Old bone shakers

28th October 1994 at 00:00
65 million years pc, Software for IBM compatible, requiring 386 PC with 256 colour VGA graphics. Pounds 24.99. From the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7. This smartly presented electronic A-Z of dinosaurs is packed with facts and a tempting souvenir of any visit to the Natural History museum.

You might browse through the index and go straight to a Heterodontosaurus or any creature of your choice. You'll see how it looked, and find out what its name means.

You can click on Statistics and find out how it fed, when it lived, when it was discovered and by whom. Or you can click on Text and read about bones, extinction, meteorites, volcanoes and more. Here you might learn how scientists use bone structure to work out that some of these strange creatures were warm-blooded when young and cold blooded when older.

There is plenty here and it is well illustrated and well written. An enthusiastic 10-year-old could handle it. With the large print text even younger ones will get something from it too.

Sadly, you can't do anything with it but check out facts. So you can't select the creatures that have things in common. You can't follow your interest using cross-references, or even use the pictures for your own work or play. The result, then, is as dry as a dinosaur's biscuit. Only a multiple choice quiz saves it from total extinction.

Coming from the Natural History museum, the information is unchallengeable, though the point of putting it on the computer has missed me. If you are ever in the museum shop, I'd recommend a colourful book instead.

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