurrect an ancient dinosaur by using molecular biology to “turn on” particular dinosaur traits encoded in the genome of chickens. This engaging book is written by Australian Geographic editor, journalist John Pickrell, and includes a 16 page inset filled with full-colour paintings of a number of dinosaurs — feathered, brightly coloured, yet still fearsome. Read more.

GrrlScientist, blogger, The Guardian