We live in a wonderful time where any fossil fan has a plethora of options with which to scratch their primeval itch. Paleontology fans and specialists have even broken into the world of podcasts, with several shows averaging thousands or even millions of listeners. These include the TetZoo Podcast, Palaeocast, Palaeo After Dark, and most importantly for today’s review, I Know Dino: The Big Dinosaur Podcast!
Run by dinosaur enthusiasts Garret and Sabrina, this paleontological power couple has recorded nearly 280 episodes of I Know Dino as of this writing. A typical episode starts off with some of the latest news in the world of dinosaur science and pop culture, followed by an interview with a prominent individual who works with dinosaurs in some capacity, and finishes with profile on a featured dinosaur, which until recently also provided the title for each episode. I first started listening perhaps about a hundred episodes ago, and have been trying to catch up on the backlog since! I try to make a regular habit of donating plasma, and the brief respite from the stay-at-home dad life makes for the perfect chance to catch up on all my paleo podcasts, including I Know Dino. (Incidentally, “I Know Dino” is not to be confused with Did You Know Dino?, which is produced by Dinosaur Comics.)
My most recent favorite episode features sauropod specialist Matt Wedel (of SV-POW! fame) and paleoartist Brian Engh discussing the Jurassic Reimagined project they’ve undertaken with fellow paleontologists with ReBecca Hunt-Foster and John Foster. After listening to their thrilling tale of pulling one of the largest known Brachiosaurus bones out of the hinterlands with a team of Clydesdale horses, it occurred to me that Garret & Sabrina might have interesting extras on the I Know Dino website, so I spent some time browsing around. It was then that I noticed that they had published several books (written primarily by Sabrina) in the past few years, covering 10 of the most interesting dinosaur discoveries of the year indicated on the covers. The format consists of short stories narrating a moment in the life of a particular dinosaur, followed by a brief informative profile on the species represented. Their most recent such book, as the title 50 Dinosaur Tales suggests, ups this to a full 50 short stories, with 108 additional brief informational tidbits about other dinosaur species. I reached out to the show’s creators on Twitter, and they were more than happy to send me a copy of their book for review! (I’m flattered to report that they mentioned they were already fans of my blog, too!)
I find the stories generally enjoyable, with evocative prose describing the events and environments the dinosaurs find themselves in. I note a vague similarity to Bob Bakker’s famous novel Raptor Red, in that while it generally keeps a realistic tone, we occasionally get a very lightly anthropomorphized third-person look into the dinosaurs’ inner reactions to their situations. Unlike the “feature length” Raptor Red however, these short stories are very much bite-sized, generally only taking up a few pages each. I feel like the shortness occasionally sacrifices the depth to which the reader can sink into the story, but it does make for an easy read for a busy dad like myself! I appreciate having a book on hand that I can easily pick up and put down without feeling like I’m constantly stopping and starting an ongoing narrative while trying to work in some reading time around the demands of the day.
Garret & Sabrina occasionally feature black & white illustrations when they can find quality pre-existing illustrations of the featured species in a story. It made me smile to see multiple examples of Emily Willoughby‘s gorgeous maniraptorans in this book (which are also a major highlight of the counter-creationist book God’s Word or Human Reason? that I also reviewed recently). You can’t go wrong by sticking with the best!
50 Dinosaur Tales is the perfect book for the dinosaur enthusiast on the go, with it’s engaging, easily digested stories and up-to-date information on fascinating dinosaurs new and old. I recommend it to any fellow dinosaur lovers looking for a light read during whatever quiet moments they can get out of their busy lives! I’m pleased to say that 50 Dinosaur Tales earns my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval.