ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Linguistics

R.Owen and C.Doyle about Dinosaurs

Updated on April 7, 2018
Mykola profile image

Mykola is a convinced supporter of whole methods in teaching foreign languages, using as approaches art and science simultaneously.


The aim is to show possibilities of synthetic thinking in analysis of literary works. The history of science is a powerful tool in this process.

Looking at "scientific" and "literary" texts in tandem, we will focus on lost worlds. They are both imagined and "real".

It will help to open the characters in speculative fiction of Conan Doyle. Also, we destine this article for students in studying English as a foreign language. It pays attention to the Greek and Latin roots in English.

Definition of dinosaur

1: any of a group (Dinosauria) of often extinct very large chiefly terrestrial carnivorous or herbivorous reptiles of the Mesozoic era

2: any of various large extinct reptiles (such as ichthyosaurs) other than the true dinosaurs

3: The Greek word deinos, when used as a superlative, means “fearfully-great,” as used by Homer in The Iliad. It became simplified over time, as an adjective, to mean “terrible,” plus sauros, “lizard”.

Unknown Dinosaur. After Watching Several Times this Video, Make up the Quiz, Please.

view quiz statistics

Linguistic Comments to Geologic Time and Dinosaurs

Geology, the longest division of geological time, comprising two or more eras
1640s, from Latin aeon, from Greek-aion, "age, vital force, a period of existence, lifetime, generation"
meso-"intermediate"+ Greek zoion -animal, mid 19th century, 230-65 million years ago. First known use:1840
mid 19th century, Greek treis, English- three
French-Jurassique, 1825, -35, Latin -law
Latin -creta, late 17th century, English- chalk
Eon -Phanerozoic- 1925-30, from Greek -phanera, -English: manifest, visible

Sir Richard Owen , British Famous Paleontologist

The Term "Dinosaur"

Dinosaurs had been appearing from the Middle to late Triassic Period of the Mesozoic Era. It was 230 million years ago. They were as members of subclass of reptiles. They consisted in the archosaurs ("ruling reptiles").Nowadays, birds and crocodiles represent it as well.

Scientists began studying dinosaurs in the 1820s. They found the bones of a great land reptile under the soil of English countryside. Sir Richard Owen the first proposed the term "dinosaur" in 1842. As said above, this word is from the Ancient Greek word "deinos", i.e. terrible and sauros ("lizard" or "reptile").

He was a leading British comparative anatomist, museum curator, and paleontologist. He used dinosauria in the "Report of the British Association". As he was the paleontologist, he described many species of dinosaurs.

Darwinians considered Richard Owen as a no-evolutionist and an anti-evolutionist. Owen had been working in the sphere of descriptive or rational morphology. Owen's concept of evolution is a coherent consequence of von Baer's divergent development.

Contribution of Scientists to the Content of English Vocabulary

English language increased its volume due to using words from ancient Greek. It was forming new terms in science according to English spelling. In XIX century, paleontology was rich on terms derived from that ancient language.

Some scientists were using the vocabulary of ancient Greek, creating new terms. Ancient Greek learnt in European schools as obligatory one.

Nowadays this creative role plays English.

The Following Greek Roots May be Found in Words of Different Scientific Vocabularies and in the Text of the Lost World

Greek roots
Explanation in English
Example in the Lost World
First, ancient
Accident, accidental
Draw, write
Photograph, Monograph
Thought, word
The study of something
Finger, toe
Terrible, to fear greatly
One, Single
The shape of form of something
The List may be Continued
R. Owen
General term
invented and used in his scientific activities
Cardiodon, 1841
Cetiosaurus, 1841
Chondrosteosaurus, 1876
Cimoliornis, 1846
Cladeidon, 1841
Coloborhynchus, 1874
Dacentrurus, 1875
Dinodocus, 1884
Echinodon, 1861
Massospondylus, 1854
Nuthetes, 1854
Polacanthus, 1867
Scelidosaurus , 1859
Conan Doyle used the scientific terms in his creative activities
Stegosaurus (roof lizard)
Pterodactyl (flying reptile)
Allosaurus or Megalosaurus

Natural History Museum, Indoors

It Seems Lost Worlds would be Flying under the Vaults of this Museum

In 1856, R. Owen became superintendent of history department of the British Museum. He was instrumental in the establishment of the separate British Museum (Natural History). He started as its first director in 1881.

No doubt, Conan Doyle was attending this museum.

This is an Excellent Monograph by my Gifted Friend, Ray Lankester (The Lost World, the Words of Professor Challenger)

Lankester E. Ray, the Third Director of the Natural History Museum

Portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sitting at the table in his garden Bignell Wood, New Forest,1927

Percy Harrison Fawcett

Roraima Mount

Also Roraima Inspired Conan Doyle with "The Lost World"

More than 9.200 feet high, Roraima is the sacred place for the Pemons, indigenous people. This is the symbol for many Venezuelans. In Pemon language, it became known as "tepuis", meaning "house of gods".

A mystic table-topped mountain on the Venezuela- Brazil border inspired "The Lost World". The novel based on description of Bolivia.

Percy Harrison Fawcett addressed to Conan Doyle letters from this country. He was his friend. The movie "The Lost City of Z" dedicated to this British explorer. He disappeared while searching for a mysterious city on the Amazon in the 1920s.

Power of Imagination

"The Lost World" Conan Doyle united in one range of time and space different epochs.

There were gigantic dinosaurs of Mesozoic era. Their period was of hundreds a million years ago.

