Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dino Embryos, Crichton's Jurassic Park, & Bakker's Raptor Red


From yesterday's Wired article "Chinese dinosaur embryo fossils are oldest found so far:"
The oldest fossilised dinosaur embryos found so far have been discovered by palaeontologists in China. With several of the embryos petrified at different stages of development, it offers a rare insight into exactly how dinosaurs developed inside eggs.
Also exciting is that the embryos appear to contain organic matter that hasn't been fossilised, which would be the oldest organic material ever found from a terrestrial vertebrate. The fossils -- which are thought to be either Massospondylus or Lufengosaurus -- have been dated as being between 190 and 197 million years old, the Lower Jurassic period.
I have two recommendations for novels about dinosaurs. First, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton:
An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Creatures once extinct now roam Jurassic Park, soon-to-be opened as a theme park. Until something goes wrong...and science proves a dangerous toy.
A lesser-known novel that I would also recommend is Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker:
Revolutionary paleontologist Bakker...has written a novel that might be subtitled "A Year in the Life of a Dinosaur," as he tells the story of Raptor Red, a giant carnivore of the Early Cretaceous period.
Having lost her mate in a botched hunting attack, Red (so-named because of the red stripe on her snout distinguishing her from other raptor species) joins forces with her sister and her sister's three chicks to survive in a world of hostile natural forces.
Bakker manages to mix scientific theories -- some of which are definitely on the cutting edge -- with a rip-roaring narrative. Perhaps even more miraculously, he has created a sympathetic nonhuman heroine without anthropomorphizing her into a Disney character.

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