Michael Crichton is my favorite author by far. Many books have been published after his death (including the awful flop of Pirate Latitudes), but Dragon Teeth caught my dinosaur loving attention.
The book teeters between history and fiction. Marsh was an actual pioneer in the field and his discoveries gave rise to the Peabody Museum of National History. And Edward Cope was a competing legend in the field. In the history books of paleontology you can read about The Bone Wars between Marsh and Cope when the two would fight for finding the dinosaurs first.
What are The Bone Wars?
The Bone Wars, also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush, was a period of time in the 19th century where scientists ruthlessly competed for fossils. Specifically, Edward Cope and Othniel (Charles) Marsh tirelessly competed for fossil discovery.
Marsh (Left) and Cope (Right). Image from Wikipedia, Public Domain, Link.
The two scientists scavenged Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and more. For a full history, I suggest getting this book called The Life of a Fossil Hunter. I purchased it after reading Dragon Teeth as I wanted to learn more about where Crichton developed his characters from.
Onto the review of Dragon Teeth…
Jurassic Park Fans Should Read Dragon Teeth
Dragon Teeth starts off slow telling a tale of a privileged man, William, who was attending Yale when he accepts a bet to travel west through Indian territory to search for dinosaur bones.
William starts his journey with Marsh, a professor at Yale who heads west during the Bone Wars. After some time Marsh becomes suspicious of William and leaves him behind. Then, Cope swoops up William to join his journey.
William experiences a number of struggles crossing through uncharted Indian territory where Native Americans were fighting for their land. Needless to say being a white male riding through Native territory during the 1800s did not help ones’ case.
The writing and story are not as creative as some of Crichton other books – can you even compare Jurassic Park to any of his other books? – but it is worth a read. This book felt like research and a prequel to what would be Jurassic Park. True dinosaur enthusiasts will enjoy the back story of some of the greatest pioneers in paleontology.
Fun fact about this book: Crichton mentions Cope in Jurassic Park. Comment when you find it 🙂