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Michael Crichton again

March 1, 2018

I wrote about Michael Crichton in a June 28, 2012 blog and am reiterating that I continue to learn from him.

I just finished “Dragon Teeth” and found out that the amazing Brontosaurus and many of its genus lived here in the Mid-Western states. Who would have ever thought this? I guess I should have known this since I’ve seen their skeletons and recreated drawings many times at the Museum of Natural History in New York and museums elsewhere, but I never read the fine print on the description cards choosing to spend my time marveling at their mammoth size and the many varieties of dinosaurs.

While Crichton died in 2008, the outline, notes and manuscript for this book was discovered by his wife and became this book. Dinosaurs did roam the American West and the two paleontologists that were major figures in the fiction novel were described realistically along with their discoveries; although many of the details of their exploits, rivalry, antagonism and altercations were exaggerated [slightly] and condensed into the story that takes place over a few Summer months. The other figures including the central character is fiction, although some real figures appear or are mentioned peripherally such as Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickock, Robert Louis Stevenson and General Custer. My wife and I were in Deadwood and the author describes it as it was, and still is.

The book points out that evolution was a newly “discovered” scientific theory just a couple of years prior to the start of the Civil War and at the time of the novel, 1876, the year of our Centennial Celebration, it was hotly debated and denied by many. The first dinosaur to be described in a scientific manner was in 1824, although Thomas Jefferson earlier wrote some remarks about fossils possibly representing extinct creatures but he kept that private since such thoughts in the early 19th Century were considered heresy. In today’s age with instant worldwide access to information I found the time line suggested in “Dragon Teeth” very interesting and eye opening since much of this lack of knowledge existed less than 150 years ago. A pithy quote from one of the two central paleontologists is “I am thirty-six years old, but at the time I was born dinosaurs were unknown. All the generations of mankind has been born and died, lived and inhabited the earth, and none ever suspected that long, long before them, life on our planet was dominated by a race of gigantic reptilian creatures who held sway for millions upon millions of years.” Amazing!

I found parts of the story tedious and some of the characters shallow, but that did not deter me from wanting to keep on reading and turning the pages to find out what was coming next. This is a quick, enjoyable and enlightening read. Read this book!

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2018 10:11 am

    Sure a lot of bones were found in the mid-west and far west; but the search for dinosaur bones in the US began with the discovery of a Hadrasaurus skeleton back here in New Jersey, near Haddonfield.

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