Book Review: Raptor Red

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker is possibly the most entertaining way to learn his theories on early Cretaceous social behaviours of assorted critters. Bakker is a paleontologist who consulted for Jurassic Park, and is an early advocate for science in fiction:

Nature is a drama. It is the most ripping yarn ever written. You’ve got life and death and sex and betrayal and the best way to approach it is through individual animals.

(I can’t access the original US Today article listed as the quote source, but it follows his philosophy outlined in the introduction, so I’ll count it as plausibly accurate.)

Raptor Red is not a particularly compelling story, namely because his editor forgot to explain the concept of “Show, not tell.” The style is painfully similar to journal articles. On the flip side, it is a very fun excursion on speculating about behaviours not expressly forbidden by the fossil record. From this book, he’s particularly adamant that top predators need a lively sense of curiosity and strong social bonds to survive dinner fighting back. The dryness of his digressions into describing the behaviours of each and every creature in technical precision can be forgiven for the sheer joy of envisioning Gastonia taking an indecent amount of pleasure in being a spiky ball of defensiveness, and the squeakiness of Aegialodon dreams. Of everything, the idea too fun to disprove is raptors sledding down hills with growly-giggles of glee.

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