Carnosaur (novel)

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Original 1984 paperback edition
AuthorHarry Adam Knight
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreScience fiction & Horror novel
PublisherStar Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages208 (first edition, paperback)
ISBN0-352-31447-8 (first edition, paperback)

Carnosaur (1984) is a horror novel written by Australian author John Brosnan, under the pseudonym of Harry Adam Knight. A film adaptation was made in 1993 by Adam Simon.

The novel bears several similarities to Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, though Carnosaur preceded the latter work by six years. Brosnan feared that the public would have thought that his Gollancz reissue of Carnosaur would have been seen as a plagiarism to Jurassic Park. He admitted he liked the scene in the Crichton novel film adaption involving dinosaurs rampaging through a museum, as it bore direct similarities to an incident featured in Carnosaur.[1]


Set in a rural village in Cambridgeshire, England, the novel opens in a chicken farm which is attacked one night by a mysterious creature, leaving the farmer and his wife dead. A story circulates that the killer was a Siberian tiger that had escaped the private zoo of an eccentric lord named Darren Penward. A reporter named David Pascal investigates the carnage and notices that the blood stained room where the attack has taken place has been thoroughly cleansed in a seeming attempt at covering the killer's footprints. A few days later, the creature attacks a stable, killing a horse, the keeper and her daughter, leaving one survivor, an 8-year-old boy. Pascal arrives at the scene, only to find Penward's men already there, towing a concealed animal with a helicopter. Pascal interviews the boy, who reveals that the killer was not a tiger, but a dinosaur. After unsuccessfully trying to interview Penward's men, Pascal moves on to begin a sexual relationship with Penward's nymphomaniac wife, who eventually takes him to her private quarters.

From there, Pascal enters the zoo, only to discover that it is filled with dinosaurs. He is captured and given a tour of the establishment. He sees a variety of different species, mostly carnivorous, including the dinosaur that had escaped earlier which is identified as a Deinonychus, a sexually frustrated Megalosaurus and a Tarbosaurus. Penward explains that he recreated the dinosaurs by studying the DNA fragments found in dinosaur fossils, then using them as a basis for restructuring the DNA of chickens. He goes as far as saying that he intends to let his dinosaurs loose in remote areas of the world where they could flourish and eventually spread after what he considers an inevitable Third World War. Pascal is imprisoned, only to be rescued by Lady Penward, but only after promising that he permanently commit to her. As they make their escape, Pascal notices that his ex-girlfriend Jenny Stamper, also a reporter, has been caught in the act of infiltrating Penward's zoo. Enraged at his insistence on helping her, Lady Penward releases the dinosaurs and other animals present in the zoo. Sir Penward is seriously wounded by an escaped bull and captures his maddened wife.

Pascal and Jenny escape to the authorities, but are not believed until reports begin flooding in on mysterious deaths. A pleasure boat is attacked by a plesiosaur, a Dilophosaurus kills a Member of Parliament, the Megalosaurus gets run over by a lorry, an Altispinax attacks a herd of cows, a Scolosaurus confronts a FV101 Scorpion, and the Tarbosaurus destroys a pub before invading people's gardens. The British Army is called, and soon many dinosaurs are killed. The next day, Pascal goes to visit Jenny at her home, only to find her badly injured, and her family dead; killed by a Deinonychus which Pascal kills with a pitchfork. Meanwhile, the dying Sir Penward imprisons his wife in a farmhouse, where she is devoured alive by two newly hatched Tyrannosaurs. At the conclusion of the story, aside from the baby Tyrannosaurs, the only other dinosaur left alive is a baby Brachiosaurus.


Brosnan wrote that he first became interested in writing a novel on dinosaurs in 1983, when a film journalist colleague of his returned from Hollywood and told him that dinosaur films would be an upcoming fad. Brosnan sent his manuscript to Star Books and it was published in 1984. Brosnan was disappointed that the predicted boom in dinosaur films never occurred, and the novel received little attention in the UK. The novel was first published in the United States in 1989 by Bart Books, though with little success.[2]

Although Brosnan disliked Roger Corman's film adaptation of the novel, he nonetheless credited it with having raised greater awareness of his original story.[2]

See also[edit]

  • Carnosaur, a 1993 film loosely based on the Brosnan novel