February 22, 2014

Raptor Red

Does it say something that my favourite book of 2013 is one I read for the second time? (The first? When it was released, in 1996). "Raptor Red" is a delightful novel -- but for me, not so much because it is an engrossing story, which it is, or beautifully written, which it isn't. Nor even because its dinosaur protagonists are so engaging.

What makes this book memorable is what it says about an unsung virtue of science: how scientists build edifices of reason from the tiniest scraps of evidence. After all, dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, and all we know about them comes from the fossil record. Yet palaeontologist Robert Bakker wrote this book to support his thesis that they were "warm-blooded, active and social animals."

It positively warms the cockles of my heart that a scientist proposes this, and plausibly, after poring over rocks buried for aeons. Then he writes a beguiling novel. Wow.

Raptor Red by Robert T Bakker
Bantam Books, 1995

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