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RE: The Last Dinosaur Book(long)







Another problem I had with this book was the frequent use of the noun phrase
"the dinosaur" throughout, as if there were such a thing. There is no such
thing. There are many kinds of dinosaurs, none of which may legitimately be
singled out as "the dinosaur."

<<from Tom Mitchell:  Dear Dinogeorge:  All this fretting about the
collective noun phrase, "the dinosaur" could be put to rest if you would
just read my book with a little care and attention.  See p. 51 where I
explain how it is "the word 'dinosaur' seems to specify an individual or
concrete universal in a way that 'mammal' does not.  It's hard to imagine an
interesting story with 'the mammal' as the lead character, but 'the
dinosaur'...immediately suggests a concrete character, with a
personality..." (I go on to discuss examples). I also discuss the repertoire
of subtypes and stereotypes of the dinosaur in folk taxonomy, its
differentiation in an array of familiar images.  Of course I know that there
are many thousands of types in scientific taxonomy, and never suggest
otherwise.  But I must say that I'm surprised to hear you say "there is no
such thing" as the dinosaur.  Are you turning into a deconstructionist,
Dinogeorge?  Don't you believe in the real existence of taxons and
monophyletic groups?  Of collective entities such as species?>>

This correction would, however, nullify the impact of Chapter 21,
"Schizosaur," wherein the author--having set up this red herring concept of
"the dinosaur"--complains about Charles R. Knight's images of dinosaurs as
"compromise formations that stitch together the dualities of the dinosaur
image" and laments Knight's attempts to illustrate "an incoherent, hybrid
creature that straddles two different zoological groups, the reptiles and
the
birds."

<<I don't "lament" anything about Charles Knight's images.  I celebrate
their power to capture what Edwin Colbert called "dinosaur duality" in
scenes of heroic, single combat, scenes which go on to become part of global
popular culture.  I also mention Robert Smithson's very astute assessment of
Knight's importance.  You should reconsider your assessment of Smithson,
George.  He was a very serious student of natural history, paleontology, and
one of the great American artists of his period.>>