As in any field of science, ideas are changing all the time as new discoveries are made. Most books and movies made for the general public are made by non-experts and make numerous serious mistakes. Even if they are accurate at the time they are made, it does not mean that scientists believe that now. Check to see what references are listed, how old the book is and does it agree with other sources. If you have a question, consult an expert, most of whom are happy to answer questions and point you to accurate sources. If you would like to have anything reviewed, please contact me. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Best Evolution Textbook: The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution (2nd ed.) by Carl Zimmer. Roberts and Company Publishers. 2013. See full review here.
Virus and the Whale: Exploring Evolution in Creatures Great and Small, ed. by Judy Diamond, Carl Zimmer, E. Margeret Evans, Linda Allison, and Sarah Disbrow. NSTA Press, 2014.
Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle, by Douglas Enmen. Holt and Co. 2014.
Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution, by Jonathan Tweet. 2016.
Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body, by Neil Shubin. Ballantine Books. 2008.
Evolution: The Whole Story, ed. by Steve Parker. Firefly Press. 2015.
Ecology and Evolution of Cancer, ed. by Beata Ujvari, Benjamin Roche, and Frederic Thomas. Academic Press. 2017.
Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution by Jonathan B. Losos. Riverhead Books. 2017.
The Arc of Life: Evolution and Health Across the Life Course, ed. by Diana S. Sherry, Grazyna Jasienska, and Donna J. Holmes. Springer. 2017.
The Skeleton Revealed: An Illustrated Tour of the Vertebrates by Steve Huskey. Johns Hopkins University Press. 2017. Not really an evolution book, but a fascinating book on the diversity of vertebrate skeletons.
Evolution’s Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet and Human Origins by Peter Ungar. Princeton University Press. 2017.
The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World beneath Our Feet by Anthony J. Martin. Pegasus Books. 2017.
Biochemical Adaptation: Response to Environmental Challenges from Life’s Origins to the Anthropocene by George Somero, Brent Lockwood, and Lars Tomanek. Oxford University Press. 2017. Textbook, for the serious student.
Body by Darwin: How Evolution Shapes Our Health and Transforms Medicine by Jeremy Taylor. University of Chicago Press. 2015.
Good Paleontology Books
For ages 4-8
Boy Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs by Kathleen Kudlinski. 2008. How our views on dinosaurs have changed over the centuries.
I Like Science: Discovering Dinosaurs with a Fossil Hunter by Judith Williams. Enslow Publishers. 2004.
Dino Dung by Dr. Karen Chin and Thom Holmes A Step Into Reading book by Random House Books for Young Readers. 2005.
Dinosaur Hunters by Kate McMullan, A Step Into Reading book by Random House Books for Young Readers. 2005.
T. rex: Hunter or Scavenger? by Dr. Thomas Holtz, Jr. A Step into Reading book by Random House Books for Young Readers. 2003.
The Big Golden book of Dinosaurs by Robert Bakker. Randomhouse. 2013. See full review here.
Scaly, Spotted, Feathered, Frilled by Catherine Thimmesh. Houfton Mifflin. 2013. See full review here.
Dinosaurs Life Size by Darren Naish. Barron’s Educational Series. 2010. Decent book for kids, but with reservations. See the full review here.
Digging Up Dinosaurs and Fossils Tell of Long Ago by Aliki Brandenberg. Aliki wrote several books about dinosaurs in the 1980s for kids at the upper end of this age group. They are dated in some aspects, but have much to recommend them. See the full reviews for these books and two others here and here.
Feathered Dinosaurs by Brenda Guiberson. Holt and Company. 2016. Provides a modern view of the dinosaurs leading up to birds.
Dining with Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching by Hannah Bonner. National Geographic Children’s Books. 2016.
Prehistoric Predators by Brian Switek. Applesaurce Press (Simon & Schuster). 2015.
The T. rex Handbook by Brian Switek. Applesaurce Press (Simon & Schuster). 2016.
She Found Fossils by Maria Gold and Abegael West. Createspace Independent Publisher Platform. 2017. Highlights important women in paleontology.
Daring to Dig: Adventures of Women in American Paleontology by Beth Stricker. Paleontological Research Institution. 2017.
For older kids
Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages by Dr. Thomas Holtz. Random House Books for Young Readers. 2007. This tome is probably the best book for young dino lovers out there. Written by one the world’s leading experts and illustrated by one of the best paleo-artists, this book is excellent for both its information on dinosaurs and its information on how dinosaur science is done. See full review here.
Dinosaur Odyssey by Scott Sampson. 2009. A wonderful book explaining numerous aspects of ecology and evolution using dinosaurs as his exemplars. Probably the best book for putting everything in context. For older readers. See full review here.
The Dinosaur Library Series, vol. 1-6 by Thom and Laurie Holmes. Enslow Publishers. 2001-2003. Excellent series for young readers with references.
Extreme Dinosaurs by Luis Rey. Chronicle Books. 2001. Great dinosaur artwork.
Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart edited by Steve White. 2012.
Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond Bare-Bones Fossils by Kelly Milner Halls. Darby Creek Publishing. 2003.
Prehistoric Life DK Press. 2009. Huge, lavishly illustrated book showing numerous fossils and reconstructions from the beginning of life through the origins of man.
New Dinos by Shelley Tanaka. Scholastic. 2003. Overall a good book and showcases a lot of new ideas at the time. However, there are a few inaccuracies. T. rex brains were somewhat bigger than presented and the olfactory lobes, while large, were not nearly as large as grapefruit. Few researchers accept the dino “heart” anymore. Both of these interpretations have been largely or completely discredited by further research.
Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs: An Expedition to Madagascar by Nic Bishop. Houghton-Mifflin. 2000. A good book for elementary and middle schools. See full review here.
Fossil Insects, An Introduction to Palaeoentomology by Dr. David Penney and James E. Jepson. Siri Scientific Press. 2014. The most accurate artistic reconstructions of seven different time periods to date, focusing on the insects.
The Griffin and the Dinosaur: How Adrienne Mayor Discovered a Fascinating Link Between Myth and Science by Marc Aronson. 2014. Great book for kids in grades 4-8 showing how Mayor found out how some of the ancient Greek and Roman myths were attempts to explain strange dinosaur bones. Wonderful cross-disciplinary study. Read the full review here.
The Natural History Museum Book of Dinosaurs by Tim Gardom and Angela Milner. 2006. Read all about the dinosaurs of the London Museum of Natural History by the people who who them best. Read the full review here.
Beasts of Antiquity: Stem-birds in the Solnhofen Limestone by Matthew Martyniuk. 2015. About the flying reptiles and most famous of the earliest birds.Read more about it here.
Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils by Anthony Martin. 2014. What we know about dinosaur lives through fossils other than their bones as revealed by the stories of the paleontologists studying them.
Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved by Darren Naish and Paul Barrett. Natural History Museum of London/Smithsonian. 2016.
Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara. Simon & Schuster. 2017.
Make-A-Saurus: My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs by Brian Cooley. Annick Press. 2000. If you want to learn how to draw and sculpt dinosaurs, this is the book for you.
The Bare Bones: An Unconventional Evolutionary History of the Skeleton by Matthew Bonnan. Indiana University Press. 2016. This one would be good for high school biology students.
For Serious Students, Adults, and Reference
The Dinosauria, 2nd ed. edited by
The Complete Dinosaur, 2nd ed. edited by Michael Brett-Surman, Thomas Holtz, and James Farlow. 2012. Both broader in scope and more up to date than The Dinosauria, it is the book for the serious dino enthusiast. There are a couple of chapters that are not good, but they are few and far between mostly excellent chapters. Even the bad ones serve to illustrate minority views within the field.
Dinosaur Paleobiology by Stephen Brusatte. 2012. Summarizes current research in dinosaur research up to that point.
The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: the Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs by David Hone. 2016. Everything you wanted to know about tyrannosaurs. This might be suitable for older kids as well, as it was written for the general public, although I expect it will be useful as a reference for nonspecialists too.
The Sauropod Dinosaurs: Life in the Age of Giants by Mark Hallett and Matthew Wedel. 2016. Everything you wanted to know about sauropods, but without being as technical as some previous sauropod specific books.
Acrocanthosaurus Inside and Out by Kenneth Carpenter. 2016. As the only large carnivorous dinosaur known to have lived in Arkansas, this is a must have book for those interested in Arkansas dinosaurs.
Resurrecting the Shark: A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil by Susan Ewing. Pegasus Books. 2017.
The Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals by Donald Prothero. Princeton Field Guides. Princeton University Press. 2016.
Horned Armadillos and Rafting Monkeys by Darin Croft. Indiana University Press. 2017. Review by Darren Naish here.
All tv shows take creative license with the facts, but some less so than others. Always pay more attention to the actual paleontologists in the shows than the announcers.
COSMOS. Either the 1980 version with Carl Sagan or the 2014 version with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Both are excellent.
“Walking with Dinosaurs” BBC Warner. 2000. This collection and the other sets in the “Walking With…” series is quite good, but it is flawed in that it does not distinguish between known fact and speculation. Fortunately, the books, Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence, by Dr. David Martill and Darren Naish and Walking with Dinosaurs: The Facts, by Dr. Michael Benton, both by BBC Books, 2000, admirably fill this gap. It also has violent scenes which may disturb young viewers. The Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs series has some good parts, but has some more serious flaws. It is more speculative and they made several errors, such as calling synapsids “mammal-like reptiles”, an old name that is no longer used because, while they are close to the branch between mammals and reptiles, they are in fact on the side that became mammals, not on the side that became modern reptiles. So if they are going to be given any sort of nickname, it should be reptile-like protomammal, not the other way around.
“Prehistoric Planet” BBC Warner. 2002. “Walking with Dinosaurs” reworked for younger audiences.
“Prehistoric” Discovery Channel, 2010. Excellent series which takes one city in each episode and follows it through 600 million years.
“When Dinosaurs Roamed America” and “Dinosaur Planet” Discovery Channel. 2001, 2003. This series includes interviews with paleontologists in addition to the nature show aspect.
“Arctic Dinosaurs” NOVA, PBS. 2009. More traditional documentary style, provides a look at dinosaurs in an area not traditionally thought of as dinosaur friendly.
“Prehistoric Predators” National Geographic Channel. 2008. Each episode looks at the evolution and ecological interactions of one large Ice Age predator.
“Inside Nature’s Giants” 2009 to 2012. Not dinosaur, but excellent series. It is graphic and may disturb some viewers as they dissect large animals to examine how they have evolved to fit their habitat. No animal was killed for the express purpose of the show.
The Carnegie Series (also put out as Safari, Ltd.) sets the standard for most accurate toy models for all things prehistoric. they aren’t all good, though. Some of the earlier models still have the bipedal dinosaurs standing up too straight. They also have several models of Spinosaurus, some of which are good, but model #411001 is terrible and should be avoided. This series for the most part manages to avoid the “bunny hands” (hands held forward, palms down, which dinosaurs could not do without breaking their wrists) seen so often in most dinosaur models, but can still occasionally be seen.