Sunday, 10 December 2006

Lost Worlds of Aotearoa, Dave Gunson, 2005

LOST WORLDS OF AOTEAROA Dave Gunson (text and illustrations), Random House, Auckland, New Zealand, 2005, 48 pages, paperback, NZ$29.95.

When Doris Adams found pseudodontornis fossils near Motunau Beach, it was one of a number of exciting discoveries revealing the rich variety of life in prehistoric New Zealand. Dave Gunson’s portrait of this false-toothed pelican shows it with its hypothetical red plumage and distinctive jagged beak, preening beside a coconut palm as giant penguins come ashore. This is not Canterbury as we know it but it is an exciting introduction to our extinct wildlife.

Double-page colour illustrations in Lost Worlds of Aotearoa show dinosaurs and pterosaurs in their habitats, as well as the New Zealand crocodile, giant crab, raven and adzebill. Haast’s eagle,the moa, huia and laughing owl are also present in their appropriate eras. With its superb pictures, intelligent captions, clear text and colourful diagrams and maps, Dave Gunson’s book is an excellent introduction to our lost past.

Trevor Agnew
First published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on February 19th 2005

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