University of Alberta Press

Book details

Publication date: February 2007
Features: Colour photographs, map, index
Keywords: Palaeontology;Dinosaurs
Subject(s): JUVENILE NONFICTION / Science & Nature / Fossils, Palaeontology;Dinosaurs, NATURE / Animals / Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures, Paleontology, Natural History, Alberta History
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology/Alberta Community Development

John Acorn. John Acorn is a writer, broadcaster, and biologist. In 2008, he received NSERC's Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion. He lives in Edmonton with his wife Dena and sons Jesse and Ben.

"It is a fact that Edmontosaurus was once one of the most common dinosaurs ever to stomp across North America. But neither that particular monster nor its armour-plated cousin, Edmontonia, actually derives its name from the city of the giant mall.... Thanks to broadcaster and biologist John Acorn, we can all make these sorts of fine paleontological distinctions the next time the dinner conversation lags." Richard Helm, Edmonton Journal, March 16, 2007

"Every page has a photo, so even those who don't read Acorn's witticisms will enjoy looking at pictures of dinosaurs great and small. Acorn tells anecdotes about the people who love dinosaurs as much as he does.... Acorn's way of telling a story will turn some young dinosaur enthusiasts into the kinds of paleontologists who will also become excited by multituberculates and saxonellas." Susan Jones, St. Albert Gazette, March 28, 2007

"After reading Deep's hard not to come away with a new appreciation for the depth and complexity of Alberta's buried or deep history. Acorn, a biologist, naturalist, writer and dinosaur hunter, based Deep Alberta on his former radio series of the same name broadcast on CKUA Radio. As a result, he uses a straightforward, easy-reading writing style, while providing lots of interesting facts.... Acorn keeps it fresh and interesting as he turns over 80 significant stones, creating a broad picture in Alberta's palaeontological history in the process, that includes extinct mammals such as mammoths, living fossil fish, insects entombed in amber and fossil frogs.... [Deep Alberta] is an attractive, informative and fun book, and one which dinosaur fanatics of all ages can easily devour like their favourite raptor." Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook, March 29, 2007

"This excellent book by John Acorn delves into Alberta past in a work that is a feast for the eyes and a challenge for the mind. The book covers everything one can imagine. [Along with dinosaurs,] there are insects trapped in amber, flying reptiles, fish, the wooly Mammoth, camels, and even a variety of lion. Most are accompanied by stunning photographs of the fossils themselves. If you are interested in dinosaurs, you will like this book." Alberta History, Spring 2007

"Children and adolescents, plus their parents, will enjoy Deep Alberta. It is written with flair and an enthusiasm for the subject that is most engaging. The text is magnificently illustrated with one illustration for each chapter. Most are in colour. As one would expect in such a book, a good number are of fossils. One chapter has an excellent map showing the geology of Alberta. There are a number of teaching aids, including an index, a glossary, and an excellent list of references. An added feature, Key Figures in Alberta Palaeontology, gives brief biographies of the leading figures in the discipline. The organization of the book and the addition of the teaching aids make Deep Alberta suitable for classroom use....Highly Recommended." Thomas F. Chambers, CM Magazine, May 2007. (Full review at

"A few years ago I discovered that if I put a John Acorn book in an obvious place in my living room, it almost always got picked up and read by other members of my family..." Susan Jones, St. Albert Gazette, May 16, 2007

"...Acorn has gone to great lengths to cover the whole range of fossil research in the province. Acorn's readers will find out about Tyrannosaurus rex, of course, but also about the far more recent ancient camels and cheetahs that roamed the province a mere (in paleontological terms) 10,000 years ago. They'll also learn about the important, though unglamorous, research into the fossil records of ancient plants and pollen, and about the study of the track marks of ancient shrimps and worms. Deep Alberta includes entries on some of the most eminent fossil hunters and researchers of Alberta.... There's also a detailed map showing the geological areas of Alberta..." Alex Rettie, AlbertaViews, June 2007

"There's enough science in Deep Alberta to make this a serious book for young readers who want to go beyond the basic on prehistoric life. Acorn's lively prose style-probably stemming from the book's radio-show origins-keeps all the hard, empirical information from being too dry. As well, much of the writing focuses on what might be termed the human angle-descriptions of the scientists who discovered important aspects of Alberta's prehistoric life, and tales of how they did it. What's more, the book shines in its graphic elements, with an excellent introductory map to chronicle the province's various prehistoric eras, and a thorough series of photos and illustrations depicting the various skeletons and locations that Acorn describes." Paul Challen, Quill & Quire, June 2007

