Every kid seems to go through a crazy-for-dinosaurs stage. If your kids have reached that age – or if you've never outgrown it yourself – you'll want to pick up National Geographic's Ultimate Dinopedia iPad app. This visually stunning app puts the world of dinosaurs right at your fingertips.
You can purchase Ultimate Dinopedia from Apple's App Store for $5.99. For that price, you get to feast on a cornucopia of knowledge on more than 700 different kinds of dinosaurs. As you'd expect of an iPad app, particularly one aimed at children, Dinopedia makes excellent use of the device's interactive and multimedia nature, using text, art, video and audio to tell the story.
The app lets users approach the world of dinosaurs from a number of different directions. You can start with the section on discovering dinosaurs to learn what makes dinosaurs unique, where and how they lived (including how they cared for their young), and more. You can even learn about famous dinosaur hunters and finds here.
Of course, it's the dinos themselves that are the stars of this app, and boy does it deliver! Not only do you get full-screen paintings of each dino, but in some cases you get a nice, though not state-of-the-art, video of the dinosaur in action. You can touch tabs at the bottom of the dino illustration to get stats on the dinosaur; a short story about the beast, with audio; a "fun fact;" and more. The stats you'll learn include what its name means, when it lived, where its fossils have been found, and its size.
The stories can give you a sense of how the creatures lived and managed to survive in their time. For example, the story for Pachycphalosaurus talks about its good 3D vision and how fast it was for its time. With names like these, you'll be glad to know that you can tap the top of the screen to get a title bar with a phonetic pronunciation of the beast's name.
So how do you find these dinos in the app? Go to the app's home page, which features a mighty T-Rex, and you'll be offered several options. You can go to the table of contents, access dinosaur family trees, check out some quick profiles and get a list of videos. If you choose the first option, don't expect a conventional table of contents. You'll get a series of thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, which you navigate by sliding your finger over them. Tap a particular thumbnail to go to the area of the app it represents.
The application can only be viewed in portrait mode, which is a little disappointing when you're using the interactive dinosaur family tree. Choose to view all dinosaurs, just plant eaters, or just meat eaters; tap a branch of the tree to learn more about that particular class of dinosaur.
If you know the exact name of the beast you want to look up, go to the dino profiles section for an alphabetical index. You can poke the sound icon by the dinosaur's name to hear it pronounced, and you can quickly screen information about the beast before going to its main entry.
In short, Ultimate Dinopedia puts an encyclopedia of dinosaurs at your fingertips, backed by the knowledge of National Geographic and the multimedia might of Apple's iPad. For young dino fans and curious dino dabblers, it's worth it.
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