Literature: The New Dinosaurs An Alternative Evolution

A 1988 book, written by Scottish geologist Dougal Dixon about what life on world would be like if the meteor that killed the dinosaurs didn't hit the Earth. The book is a Spiritual Successor to Dougal's previous Speculative Biology book, After Man: A Zoology of the Future, and is presented in a very similar way. However, similar to his previous book, it suffers badly from the progress of science; its dinosaurs and other creatures more fanciful than realistic nowadays (even back in the day they weren't the most accurate dinosaurs). Even so, its illustrations and descriptions are very good, depicting these nonexistent animals as if they were real.

Can be read online here.


This book provides examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew:
    • For some reason, there are Megalosaurus in the present day. In Africa (Megalosaurus went extinct in the Middle Jurassic, - of Europe - long before the dinosaurs died out). Megalosaurus was long used as wastebasket to contain various large theropods from throughout the Mesozoic, but this had mostly been sorted out by then.
    • Also the pliosaurs, which went extinct near the beginning of the Late Cretaceous.
  • Alternate History
  • Artistic License Biology: Similar to Dougal's other work, After Man: A Zoology of the Future.
  • Australian Wildlife: The lifeforms of Australia (and the rest of Oceania) are weird, even by this world's standards. They include pelican dinosaurs, kangaroo dinosaurs, flamingo dinosaurs, koala dinosaurs (you can probably see where we're going with this), and highly venomous, lizard-like dinosaurs.
  • Everything Is Better With Dinosaurs: This is basically the entire reason this book exists.
  • Expy: Many of the book's imaginary animals are really easily seen to be based on real animals. There are giraffe-pterosaurs (even with giraffe colours), penguin-pterosaurs, koala-dinosaurs (yes, they live in Australia), manatee-dinosaurs, pangolin-dinosaurs (called pangaloons), and even naked mole rat-dinosaurs to name a few.
  • Ptero Soarer:
    • The book's pterosaurs are among the worst to ever appear anywhere (even for their time, they were bad), it seems that Dougal basically just said "screw it" and gave the pterosaurs any features he thought were cool, but couldn't be given to dinosaurs. American paleontologist Greg Paul even called him out on this.
    • Although it should be noted, that at the time pterosaur science was in its infancy (little is still known about them).
  • Raptor Attack: On the bright side, it is probably the first piece of media to depict them with down.
  • Science Marches On:
    • Even at the time, some of the depictions of dinosaurs were sketchy at best, but nowadays they are all completely outdated.
    • There's also the issue of Dixon's cladograms being rather out of date, even for their time (things like the coelurosaur-carnosaur dichotomy of theropod classification and pachycephalosaurs as ornithopods had been disproven by then).
    • Dixon mentions the stegosaur family as casualties of the most recent Ice Age; in reality stegosaurs are now believed to have died off in the Early Cretaceous, well before the end of the Mesozoic era, and the supposed Late Cretaceous stegosaurs have been discredited.
    • On the bright side it was one of the first media to depict dinosaurs with filamentous integumentary structures (because at the time adding covering to dinosaurs was highly controversial, but being speculative, this book didn't need to worry about such things), unfortunately they call it fur.
    • Oddly enough, some of the concepts originally thought to be implausible or ridiculous at the time of the book's publication have been partially supported by later paleontological finds- including long-legged running pterosaurs, insularly dwarfed dinosaurs, and even brightly-coloured tree-climbing theropods.
  • Speculative Documentary: One of the most famous examples.