If it feels like we’ve covered this one here already before, that’s because we kinda have! When Fish Got Feet, Bugs Were Big, and Dinos Dawned compiles each book in Hannah Bonner’s “When” series into one convenient volume, which I have reviewed individually here before. This book includes a few minor updates, as well as several pages of bonus content. Given that I’ve examined much of this content before, I’ll keep things short and mostly stick to the changes for this review. If you would like more detailed looks into the three chapters/books, I recommend checking out my coverage of When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm, When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth, and When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight. (Honestly, I think one of the main reasons I appreciate the compilation volume is so that I only have to write out ONE of those long titles when I recommend this series to others!) I also recommend her other prehistory book that is not a part of this series, Dining With Dinosaurs, which takes a look at ancient food webs.
While each book gets at least some some minor changes, the most notable appear in Part 2, where Megarachne’s older, spider-like appearance (also seen in Paleo Bugs) gets swapped for its modern interpretation as a sea scorpion. A Devonian reef illustration on the next page also gets replaced by a much more evocative illustration of a pair of Tully Monsters in the murky shallows of their native paleoenvironment. I didn’t notice much change to Part 1, other than adding in the now completely known hind limbs of Tiktaalik. Part 3 disappointingly removes a page on animals that survived the End Permian extinction, reproducing a small portion of it in the appendix. I suppose the author felt was redundant after touching on some aspects of it at the end of Part 2, but which I’m sure Lystrosaurus stans and THE BIG DIE fans will miss it.
The largest addition, however, comes at the end of the compilation volume, with an extended appendix with extra details and activities themed around the book’s contents. Here you can find information on the ongoing question of turtle origins, as well as explanations of a couple of the book’s updates. Most of this section is dedicated to the activities, however. Craft ideas, paleoart tips, a print-out Earth history board game, and some truly insightful discussion questions really increase the value of this book, especially for those looking to use it in a school context. I particularly liked the one about how we determine what categories living organisms belong in, as well as the speculative evolution thought experiment about what the extinct creatures seen in the book might look like if they had continued evolving into modern times. I should note that the internet link as printed in the book does not seem to lead to the print-out board game anymore, but it can still be found if you search for Evolve or Perish on the Smithsonian Museum website.
I highly recommend When Fish Got Feet, Bugs Were Big, and Dinos Dawned. It has all the strengths of the individual books in Hannah Bonner’s trilogy, along with the added value of updated information and interesting activities, all packaged into one, convenient, soft cover volume. While primarily aimed at older kids, I’m sure paleontology enthusiasts of any age will enjoy it. As each of its predecessors has already earned it, I should come as no surprise I award this one my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval as well. It’s an absolute must-have for anyone’s prehistory collection! If you’d like more Hannah Bonner content, give Dining With Dinosaurs a look, and again, if you’d like more details on the individual sections, check out my reviews of When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm, When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth, and When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight.