I'm less amazed that it's characters have no more depth than the mobile paper dolls one finds in the aforementioned features. Director Roland Emmerich has offered some fun roller-coaster rides to theatergoers, like Independence Day, but no one's ever accused him of spending much time on the people involved in them.
ll About Strange Beasts of the Past, by a man named Roy Chapman Andrews. Andrews wrote two other books in the Allabout series, about dinosaurs and whales, which were also regular visitors to the family dwelling. Beast's cover -- a rather fanciful scene of a saber-toothed tiger attacking a giant sloth that was itself stuck in a tar pit (and which looked strangely like Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book) -- always fascinated me.
Andrews himself was a naturalist and adventurer who also served as the director of the American Museum of Natural History. He may have been one of the inspirations, even if indirectly, for the Indiana Jones character played by Harrison Ford.
Beasts was published more than 50 years ago, so its research and information are pretty outdated. But if Mr. Emmerich and co-writer Harold Klosner had picked up a copy, they might not have had saber-tooths and woolly mammoths roaming the area that's supposed to turn into ancient Egypt.