Prehistoric Pets


By Dr Dean Lomax and illustrated by Mike Love

This is a lovely little book and something of a departure for Dr Dean Lomax, who these days is more often seen up to his elbows in ichthyosaur remains. He has certainly come on a bit since I helped edit his first article for Deposits magazine, having completed his doctorate, and received awards and accolades worldwide for his notable academic work.

However, this fun little book is rather different. Dean (and ably helped by the artwork of Mike Love) has created a full-colour popup book covering the ancestors of many of our favourite pets.

As it asks:

Have you ever wondered what your guinea pig’s great, great, great, great, great, GREAT grandparents looked like?”

Well, the answer is probably much like Josephoartigasia monesi, a one-tonne giant, prehistoric rodent, about the size and weight of a bull, living between two and four million years ago in Uruguay. And, after reading an introduction to guinea pigs, the fearsome beast pops up to delight any kid who likes to shock his mother with the thought of large rats.

And so it goes on for budgerigars (Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame, notwithstanding its Cretaceous age), goldfish (Leedsichthys, the massive fish from the Oxford Clay of the Jurassic), cats (Smilodon, a sabre-toothed cat of a mere 10,000 years ago) and so on – each small and cuddly pet being matched with a titan of the geological past. More particularly, Dean takes a look at seven favourite pets and, using fossil clues, he reveals their prehistoric ancestors.

These are illustrated with Mike Love’s bright and colourful, pop-up artwork, along with humour and facts to entertain and educate kids and their parents alike. For this reason, it Prehistoric Pets a great idea for a Christmas or birthday present for children aged three years and older (and it is certainly not appropriate for young children but may be better suited to children aged 4+).

Dr Dean Lomax is a presenter and author, and has travelled the world excavating dinosaurs. He has described several new species of prehistoric marine reptiles; and is a Visiting Scientist at the University of Manchester and patron of the UK Association of Fossil Hunters (UKAFH). He is also passionate about communicating palaeontology to the public and has presented on TV, including ITV’s Dinosaur Britain.

Mike Love is an illustrator who has worked with major publishers, such as Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Orion and the OUP. He has a degree in Fine Art from the University of Aberystwyth, and seems to love working with imagination and narrative as his guides.

Prehistoric Pets, by Dr Dean Lomax and illustrated by Mike Love, Bonnier Books UK, Sweden (2020), 16 pages (hardback), ISBN-13: 9781787415331

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