Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

1. First lines. 2. Published 2017 Harper Collins. 3. Dinosaur [Public Domain] via Needpix 4. Fossil Beds Geological Rock Formation [Public Domain] via Needpix

This is the story of William Johnson, who has been recruited as a photographer for a fossil-hunting expedition into Wyoming, Dakota and other western states of America in 1876. He travels with real-life paleontologists Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope. In their search to find dinosaur bones, they face dangers from warring Indian tribes, gunslingers and other notorious characters of the Wild West.


“This was Johnson’s first night out under the great domed sky of the prairie, and sleep was impossible. The very thought of a rattlesnake or a grizzly bear would have prevented any sleep, but there were too many other sounds besides – the whisper of the wind in the grass, the hooting of owls in the darkness, the distant howls of coyotes. He stared up at the thousands of stars in the cloudless sky, and listened.”

“The Indians think these fossils are the bones of serpents, which is to say reptiles. We think they were reptiles, too. They think the creatures were gigantic. So do we. They think these gigantic reptiles lived in the distant past. So do we. They think the great spirit killed them. We say we don’t know why they disappeared – but since we offer no explanation of our own, how can we be sure theirs is superstition?”

My opinion:

Disappointingly dull. This is a posthumously published book that, in my opinion does not have the spark of other Crichton books.

The opinion of others:
  • Washington Post: “It’s a fun and diverting romp through the Old West in search of dinosaur bones.”
  • The Verge: “The new Michael Crichton novel has dinosaur bones and gunslingers, but it lacks a soul. … While the book presents a fun collection of scenes and action that briskly carries the reader along, the story never quite clicks. All the parts are there, but when combined, it feels like a raw, somewhat unfinished manuscript. Perhaps this is because, in some ways, it is. The story meanders, characters are introduced and dropped without notice, and Johnson’s journey feels surface deep. It’s a solid draft, but there’s a reason this particular story wasn’t published in the first place. And so Dragon Teeth feels a bit like a ghost of the author’s best works.”
  • Kirkus: “Falls short of Crichton’s many blockbusters, but fun reading nonetheless, especially for those interested in the early days of American paleontology.”
Other editions:

The Official Site of Michael Crichton

Historical note:

Paleontologists Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope were rivals in what is now called “The Bone Wars” in America in the late nineteenth century. They were competing to find valuable fossil bones that were scattered throughout the western districts, and at least a hundred new species of dinosaurs were found between them.

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