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: The book starts with the premise that the dinosaurs never went extinct.
  • Artistic License Biology: Similar to Dougal's other work, After Man: A Zoology of the Future.
  • 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.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The Kraken is portrayed as a gigantic-sized descendant of Ammonites with a large shell that is usually seen from the water surface, often serving as a perching spot for birds and pterosaurs. While it doesn't target human ships, it's still a free-drifting predator that uses its long, skinny tentacles as a trap for anything it can eat, from microscopic food particles to fishes and even plesiosaurs.
  • 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.
  • Scary Teeth: The Cutlasstooth, seen in the book's cover, a bipedal, pack-hunting monstrosity with a head reminiscent of a Dunkleosteus. There's a good reason it earned that name.
  • Speculative Biology: One of the most famous examples.
  • Stock Animal Behavior: There's a species of plesiosaur that specializes in snatching pterosaurs out of the sky.