Tuesday, February 9, 2010
A Blast From Science's Past
It's been ten days and I am still committed to my Read It Or Remove It (R.I.O.R.I.) policy. How is that for dedication? Impressive is the word you are scratching your head for I believe. This time the book was the educational and absorbing The Dragon Seekers by Christopher McGowan and it was discovered on a frequently looked at bookcase in show room new condition. Having recently read and enjoyed Remarkable Creatures, Seekers being about the first dinosaur hunters is a perfect follow up.
We are not always fair to early scientists. When we look back with our powerful hindsight and vast ninth grade science knowledge at their accomplishments they somehow seem quaint. For instance how could nineteenth century scholars ever have failed to know what every six year old knows? That dinosaurs once ruled the Earth. It seems impossible.
The Dragon Seekers is a fascinating account of early Victorian naturalists, geologists, amateurs and eccentrics* who searched out the remains of frightening creatures never before seen or imagined. These men and women who were from all social classes and some of whom had little or no formal education. They made huge strides in our understandings of fossils and for the most part their contributions were forgotten in the post Darwin world. Seekers tells their stories with all the excitement of first discovery.
Author McGowan has successfully captured the magnitude of what these forgotten trailblazers did for a modern world that thinks all evolution and religious belief verses the possibility of life before Adam and Eve started with Darwin.
P.S. Why were there so many Victorian eccentrics? You never hear about Elizabethan eccentrics or Me Generation eccentrics. What was it about the 1800's that turned so many people eccentric?