Yael's Reviews > Raptor Red
by Robert T. Bakker
by Robert T. Bakker
Nov 15, 2008
It begins: "A pair of fierce but beautiful eyes look out from the dull green undergrowth of conifers and ferns that bound the edges of mud flats and riverbeds." It never lets up after that -- I was ensorceled by RAPTOR RED from the first line of the first page, and never shook off the spell after that. RAPTOR RED is the story of a lady Utahraptor, a 1,500-lb predatory dinosaur who lived in the early Cretaceous. As intelligent as a grey parrot or an orca, or even more so, Raptor Red has come with her mate to North America from Mongolia over a land bridge that temporarily connected the northwestern portions of North America with the northeast coast of Asia. And then . . . her mate is accidentally killed while they are feeding on an astrodon they've brought down. Bereft and all alone -- Raptor Red and her mate hadn't even had chicks together because the season for reproduction hadn't yet occurred between the time he was accepted by her as her consort and the day of his death -- disconsoltely Raptor Red shuffles away to face life alone. But her loneliness isn't to last -- it isn't long before she encounters a small Utahraptor family, a mother and two chicks, and the mother turns out to be her own sister! Though of course her sister isn't her lost consort, Raptor Red once again has companions and a purpose in life, helping to feed, protect, and teach her young nieces. As the newly enlarged family moves across the Cretaceous landscape, Raptor Red and her sister encounter other raptors, some of different species, others rivals -- and one, special raptor, a male of her own species, who courts and finally wins Raptor Red. This enthralling story takes the reader through a much more interesting Cretaceous world than students were once introduced to in biology classes. There is a pterodactyl who watches over the Utahraptor family, has ever since Raptor Red and her sister were babies back in Mongolia, doing what he can to protect them from danger, because he considers that lineage of Utahraptors his pets, endlessly interesting for their interactions with one another and the rest of their world. There is a Kronosaurus, a huge marine creature that haunts the ocean's edge, whom Raptor Red and her new consort tease for fun with a dangerous game of go-away-closer. There are hosts of prey organisms; harmless little reptiles such as the turtles dwelling in a nearby pond; tiny mammals that save the lives of Raptor Red and her sister and nieces by gobbling up disease-carrying insects haunting the sleeping ground of the dinosaurs as they lay wrapped in slumber; pterodactyls of different species; and predatory dinosaurs, some rivals, others, like Acrocanthosaurus, dangerously large, heavy, and strong. All these creatues are presented as (mostly) intelligent and aware beings with lives of their own, interests peculiar to them, their days given meaning by the search for love, the ever-present possibility of danger and death just around the next corner, the society of their own kind, and all the rest of what gives our lives meaning, depth, and fulfillment. You can read it as science fiction, as an extrapolation from science fact, or just as a ripping good novel -- no matter what, it will capture you from the first page, and not let you go until you have finished it.
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