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Re: writer doing research

You may want to take a look at Michael Swanwick's book "Bones of the Earth". Although the time-travel scenario is set in the Cretaceous rather than the Jurassic, it gives a more enlightened insight into the smell and feel of this flora and fauna, and explores some more intriguing concepts of dinosaur behavior. It has a paleontologist's-eye view of this world that is a bit "meatier" than the typical "Lost World" 2-D scene-building.

   Good luck and keep us posted!
   - Patti

Patti Kane-Vanni pkv1@erols.com or paleopatti@hotmail.com http://groups.msn.com/DinosaurandFossilDigs

----- Original Message ----- From: "Karen Casino" <kcasino@comcast.net>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 4:15 PM
Subject: writer doing research

"A broad sweep of dusty ferns extends towards a line of redwoods and
umbrella-shaped araucaria trees at the horizon. A faint BUZZ is heard,
and as we approach it, it grows into the ROAR OF A CHAINSAW..."

Hey, folks!

I've been a lurker here for a few years now, and now I need to ask for
some help with a few dinosaur-related issues. I'm in a narrative
scriptwriting class, and the script that I'm working on is set in the
environment preserved in the Morrison formation. (If anyone's curious
about the details, I'd be happy to give'em to you.) While I'm having
fun writing a lightweight trashy adventure story, I'd like to make it
so that the handling of the Morrison setting doesn't seem as though
it's the product of disgraceful ignorance on the subject.

I'm going to resist the temptation to ask all of my questions at once.
Instead, I'm going to try and ask a few related questions at a time.

I understand that some of these questions aren't going to be
scientifically answerable, but I'm hoping that people who spend time
giving the subject of dinosaur behavior serious thought might have some
enlightening ideas on the unanswerable. I also hope the triviality of a
lot of these questions doesn't prove irritating. And please, if you
have any comments or ideas to throw at me that go beyond my questions,
I'd love to hear them.

Before going into some of the seriously dinosaur-focused questions, I'd
like some advice on seeking out peripheral information on the Morrison
environment. I need to get an idea of what the terrain was like - one
section of the movie involves the main characters having to travel a
distance on foot, and I'd like to be able to use some gritty details on
the difficulties involved. I recall that there was a fairly recently
published volume on the subject of the Morrison that focused on the
overall environment, plant life, etc. If someone could let me know what
it's called and how I could acquire it, I'd be grateful. Likewise any
other sources of information on the subject...

Now, on to some dinosaur questions.

First off, does anyone have any thoughts on the possibilities of a
sauropod stampede? (The scene I'm working on involves the attempted
slaughter of a herd of seismosaurs. If anyone has any ideas as to how
to kill a sauropod without scattering the contents of its crop and
gizzard to hell and gone, I'd be happy to hear them. Right now, I'm
thinking railguns armed with explosive ballistic putty, aimed at necks
and legs.)

I've run across a lot of ideas relating to the speed of carnivores, but
not a whole lot dealing with sauropod locomotion. Would they be moving
faster than a human could walk? Could run?

We all know about the proverbial chicken-with-its-head-cut-off. Would
there be a similar phenomenon with sauropods - would they continue to
move after decapitation, and if so, any ideas on how long they'd keep

What's a reasonable range for the size of a herd of big sauropods?

Are there any trackways that give a good idea as to how the herd would
be organized? The Walking With Dinosaurs series showed sauropods
arrayed in a sort of a line - four or five individuals in the lead,
with the rest following them. Is this a reasonable guess?

And when they panicked, would they stay in the same formation, would
they start to jostle each other, would they scatter and head for the

Is it reasonable to imagine a big sauropod herd being followed by
predators? Would these predators take advantage of a stampede to attack
wounded or otherwise vulnerable sauropods?

I'm giving thinking that one of the characters could hitch a ride on a
sauropod, using pitons/spikes to hitch a ride on a hind leg and using
the animal as moving cover when he attacks another group of characters.
Any thoughts?

I guess that's more than enough for now. Thanks for your attention!

Sean Craven