Being something of an ignorant youth myself, the first I heard of this book was when Darren Naish mentioned it on his Tetrapod Zoology blog (see link above), describing Charig as "among the last of the 'old guard'" who argued against many of the new ideas put forward in the 1960s-80s. This piqued my interest when it subsequently appeared on eBay, as I was expecting it to feature a heap of horribly outdated art that would be good for a giggle. Seems I forgot about Peter Snowball.
Although a lot of Snowball's art is new to me (in spite of being rather old), the above image was instantly recognisable even for a grasshopper such as myself. Depicting Megalosaurus and Scelidosaurus, it was still commonly found in dinosaur books into the '90s, and I'm quite certain that it featured in Dinosaurs! more than once. Noteworthy here are the active postures of both animals, especially the Scelidosaurus - thyreophorans of every stripe were still commonly depicted as sprawling, tail-dragging and highly ponderous at that time. In addition, Snowball hasn't succumbed to the meme of depicting Megalosaurus as some sort of weird, skulking hunchback (a la Neave Parker). It's the well-informed nature of this piece that makes Megalosaurus' conspicuously absent first toe all the more strange. Can't win 'em all, I guess...
Snowball's painterly scenes portraying Mesozoic life remain quite beautiful. The above scene depicts various English Early Cretaceous dinosaurs. The usual suspects Iguanodon, Hypsilophodon and Polacanthus are here, but more unusually so is the theropod Altispinax (for which you should probably just read Becklespinax). Given recent suggestions that Becklespinax might have had a Concavenator-style hump rather than a sail, this artwork seems remarkably prescient. Elsewhere, Snowball's work features fully terrestrial sauropods and a Triceratops breaking out into an energetic trot (below) alongside what is, admittedly, a gigantic Pachycephalosaurus and a slightly funky Tyrannosaurus. Still, this stuff is just plain lovely - streets ahead of a lot of the crap being churned out at the time.
Charig, for his part, makes it clear that he believes dinosaurs to have been energetic and successful animals, in contrast with the old view of them as sluggish evolutionary dead-ends. However, he still promotes ideas that seem very odd today (if not as outright wacky as dinosaurs suffering from a hormonal imbalance). For example, he claims that there is no good evidence that the Saurischia and Ornithischia were more closely related to each other than they were to other archosaur groups, making 'the Dinosauria' an unnatural grouping of animals.
Charig is also quite fervent in his belief that birds cannot be dinosaurs, and yet he never really explains why. In fact, he goes a long way towards making the case (one that, even back then, was seriously solid) - one chapter arduously notes the similarities between Archaeopteryx and small theropods like Deinonychus (Snowball's restoration of which, in contemporary naked style, is above) but then dismisses them all for no good reason. In fact, most of Charig's reasoning seems to come from the fact that, in his opinion, regarding birds as dinosaurs just sounds silly, as we'd end up saying things like the following:
"'Dinosaurs of a feather flock together', and 'A dinosaur in the hand is worth two in the bush'. The dawn chorus of the dinosaurs would waken us early in the morning, we should visit the Dinosaur House at the zoo to see the humming-dinosaurs flitting lightly from flower to flower...[continues in similar vein]"Alas, poor Alan, for you turned out to be wrong. And on that note, I'll leave you with what is undoubtedly the strangest restoration in the book. This quadrupedal Spinosaurus by one of the Burrowses is just utterly, utterly baffling. Especially as it appears to be worshipping at the feet of a Dilophosaurus-lord. All hail the Dilophosaurus-lord!