RAPTOR RED by Robert T. Bakker


Email this review


A spinster Utahraptor searches for love and meat 120 million years ago: lighthearted but scientifically sound dino-kitsch from noted paleontologist Bakker. A consultant for the film Jurassic Park, Bakker is often called brilliant and controversial in the same sentence; The Dinosaur Heresies (1986), for example, presented his thesis that many dinosaurs were warm-blooded--an idea now gaining increasing acceptance. Here, he debuts in fiction with the tale of a female Utahraptor, Raptor Red, and makes the best of an obvious Jurassic Park knockoff by matching the inherent silliness with his own Monty Pythonesque commentary: Characters have claws like ginsu knives, Ghurka knives, ""the most expensive French Cuisinart,"" and so on. When a mouse-sized aegi survives an attack by a giant dino-ostrich, he writes that ""Over a hundred million years later, the flow of aegi genes will produce wonderful creations--giraffes, elephants...Republican majority leaders. Charles Darwin himself."" More provocatively, he uses Red's relationships with other dinosaurs to probe current human controversies: Why hate and spite are good from an evolutionary standpoint, why vegetarians are dumber than carnivores, why the odd-looking are rightfully rejected by their own kind, how firm thighs enhance chances of reproduction. The author knows his Disney as well as his dinosaurs: Red loses her mate in the first chapter, scrambles to survive, has a joyous reunion with her sister and her three chicks, and meets a cute raptor. Sister, however, won't hear of a romance--she needs Red to help feed and watch the kids. The advantage over Disney is that genetic selection and the evolutionary struggle, not a marketing department, cue the plot twists. Science and serious fun blend as Bakker shares his love of dinosaurs: a natural for the next Disney movie.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Bantam