Excerpt from The Dinosaur Feather by S J. Gazan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Dinosaur Feather

by S J. Gazan

The Dinosaur Feather by S J. Gazan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2013, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 544 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Anna understood entirely why the new concept of evolution seemed unimaginable. For centuries the broad consensus had been that God had personally created every animal and plant and that the mouse and the cat, the beech and the maple were no more related than the desert and the firmament or the sun and the dew on the grass. Everything was God's work and one creature couldn't simply evolve into another, nor could animals and plants become extinct unless it was God's wish to remove the species in question from production. As far as birds were concerned, it therefore didn't follow that the sparrow was related to the starling, the flamingo, the shearwater, or any other bird, or that birds as a group were related to each other or to dinosaurs or reptiles or any other animal. They had been put on Earth, aerodynamic and fully developed, by God. Voilà. The theory of evolution broke completely with the doctrine that the Earth and all its organisms had been created by one divine being, and this was a huge challenge: how could people suddenly accept that evolution happened by itself, without God's influence, just like that?


The dream continued. The sun was now high above Solnhofen. After a quick consultation about today's tasks and a cup of coffee as black as tar, they all got to work. Anna's area was a gentle slope behind the rest of the team, and she had only to raise her head to see where the others were and what they were doing. The lithographic limestone slab spread out beneath her like a huge blackboard. She scraped, eased away a couple of layers, brushed sand and soil aside, coaxed the earth; she took off her jacket and pushed up her sleeves. An isolated gust of wind from the south forced her to close her eyes to avoid the dust. When she opened them again and looked down, she saw the fossil. The wind had removed nearly all the excess material, and though another two layers needed to be removed before the creature would lie fully revealed, there was no mistaking it. Beneath her, bathed in the light from a yellow sun, lay Archaeopteryx Lithographica, one of the world's most precious fossils. It was slightly smaller than a present-day hen and had one wing beautifully unfurled. In this respect the dream was a bit of a cheat, she thought, because she instantly knew what she had discovered. She recognized the small bird from hundreds of photos; only two weeks ago, in the vertebrate collection at the Natural History Museum, she had been studying the impression—which the Germans had reluctantly allowed a Danish paleontologist to make—of the Berlin Specimen, as Archaeopteryx Lithographica was known. She recognized the flight feathers, which lay like perfectly unfurled lamella against the dark background, she saw the relatively large tail feather, the wondrously faultless location of the rear and front limbs and the arched position of its flawlessly formed skull, which made this specimen superior to anything else discovered so far. In 1861, the newly discovered London Specimen had been sold to the British Natural History Museum for £700. Now Anna had uncovered one of the ten most beautiful and significant fossils in the world: the Berlin Specimen.

Her instinctive reaction was to punch the air and cry out in triumph to von Molsen, who was standing some distance away in deep thought, holding his pipe, but what she needed now was a plan. Anna had to beckon von Molsen in a manner that made it clear she had stumbled across something extraordinary, while simultaneously sounding sufficiently vague in her conclusion so von Molsen wouldn't get the impression that she already knew what she had found. That would surely make him suspicious.

Von Molsen turned around instantly when she called him and came toward her with reverence. When he reached her, he knelt down by the excavation and stared for a long time at the fossilized animal that was emerging. Carefully, he worked on the last two layers of the limestone sediment, whereupon, with great awe, he traced the perfect body of the small bird with his finger. Anna knew that the bird was 150 million years old.

Excerpted from The Dinosaur Feather by S J Gazan. Copyright © 2013 by S J Gazan. Excerpted by permission of Quercus. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pachinko
    Pachinko
    by Min Jin Lee
    Pachinko has one of the best opening lines I've encountered in some time: "History has failed us, ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Summer Before the War
    by Helen Simonson
    Set on the cusp of World War I, The Summer Before the War exudes strength and spirit as a small town...
  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Fifth Petal
    by Brunonia Barry

    Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of The Lace Reader with this spellbinding new thriller.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    I See You
    by Clare Mackintosh

    A dark and compelling thriller about an everyday woman trapped in the confines of her everyday world.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

The good writer, the great writer, has what I have called the three S's: The power to see, to sense, and to say

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.