That last influence being . . . The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt.
This book ended up being a really inspiring read although I’ll admit that I did put it down once, and did not finish it until long after I’d written both NATGB and my novel set in the same universe.
Essentially, The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt is more about people than it is about dinosaurs. It tells the story of two discoveries within the Bahariya Formation in Egypt. The first, is the original survey of the oasis during 1910 and 1911 by a German paleontologist named Ernst Stromer. Stromer is credited with the discovery of several dinosaurs from the region, namely: Aegyptosaurus (currently the name of my novel), Bahariasaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and the incredibly weird and bad-ass Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.
We also get the story of the ‘Bahariya Dinosaur Project’ which consisted of many paleontologists and geologists (in no particular order): Joshua Smith, Matthew C. Lamanna, Kenneth J. Lacovara, Peter Dodson, Jennifer R. Smith, Jason Charles Poole (called Chewie by the group), Robert Giegengack and Yousri Attia. It seems they found many different fossils during their trip in the 1999 and the winter of 2000, but will mostly be remembered for their discovery of a new Sauropod named Paralititan Stromeri (the God Beast in NATGB).
Sounds Awesome, Why Put it Down?
Correct it is awesome. I learned so much reading this book, but when I first picked it up, I was simply not uncovering the types of information I was looking for. I think I came to the book hoping that it would be more dinosaur centric. I had read the wikipedia pages for each of the dinosaurs referenced above and was completely fascinated by them. I wanted to go deeper into what they were like and how they really lived. What did they eat? How did they move? Or raise their young?
And to TLDOE’s credit, it does open with a pretty speculative section about the Paralititan which the Bahariya Dinosaur Project found, but it is only a page or so long and then we move on to the tragedy of how the dinosaur fossils were lost. This section is mainly about air force pilots, and military technology. World War I things.
It just wasn’t what I came to the book for . . .
But after trying again?
Picking up the book later though, after most of the writing was complete, I found it much more enjoyable. It was cool to see the parallels between Stromer’s work, and the Bahariya Dino Project’s (they even discovered some of Stromer and Markgraf’s old dig sites with plaster still in the ground from nearly 100 years ago!). I found the history of paleontology discussed within the book fascinating. And was proud to recognize a few names I learned in Why Dinosaurs Matter (indeed the author of that book, Kenneth Lacovara, was part of the ‘Barhariya Dinosaur Project’).
Generally getting to know the team members of ‘The Bahariya Dinosaur Project’ was fun as well. Apparently two members of the team are drummers (Lacovara, and Joshua Smith) and they recounted a bit about traditional Egyptian music and drumming which, as a drummer myself, I probably could have read a whole other book on (makes me wonder if there’s some deeper connection between liking drums and liking dinosaurs?).
There was also some really interesting information about traveling in Egypt, and what to watch out for, both in terms of people and wildlife (apparently Egypt is home to the most venomous scorpion in the world, foot long poisonous centipedes and camel spiders which apply an anesthetic to their prey before eating them . . . they’ll have half your face chewed off before you even wake up from sleeping . . . nope nope nope!)
But I think what I enjoyed the most which the book also explores, is some of the science behind Geology and Paleontology. I didn’t know much about how things are named or even what the different time periods of the earth’s history were. This book found a way to describe all of that without making it a boring lecture.
Finally, there were the fossils themselves. Not everything discovered at Bahariya was a dinosaur, and this book delved into those other finds a bit as well. I learned about prehistoric marine snakes (Simoliophis), some whales (Zeuglodon Osiris or Basilosaurus), and Paleomastadon. All creatures I’d like to add to future Egypt and dino adventures (one even has Osiris in the name . . . it writes itself really).
Then, towards the end of the book, what the Oasis must have looked like 95 million years ago. THIS!! This was what I had been wanting to read the whole time. I learned about prehistoric mangrove forests which Paralititan’s long neck would have helped it eat huge swaths of without having to move much (so the general conception of sauropods having long necks to reach high branches seems debunked in Bahariya at least where the long neck would have helped them reach outward not upward). And (at least part of) the answer to the mystery of how so many theropods (the clade of which all meat eating dinos are a part of) could have existed in the same area. They were feeding on the massive Paralititans!
So . . . it was good?
Yes! The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt was an incredible read. Packed full of information, and generally well written. The copy I’m using is from the library, but I will probably end up buying my own copy to serve as a reference going forward. Highly recommend to anyone looking for a good Dino read.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading all of this. Please let me know what your favorite dino is in the comments. From Bahariya? Or anywhere really. See you next time!
Still here? Awesome. I hope you enjoyed The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt (review). As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this was a major influence on my own story, Narmer and the God Beast. I revealed the story’s amazing cover art and blurb a few weeks ago, illustrated for me by Lee Eschliman and I’ve been posting a bunch about my influences for this story all last month. The story’s official launch was on October 4th. If you like anything you’ve seen so far, you can head over to Amazon and order it now.
If you want more of my writing, please check out my fiction page, or consider signing up for my newsletter at https://jdweber.news/EgyptAndDinos. It will give you access to exclusive fiction, special offers, and just my general life and nonsense (here’s a sample newsletter). Just for signing up I’ll send you an email with the very first story I ever wrote about a Warlock Doctor.
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