I’m happy to be kicking off Jurassic Austen! In celebration of the opening of Jurassic World, join me and my fellow Meryton Press authors for the next five days to explore how Austen’s characters moved through their dinosaur-eat-dinosaur world. It wasn’t always the fittest who survived and thrived in #JurassicAusten. Some of them were ferocious, some of them were clever, and some of them were just plain lucky.
Today’s dinosaur has become a common species throughout literature and pop culture: the vulgar mother. But no one has described her so well as Jane Austen.
Common name: Mrs. Bennet
Description: Jane Austen described relatively few Maternosaurs, and M. vulgaris had the shrillest call by far. Fossil evidence of a small brain cavity suggests Mrs. Bennet was a dinosaur of mean understanding. When she felt ill-used by the dinosaurs around her, she presented a nervous condition, often involving clutched and fluttered handkerchiefs, and loud complaints that no one understood her suffering.
Range: M. vulgaris was native to a small village in present-day Hertfordshire, and limited most of her activities to its immediate environs. A social dinosaur, Mrs. Bennet derived pleasure from visiting her neighbors, gossiping, and bragging.
Behavior: It can’t be said that Maternosarus vulgaris did not love her offspring. Her greatest ambition was to see her five daughters secure advantageous matches with male dinosaurs, which was at that time one of the few strategies available for female survival. Despite her small brain cavity, she sensed the inequity of the patriarchal system she and her daughters lived in, but was powerless to do much about it. This made her desperate, and her efforts to throw her daughters into the paths of eligible mates may have harmed their chances as much as helped them.
M. vulgaris’s five offspring attained varying levels of success. Her two eldest daughters (Bellopteryx sororia and Vivamentopteryx vivoculos) won the devotion of strong, worthy mates and enjoyed all the advantages a mother could wish for or brag about. The youngest daughter, Siblioraptor wantonus, attached herself to the scavenger Duplicidon creepus. The pair migrated often, struggling to find the best conditions. It is not known how long that relationship ultimately lasted. The fossil evidence for the fates of M. vulgaris’s two remaining daughters is likewise sketchy.
(Siblioraptor wantonus and Bellopteryx sororia will be described more thoroughly in future Jurassic Austen postings.)
Image attributions: Psittacosaurus via wikimedia, Hertfordshire via TuckDB
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Add any observations you have about M. vulgaris and her behavior. Perhaps you’d like to fill in the “scientific names” of Mary and Kitty Bennet. Or perhaps you dispute the names of any of the Austenosaurs mentioned here, and have a more accurate designation for them. All paleontological contributions are welcome!
Later today: Beau North will elucidate readers on the dinosaur known commonly as Mary Musgrove née Elliot.