Eggs. Feathers. Hunting packs. Dinosaur fossils are giving paleontologists tantalizing dribs and drabs of evidence as to all sorts of things these days, evidence suggesting not only what dinosaurs looked like, but how they may have lived beginning with the moment they hatched to the way they moved, to how they hunted, to how they interacted with their own species, and so much more. A lot of this was presumed to be unknowable when I was in college, back when all that paleontologists had to study were the bones that happened to have survived for tens or hundreds of millions of years. Plus, more and more intriguing specimens are being discovered and described every day from every continent, even Antarctica.
For a science fiction writer like me, all this means that September is the time to begin a new chapter in my education. I’m looking forward to taking Dino 101 again. Whew! They sure don’t make those Mesozoic critters like they used to.
Final note: A (virtual) gold star goes to those of you who recognized that this distinctive looking dinosaur comes from China and has been named Anchiornis huxleyi.
Today, I’ve just about completed the casting for the dinosaurs starring in a new story set in the Jurassic. The competition for a role in my story was tough, as I’ve said “sorry, no” to Allosaurus, and Stegosaurus, and the entire herd of Apatosaurs. I mean, impressive as they are, haven’t we all seen these guys enough already?
Besides, some fresh-faced discoveries are coming from China, and are they ever strutting their feathers. For example, Anchiornis huxleyi showed up for the audition sporting long black and white feathers on all four limbs, rather like a mutant chicken. Next, little Epidexipterxy hui, dropped out of the trees and wowed me with a set of upper and lower fangs that any vampire would envy. Even the modest little ornithopods are more than they seem. Naturally, one can never discount Juramaia sinensis, the mammal that just might steal the show.
In other words, I’ve been doing research. But don’t suppose that means the next step will be plotting, to be followed by writing. No indeed. I had already sketched out six scenes and written 5000 words before most of the non-human cast arrived. You see, when I’m enthusiastic about a project, I start writing as soon as any characters or critters start doing interesting stuff. Put another way, just as character and plot are intrinsically intertwined, I find that so are researching, plotting, and writing.