Also, there were Fororakos, Toxodons of Cenozoic era. Further, anthropoid apes for which a modern science gives 25 millions years.

He was knowing about the Law of Irreversible Evolution. Belgian scientist Louis Dollo formulated it . But he created an original artistic and scientific fantastic world. There had been some facts which influenced on the artist's intention. It was the book of Professor R.Lankester "Extinct animals".

Conan Doyle shared interest in every possible way to paleontology. In his billiards' room he kept two moulds from the footprints of Iguanodon. He founded it in the limes of Crowborough.

There was his dinner's speech in the Queen Scientific Society. One was honouring Robert Peery, head of the expedition to the Northern Pole. Conan Doyle said about diminution of unknown places on the Earth. He wanted to discover unknown territory for outstanding literary adventures. He did it in his mind for that moment. Moreover, no doubt, the "Dinosaur" of R. Owen strengthened his intention about The Lost World.

The First Stegosaur Fossil was Discovered in Colorado, in 1876. Othniel Charles Marsh Named the Dinosaur in 1877 (Roof Lizard)

Pterodactyl, from Greek Pterodactulos, Meaning "Winged Finger", was Described by Italian Scientist Cosimo Alessandro Collini in 1784

One of Descriptions of Pterodactyl in the Lost World, Chapter 9.

. The whole group of us were covered for an instant by a canopy of leathery wings, and I had a momentary vision of a long, snake-like neck, a fierce, red, greedy eye, and a great snapping beak, filled, to my amazement, with little, gleaming teeth.

Iguanodon, Skeleton. From Spanish Iguana + Greek Odon Variant Odous-Tooth. The Genus was Named in 1825 by English Geologist Gideon Mantell


Description of Iguanodon in the Lost World

The moonlight shone upon his huge projecting eyes, the row of enormous teeth in his open mouth, and the gleaming fringe of claws upon his short, powerful forearms.


New Literary Characters in "The Lost World"

As advantages of the novel "The Lost World, it's necessary to state the real images.

We observe England of the end of the century with great achievements in techniques. It reflects in well-being of people, with particular atmosphere of animated discussion. Not only specialists but wide public cares for it.

The role of the press grows in the life of society. That's why near travellers and inventors the young journalist Malone appears. The responsible role of expedition's secretary intrusts to him in the novel.

The typical features of that historical epoch have other personages. There is the opponent of Challenger, pedantic Professor Summerlee. He is ready recognize his defeat before facts. Aristocratic hunter and sportsman Lord Robert Roxtone represents eternal research.

But the most remarkable among them is Professor Challenger.

Professor Challenger and Philosophy of Eternal Research

  • The name of Challenger associated with wide knowledge. But it did also with skills of practical labour, child's simplicity, and certain eccentric conduct. The author endows him courage not less of Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle names it with honour "courage of intellectual mind".
  • Joy of living in the Challenger's image explained also of the experience of the author. Appearance of Challenger took from Professor William Rutherford. He was from the University of Edinburgh. The character copies some features of his youth's friend, Doctor Joseph Budd. His character have actors Wallace Beery, Claude Rains and others.

Trustworthiness of the Image of Professor Challenger, Scientist, in Literature

Conan Doyle created a new character of modern scientist.

Professor Challenger, as a real scientist, formulates his own hypothesis. It is about the lost world and its inhabitants. South America is a granite continent with former and actual volcanic activities. That's why in some places these circumstances suspended the ordinary laws of Nature. The observed pterodactyl and stegosaurus have conserved due to those accidental conditions.

Challenger continues to practice the experimental method of famous F. Bacon. The hypothesis is following the Darwin's theory partly only. The scene between Professor Challenger and the ape- male has an ironical shade.

Main Events in The Lost World

view quiz statistics

V.Obruchev, his Novel Plutoniya


The Novel "Plutonia" was Overcharged with Scientific Objectivity.

Those disparities in time and space of C. Doyle had an acute reaction from the part of specialists. In 1915 the famous Russian scientist V. Obrutchev wrote the novel "Plutonia". He wanted counterbalance Conan Doyle and Jules Verne.

Expedition to the underground country met representatives of ancient fauna. Step by step, it was penetrating into bowels of the Earth. At the beginning there were mammoths lived tens thousand years ago. Then saber-toothed tigers, and later on gigantic dinosaurs.

But the author overcharged his novel with scientific objectivity and it had no artistic success.

Concept's Map of Creative Activities of Conan Doyle

Speculative Fiction, 1912-1930

In 1912 Conan Doyle came out with the novel "The Lost World". There, he introduced the character of Professor Challenger for the first time The next year, a second Professor Challenger novel "The Poison Belt" was published. In 1926 the novel "The Land of Mist" appeared. In 1928, he presented the short stories with the same hero: "When the World screamed", "The Disintegrated Machine".

The Winter Message of Flying Dinosaur, the Image of the Author, Winter, 2018

Could you name 30 species of dinosaurs in one minute?

See results

Conclusion: the Theme of Dinosaurs is Inexhaustible

Allen A.Debuz demonstrates it in a thematic survey "Dinosaurs in Fantastic Fiction".

There is a great list of artists which try to explain in images destiny of dinosaurs.The study of dinosaurs has been experiencing a remarkable renaissance.

Scientific understanding of dinosaur evolution has advanced to a very high degree. Paleontologists often know more about 100-million-year-old dinosaurs than many species of living organisms.

Science and art are interconnected. Art wakes up energy for new scientific researching. The scientist Robert Owen and the writer Conan Doyle were at the sources of this process.

© 2018 Mykola


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.