I first learned about Jack Horner when I was in college, then Central Missouri State University, now called University of Central Missouri. It was either my sophomore or junior year, I think the first time I took Invertebrate Paleontology. I say first time, because my first teacher was a horrible teacher. I had a C, he lost my final, which I felt like I’d done really well on, and told me I had a D. Since that was in my major, I had to re-take the class. I’m glad in a way that I did, because the my 2nd teacher was an awesome teacher and took me on my first “real” fossil expeditions. But I digress. It was about this time that the book Jurassic Park was a big hit, soon to be followed by the movie. My infatuation with dinosaurs was rediscovered. Around this time I asked for a book I’d heard about called “Digging Up Dinosaurs” by Dr. John Horner for a Christmas gift. Dr. John Horner is Jack Horner. I soon was to the point where I couldn’t get enough nonfiction science books on dinosaurs and paleontology. My family of course noticed this, and the awesome college graduation gift I received was based on an article my step-dad found in the Kansas City Star my Senior year of college. In Montana, Jack Horner had a camp funded through the Montana State University where anyone who came up with the money and got signed up in time could come and work on an actual dinosaur dig. I got to go spend a week doing this the summer after I graduated. I still remember it all vividly, sleeping in a teepee. The pitch blackness at night, except for how bright the moon in the sky was. Being in a desert, yet wearing a sweatshirt on a July morning when we first went out to dig.
The money people pay for this, is one way they continue to fund their digs. And if I could, I would pay to go every year. I loved every minute of it. Except maybe for the bathrooms, and vegetarian dinner night. 🙂 A year ago, a new book came out called “How to Build a Dinosaur” by Jack Horner again. I asked for it last year as either a birthday or Christmas gift, but just wasn’t quite in the mood to pick it up and read. I’ve kind of been in a nonfiction slump other than a few weight loss memoirs last spring. A couple weeks ago 60 Minutes did a story on Jack Horner, and basically what this book is about, and I remembered that book sitting on my shelf. I was also waiting for the final book on my Mark Twain nominee list to be available to check out at the library, and so was looking for what to read. And so I picked this up, and was again drawn right back in to this world I wish I was a part of every day of my life. Dr. Horner wants to create a Chickenosaur. Birds have been declared the descendents of dinosaurs, and so using a chicken and changing some things in its embryological development is where Dr. Horner sees us going.
Obviously there is much more to the book than I’ve laid out here, but I’ll leave it open for others to read and enjoy. I will leave you with a quote Dr. Horner includes in this book by George Carlin. I’m not always a Carlin fan, due to some of his political comments, but this one sums up my views on global warming, and other environmental issues, as well as bringing to light the attitude that scientists in the geology field, which I equate myself with, have towards all these same things.
“Way over 90 percent of all the species that have ever lived on this planet – ever lived – are gone. They’re extinct. We didn’t kill them all. They just disappeared. That’s what nature does. They disappear these days at the reate of twenty-five a day. And I mean regardless of our behavior. Irrespective of how we act on this planet, twenty-five species that are here today will be gone tomorrow. Let them go gracefully. Leave nature alone.” – George Carlin
I actually have a few more reviews to do, but in the sense that I’m getting tired of typing, I’ll come back and fill them in another day.