Friday 7 September 2018

From Dinosaurs to Diprotodons: Australia’s Amazing Fossils

From Dinosaurs to Diprotodons: Australia’s Amazing Fossils by Danielle Clode (Museums Victoria) PB RRP $24.95 ISBN: 9781921833472

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Thingadonota, diprotodon and fangaroo sound like made-up words. But, they are the names, along with titanosaur and megaraptor – and many others – of gigantic beasts which once roamed Australia. In this strikingly and colourfully designed book for children, Clode, a zoologist and science writer, takes the reader to fossil sites all around the country where incredible creatures once roamed.

The creatures aren’t just land-dwelling, but include ancient whales and deadly dolphins, giant sharks and toothy birds, armoured fish and many others, all with the names of the places they inhabited. So if a reader lives in or has visited Wellington Caves, Lightning Ridge or Canowindra in NSW, or the Torquay Coast and Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Riversleigh, Hughenden, Richmond, Eromanga and Winton in Queensland, they might very well be walking in the steps of ancient animals. Not to mention Alcoota in Northern Territory or Western Australia’s Margaret River.

Using maps and a timeline from PreCambrian to Cainosoic eras, the author shows the evolution of creatures from primitive fish through to reptiles, then dinosaurs (205 million years ago) right through to the emergence of the first hominids and the human genus nearly two million years ago. It is so fascinating!

Photographs and sketches show fossils in situ before exploring the age of Megafauna, large extinct animals from the last ice age. Every double-page spread displays beautifully drawn land and sea creatures, and too there are break-out information boxes with fascinating facts. There is even a direction of how to find the caves at Wellington near Dubbo NSW where Diprotodon once lives. We are told, too, that many of the fossils at Lightning Ridge, NSW, are made of opal

This is the sort of book that dinosaur-mad young scientists would adore and most certainly they would pour over it and retell facts to any adults – or to their peers. Highly recommended.

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