Prehistoric Life in the National Parks (Coloring book)

I spend a lot of my free time browsing various prehistoric enthusiast groups on social media, which was where I noticed park ranger Vincent L. Santucci sharing previews of the new Prehistoric Life in the National Parks coloring book. Having already reviewed Diane Ramic’s Coloring Book of (Scientifically Accurate) Paleofauna, as well as some other assorted coloring pages I’d come across, I was keen to add some more to my collection. After chatting for a bit, Vincent offered to send me a physical copy to review, and so here we are! (Vincent L. Santucci is listed as lead author of the book, among several other collaborators.)

My rendition of Ehmania, a trilobite which can be found in Yellowstone National Park.

The Prehistoric Life in the National Parks coloring book includes a wide assortment of prehistoric life from many different U.S. national parks, from popular destinations like the Grand Canyon to the now-defunct Fossil Cycad National Monument of South Dakota (Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway, the predecessor to Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline, has a brief overview of this long decommissioned public space). The featured species make for a similarly broad overview of the tree of life, from the famous Stegosaurus to the obscure and seemingly boring Collenia.

Speaking of which, I started off coloring the first illustration in the book: the aforementioned Precambrian stromatolite Collenia symmetrica, a common sight in Glacier National Park which was featured in the first episode of Prehistoric Road Trip. I wanted to make it a little more interesting, but I… got a little too creative with the colors, and I doubt I will manage to finish this one anytime soon! I decided to move on to more familiar creatures instead.

The Precambrian stromatolites of Glacier National Park, Montana (also seen in Prehistoric Road Trip!).

In addition to the pages included in the main coloring book, prospective artists can also download 10 additional pages to print out from the official webpage. I gave my boys a few, and saved the nautiloid Mcqueenoceras for myself. Spot the reference!

My rendition of Mcqueenoceras, with my coloration based on a certain other famous McQueen. I’m a dad of boys, so sue me.

Each of the various creatures are expertly sketched, and even the simplest designs look just about perfect to my eyes. In terms of , most of the invertebrates are more detailed, while most of the vertebrates are somewhat simpler. This means the more popular animals tend to be the easiest to color (if you are aiming for precision, that is!), allowing the book to appeal to a wide age range, from older enthusiasts like myself, right on down to my three-year-old. (He doesn’t care about precision so much!)

My youngest, illustrating Apatosaurus & Stegosaurus from the book, and Agujaceratops & uhhh…… Ekgmowechashala from the downloadable collection. (That’s the actual name of this bushbaby-like primate; I promise I’m not having a seizure! You can learn a little more about it from Amy Atwater in Episode 3 of the Paleo Nerds podcast.)

My boys and I have enjoyed working on Prehistoric Life in the National Parks coloring book. With excellently produced coloring pages representing a wide range of species (along with their home National Parks) tailored for a wide range of skill levels, this coloring book appeals to fossil enthusiasts of all ages. If you would like to get yourself a copy, physical editions are available at most national park gift shops, and you can download printable versions of the full book as well as the 10 bonus pages from the offical website. I recommend it to just about anyone, and happily award it my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval!

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