"A writer, broadcaster, and biologist based in Edmonton, Acorn presented a radio series on the palaeontology of the prairie province beginning in 2005. From the 80 programs, he has chosen topics that he felt would make an interesting book about the dinosaur legacy, the recent Ice Age, and other prehistoric periods, as well as the people and institutions that have investigated them. He also got to use all those great color photographs of landscapes and reconstructed skeletons that did not go over so well on radio. Distributed in the US by Michigan State University Press." Book News Inc.

"Written by broadcaster and biologist John Acorn, Deep Alberta: Fossil Facts and Dinosaur Digs is an amazing glimpse into the dinosaur fossil legacy resting beneath the surface of Alberta, Canada. Based on the CKUA Radio series 'Deep Alberta', and prepared in collaboration with palaeontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum and elsewhere, Deep Alberta combines lively text with eye-catching full colour photography on virtually every other page, from panoramic scenes of where fossils are found to unearthed bones and imagined reconstructions of prehistoric creatures....A lavishly gorgeous and inspirational treat for dinosaur and fossil lovers of all walks of life to page through." Library Bookwatch, July 2007

"History book, science book, and bedtime storybook all in one! For its size, Deep Alberta is a book that would appeal to many readers on several levels. The range of topics covered in this concise format is broad, encompassing geography, biology, and geology as well.... In addition to bringing to life the animals themselves through renderings of the dinosaurs and photos of the bones, the author also pictures some of the scientists, both the historical and the present-day, people who may not enjoy celebrity in popular circles, but whose work has contributed much to our understanding of prehistoric life.... The photographs and illustrations in the book help immensely in putting the fossils and where they have been uncovered in context, especially for someone who's never visited Alberta. Photos of dig sites give a good depiction of the kinds of terrain where fossils might be found, and in fact, one page is devoted to the topic 'How Do You Know Where to Dig.' Acorn's narrative humor shines through even in the written format." Beth Burke, BookPleasures. (Full review at

"In choosing these subjects, Acorn has tried to reflect not only the composition of the fossil record, but also the interests and discoveries of palaeontological researchers in Alberta, not just at the Royal Tyrell Museum, but from around the province wherever such discoveries are made. He was also keen to pay homage to the early fossil hunters forever associated with many of the extinct plants and animals. Those without a formal background in palaeontology will find in Deep Alberta some interesting insights into the inner workings of this fascinating discipline. With an interesting tale to tell, Deep Alberta deserves a place on every bookshelf.", full review at www.

"Acorn, a native Albertan, offers a series of single-page essays, each with its own full-page illustration. He features 80 of the most noteworthy fossils, their locations, and fossil hunters, all from Alberta, Canada.... This will be a fine addition to the museum gift shop market..." P.K.Strother, Boston College, Choice, September 2007

"Written by broadcaster and biologist John Acorn, Deep Alberta: Fossil Facts and Dinosaur Digs is an amazing glimpse into the dinosaur fossil legacy resting beneath the surface of Alberta, Canada.... A lavishly gorgeous and inspirational treat for dinosaur and fossil lovers of all walks of life to page through." Midwest Book Review

"We tend to rate smarter animals, like crows and naturalists, by their degree of behavioral versatility. If polymathic interest correlates with intellect, John Acorn is a very bright naturalist indeed.... Photographs of fossil specimens are among the best representations I have seen of them, and reprintings of other figures are often better than in their original publications. The high production values extend to Acorn's writing. Breezy, conversational humor makes the profundity of geologic time, biological complexity, and dinosaurian terror go down easily.... So is Acorn a particularly bright naturalist? Alberta paleontologists at least owe him an oblique intellectual debt, with his discovery of a specimen Troodon, regarded as among the brainiest dinosaurs. With Deep Alberta, we owe him for communicating to the laity a broad, engaging, yet subtly sophisticated introduction to our field." Eric Snively, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Great Plains Research, Fall 2007

