by Deborah Cadbury
IN 1812, Mary Anning, a poor woman from Lyme Regis, discovered the skeleton of a monster beneath the cliffs of Dorset. Her remarkable find set in motion a quest to understand the strange, buried world thought to have existed before Noah’s Flood. At Oxford University, the eccentric naturalist, the Reverend William Buckland, eagerly used his research into fossil remains in an attempt to prove the accuracy of the Biblical record.
Meanwhile, another naturalist, Gideon Mantell a shoemaker’s son, uncovered giant bones in a Sussex quarry and became obsessed with the ancient past which he came to realise must once have been teeming with creatures up to 70-foot long. Initially spurned by the scientific establishment, he risked everything to reveal his vision of the lost world of the reptiles.
Despite all their efforts. it was the eminent anatomist Richard Owen, patronised by royalty, Prime Minister and the aristocracy, who scooped the credit for the discovery of the dinosaurs. Through guile, political intrigue and brilliant scientific insight Owen rose from a surgeon’s apprentice in Lancaster to the highest echelons society and was feted as the man who gave the extinct creatures their name.
In The Dinosaur Hunters, Deborah Cadbury re-creates the bitter feud between Mantell and Owen, which drove one of them to despair and secured for the other unrivalled international acclaim. Their struggle was to create a new science that would forever change man’s perception of hi place in the universe, and that brought to light a prehistoric era that was more strange and awesome than anyone could have imagined.
374 pages 34 illustrations