Friday, June 6, 2014

A peak into Rattle His Bones and Dinosaurs

I have been dormant for a while due to a combination of work and an attack of the creeping crud.  I went straight from giving and grading finals to running a HAZWOPER refresher course to being a parent helper at a Girl Scouts camp out. Immediately after that I caught an upper respiratory virus that knocked me out for over a week. I am just starting to get back up to speed now.

I spent that week re-reading comfort books, since that was about the limit of my energy. Mostly I ended up reading random books from Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple mystery series - whatever I could grab without moving too much. The books are set in England shortly after World War I, that unique period now called "between the wars."

For Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader I have book 8 in the series, Rattle his Bones by Carola Dunn.

He hurried up the stairs from the basement and unlocked the door which kept the public from wandering down into the private areas of the museum. Pushing it open a crack, he heard voices in the North Hall. He froze, still as a rabbit mesmerized by a stoat, nerves aquiver. 

The rabbit mesmerized by a stoat thing is very British - I had no idea. See if you are interested (warning - yes, the rabbit gets it!). Honestly it looks more to me like the rabbit is confused to death by the stoats unnerving break dancing exhibition.

Photo ©Tristan Bantock

I haven't had a chance to clean my desk up after the HAZWOPER class so I am surrounded by nonfiction books with titles like Hazardous Materials Compliance Handbook and Emergency Response Guidebook. Somehow I don't think that anyone would be terribly interested in the opening sentences of them ... How to use this Guidebook. RESIST RUSHING IN! Approach Incident from Upwind or Upstream.

Riveting stuff. 

So, since dinosaurs and reptiles figure into my fiction chose this week, how about Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and Illustrated by Luis V. Ray. I use this book when I give talks for elementary school kids - they love it - the artwork is fantastic! Everything is so colorful. If you have a child into dinosaurs, this is a great choice - it goes into impressive detail about the science but is still quite approachable - even early readers who are not up to the text absolutely love the pictures. Plus, it is also great for adults who are interested and don't have a background in paleontology.

The world of dinosaurs is changing. How so? you ask. After all, the world of dinosaurs ended 65.5 million years ago! How could something that ended so long ago be changing ? What's done is done, right? 

Not necessarily. 

In truth, the world of dinosaurs itself isn't changing, but our understanding of it is. Facts and discoveries about dinosaurs and their world that we now take for granted would have astonished people at the beginning of the twentieth century! In fact, some of these facts were astonishing people just ten or fifteen years ago! For example, we now know that some dinosaurs (including the infamous Velociraptor) had long feathers on their arms, legs and tail. ...

And for  The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice by page 56 of Rattle his Bones we are well and truly into spoilers so I am going to apply a redaction or two ...

"What the bloody –'scuse me miss – flippin' blankety blank's going on here?"

"Redacted's dead," Daisy said tersely. 

"That's what the lady said, miss. Blimey, will you look at what Ol' Stony's done to that pariosaurus! Mr. Mummery's going to have forty fits."

"Never mind about the blasted Pareiasaurus! Redacted's been killed."

"Who by?" asked the commissionaire.

"I don't know. And goodness knows where he's got to by now. ..."

So, just in case you are interested, a Pareiasaurus is an anapsid reptile from the Permian period, which means that it is not actually a dinosaur. Anapsid means that there are no 'extra' holes in the temple region of the skull. Dinosaurs are diapsid reptiles, which means that they have two holes in the temple region of the skull. Dinosaurs evolved in the Triassic, around 235 million years ago. The Permian was an earlier period, an age of giant reptiles that ended with the worst mass extinction the Earth has experienced, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species going extinct - much bigger than the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs.

I found this at
This picture was taken in 1933 at the Walker Museum in Chicago. As far as I can tell this skeleton is now in the Field Museum if you want to see him in person. This is the closest I can get at the moment to the reptile being described in the book.
From page 56 of Dinosaurs (which does not include the genus Pareiasaurus):

All life, including all vertebrates, first evolved in the sea and got oxygen from the water. Today we have a name for vertebrates that get their oxygen from water: we call them fish. But they don't represent a single, discrete branch of the Tree of Life. Instead, there are many different branches of "fish," some of which are more closely related to you and dinosaurs than they are to other fish.

This is page 57.
I am not sure if it helps but I though I would include it as opposed to lecturing on cladistics.


  1. This is a very interesting post. I liked it...

    Here is my Friday 56 post!!


    Here is my Book Beginning post!!

  2. I haven't read any of Carola Dunn's books in years for some reason. I liked the few that I read but then kind of forgot about her. Love the intro and 56 so I'll definitely have to look for some more of her books. I love the stoat picture though I'm still not 100% sure what it is! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Fascinating post! All the books you featured sound interesting. Well... except for those HAZWOPER books! I especially enjoyed the dialogue from Rattle His Bones. I hope you've recovered from your respiratory crud.
    My Friday post is here: WALLS FOR THE WIND.

  4. I think I'm more into the dinosaur book. I love learning about them, have my whole life.

    Happy weekend!

  5. I have a grandson who loved dinosaurs. Thanks for sharing a photo of a stoat. I had no idea. For some reason, I thought of beer. I love Carola Dunn's mysteries, really good. I like the cover of this one. My husband and I had that respiratory thing. It took about ten days for it to go away. Didn't think it would ever go away.

  6. My problem is the spelling. That's a hard word, "Pareiasaurus."


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