2 out of 4 stars
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Dig, the Search for Dinosaurs by Stuart Plotkin is a non-fiction book. It is unique since it focuses more on the experience of digging for dinosaurs rather than the bones themselves.
Plotkin never gave up his childhood fascination with dinosaurs. So, in his thirties, he signed up to join his first dig. Throughout the years, he learned a lot on these summer excursions. It was not his primary job, nor is he a famous paleontologist. He simply enjoyed the experiences and wanted to share them with others.
This book consists of several anecdotes and a few facts. He talks about the times when they found amazing collections of bones and successfully retrieved them for museum study. He also talks about the times when things didn’t quite go as planned. There are a few recollections that have more to do with the places he visited and the people he visited them with rather than anything to do with the digs. Throughout the book, he uses technical terms, but he’s careful to explain what everything means. There was never a point where I was unable to follow along. There are also several reference sections available as well as several pictures. In fact, he repeated himself often with his explanations. For example, we learned that MYA stands for “million years ago” several times.
At first, I was enjoying Plotkin’s recollections. He described everything so well that I felt I could have been alongside him for his adventures. This quickly became tedious. Most of these digs occur in the same type of environment: the desert. A few of the stories had nothing to do with searching and digging up dinosaur bones. There was one in particular, “Ghosts from the past,” on page 47 was about a ghost encounter he had in North Dakota. They were not ghosts of dinosaurs or paleontologists, but rather Native Americans. It was so out-of-place, it had me wondering why it was included in the book at all.
While the cover page states this is the second edition of the book, I found an overabundance of errors. The narrative switches frequently between past and present tense, often within the same paragraph. The indentations of paragraphs also change based on what page you’re looking at, though without any real rhyme or reason. When there was a picture, it was hard to tell what text was specifically supposed to describe the picture. Some pictures had no notes at all. In one instance, a sentence seemed to be cut off with a picture, but the sentence didn’t pick up again anywhere. There were other spacing issues, grammatical errors, and repetition.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I took away a star for all the errors. I took another away since I grew bored reading it. Still, it was interesting to learn what happens on these digs. I’ve only ever seen them on TV and movies. Even then, they only show the exciting parts. I would recommend this to those interested in dinosaurs and bone recovery. I would not recommend it to young readers.
Dig, the Search for Dinosaurs
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