"Deep Alberta combines lively text with eye-catching full colour photography on virtually every other page, from panoramic scenes of where fossils are found to unearthed bones and imagined reconstructions of prehistoric creatures.... A lavishly gorgeous and inspirational treat for dinosaur and fossil lovers of all walks of life to page through." The Internet Bookwatch, July 1, 2007

"Even though the fossils and dinosaur digs are in Alberta, readers of all ages and from all places easily learn about various creatures living long ago through the eyes of a paleontologist, through the interesting and clear text and the marvelous photos. Eighty of the most noteworthy fossils and fossil digs are featured, and include dinosaurs, fish, venomous mammals and smaller creatures. The author's writing and presentation quickly engrosses the reader making this a treasure trove for fossil lovers. This author was able to make a specialty book into a book everyone can enjoy...." Gay Ann Loesch, Teacher-Librarian, Mint Hill, NC

"Despite these efforts, and the bountiful treasures collected and studied, it wasn't until the late 1960s that the Province of Alberta, host of the majority of these activities, was able to begin to take control of its own paleontological resources. What followed was a slow eruption of discovery, research, tourism and marketing savvy. John Acorn's Deep Alberta skims the surface of all that is sexy in paleontology in Alberta. And as most will see, there is a lot to witness. Deep Alberta is designed similarly to a field-guide. Since the discovery by Joseph B. Tyrrell (1858-1957) over a century ago of an Albertosaurus jaw, later culminating with erection of a provincial museum specifically dedicated to paleontology (The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology) and the designation of Dinosaur Provincial Park as a World Heritage Site, the Province of Alberta has ample reason to show off its fossil resources. Acorn's Deep Alberta is a primer of a primer, a very first introduction to this wealth. Acorn has much to choose from in his summation of paleontology of Alberta." Tim T. Tokaryk, The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 2006

"There are many possible ways to write about such a diverse regional paleontological heritage. However, a book based on the radio series Deep Alberta can be judged as unexpected! How does this unusual book composed by Acorn and supported by the Royal Tyrrell Museum look like? The brief Introduction is followed by 80 equal-sized, one page stories placed in alphabetical order.... Most of them are addressed to particular fossils, namely dinosaurs, other amphibians and reptiles (snakes, frogs, salamanders, turtles), fishes, extinct mammals...and plants. Less attention is paid to insects, invertebrates...and trace fossils.... References are performed according to the common rules of professional journals. Not only some general (and popular) books are mentioned, but also very specific articles. This section strengthens a professional background of this book. Further, biosketches for 14 specialists, proclaimed as 'Key figures in Alberta paleontology' are given.... The book is oriented for a very broad audience, including non-specialists. Undoubtedly, they will read it with great pleasure. However, professionals will also find this book enjoyable. On one hand, it contains a lot [of] very intriguing facts, whose importance is not diminished by a popular style. Some very new information is considered.... Conclusively, the book is well-done and the reviewer recommends it strongly for both nature amateurs as well as professional paleontologists and geologists." D.A. Ruban, Zentralblatt Für Geologie und Palàontologie, August 2008

"John Acorn, a.k.a. the Nature Nut, is better known for his work in entomology than in paleontology. In 2005, the Royal Tyrrell Museum and CKUA Radio approached Acorn to do a radio series on Alberta's paleontology. This book is based on the 80 scripts created for that series. In Acorn's words 'Deep Alberta is the prehistoric heritage that places our province in context in what geologists and palaeontologists call deep time.' Acorn hopes that readers 'without a formal background in palaeontology will find here some interesting insights into the inner workings of this fascinating discipline.' The illustrations are excellent. They are clear, sharp, and have good colour quality. All are educational, often with insets or highlights to help make a point obvious. As usual, Acorn engages his readers with questions and informal, chatty commentary. 'But Alberta has a T.rex with a nickname, the Black Beauty. I know-that's also a horse's name, but hey, it works for me.' His commentaries are light and highly informative. 'You may have heard the shocking news that there were lions in Alberta when the first people appeared, but did you also know about the cheetahs?' This is Acorn in fine form, making science fun and comprehensible to the average person. Public and school libraries will want to acquire this excellent volume. Sandy Campbell, University of Alberta Science and Technology Library

ISBNs: 9780888644817 978-0-88864-481-7 Title: deep alberta