Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Remarkable Creatures

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

Remarkable Creatures

by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2010, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Mary Anning's Fossils
The cliffs and beaches of Lyme Regis, in Dorset on the south coast of England, are fertile hunting grounds for creatures who lived in what were equatorial seas in the early Jurassic period, around 190 million years ago. Here is a look at some of the fossil types Mary Anning discovers in Remarkable Creatures:

Ammonites are distant relatives of modern-day cephalopods such as octopus, squid, or chambered nautilus, which they most resemble because of their whorled shell. They grew quickly over a life-span of roughly two years. Ammonite fossils from Lyme Regis can range from the size of a fingertip to about 2 feet in diameter. The name "ammonite" comes from Greek version of the Egyptian god Ammon, who is often depicted with ribbed ram's horns.

Sea lilies resemble plants in their long stems and feathery "blossoms", but in fact they are a class of marine animal known as a "stalked crinoid." Sea lillies attached themselves to the sea floor and filtered food from the water with mobile feeding arms. Descendants of sea lilies are still live today, and are known as "feather stars." Other relations include sea stars, sea urchins, and sand dollars.

Mary Anning and her brother Joseph found the complete skeleton of a Jurassic-era ichthyosaur in 1812; the creature (which was thought to resemble a crocodile) didn't receive its current scientific name until 1817. An ichthyosaur is a dolphin-shaped animal descended not from fish, but from land reptiles that returned to the sea and adapted to marine life. Unlike other air-breathing aquatic reptiles, ichthyosaurs did not have to return to land to lay eggs, but bore live young. The name ichthyosaur means "fish lizard."

The plesiosaur was another aquatic reptile, with paddle-like flippers, a long, flexible neck, and a narrow head. Some Loch Ness monster enthusiasts surmise that Nessie could be a plesiosaur.

Other fossils of note: Mary Anning went on to discover the first English pterodactyl fossil (Dimorphodon), an important fish called Squaloraja, and several interesting belemnites (squid-like cephalopods) with ink sacs still intact.

Visit Tracy Chevalier's fossil gallery.

This article was originally published in February 2010, and has been updated for the October 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

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
    My Name Is Leon
    by Kit De Waal
    Kit de Waal's striking debut, My Name is Leon, has inspired this big, long, complicated question: ...
  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

A stunning, provocative new novel from New York Times bestselling author Marisa Silver

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Young Jane Young
    by Gabrielle Zevin

    From the author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes a novel that will have everyone talking.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written--a story about sacrifice and motherhood.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I's A D Before D

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.