Interview - Anne Brusatte on 'Dugie the Dinosaur' and the phenomenal fossils of the Isle of Sky
Updated: Jun 20
Over recent years, Scotland has proven an immensely awesome place to find Dinosaur fossils. In particular, it’s the Isle of Sky that has set Dinosaur fans’ tongues wagging like an Iguanodon chasing a ball on national tongue wagging day. The Island is cram-packed full of Dinosaur fossils. There are loads of fantastic Dino footprints there, a new species of Ichthyosaur was discovered there, and – pretty recently – the world's largest Jurassic pterosaur was uncovered too.
An absolute treasure trove of Dino-related goodies then.
It makes sense then, that will all these discoveries, there should be a few books written about the fossils of the Isle of Sky. What makes ‘Dugie the Dinosaur’ so interesting though, is that it is a book written with children in mind. It's accessible but also thoroughly researched to a very high standard, making it an ideal read for any young budding palaeontologists in the making!
We wanted to find out more about 'Dugie the Dinosaur', so who better to speak to than the author herself, Anne Brusatte? No one, that’s who!
We spoke to Anne about Stegosaurs called Stocky, tire-sized footprints, and dinosaurs decked out with mohawks. We loved our chat and we’re sure you will too!
Imagining History - Could you tell our readers a little about your book ‘Dugie the Dinosaur’?
Anne Brusatte - Dugie the dinosaur is based on the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the Jurassic period 170 million years ago and is all about the adventures of a long-necked dinosaur and his friends as they navigate a lagoon and dangers in a forest!
What led you to write ‘Dugie the Dinosaur?’
I am married to a real-life palaeontologist and have been lucky enough to go to the Isle of Skye and learn a lot about these amazing creatures and how and where they lived. There has not been a book about Scottish dinosaurs before and a lot of people don’t even know that dinosaurs lived in Scotland! So I really wanted to write a story that was all about the animals that lived on my doorstep; as well as keeping it as scientifically accurate as possible!
Where did the inspiration behind your characters Dugie the Dinosaur, Scottie the Stegosaur, and Maggie the Pterodactyl come from?
All of the animals in the story (and in the beautiful illustrations by Shalla Gray) would have really lived in Scotland; they are all based off real fossils. It was really important to me to only used dinosaurs that would have lived in Scotland – so no T. rex sadly!
The names were a lot of fun too. Dugie is named after Dugald ‘Dugie’ Ross, an Isle of Skye native who built and runs the Staffin Museum and has found many dinosaurs on the island. Maggie is names after Maggie Fyffe, from the Isle of Eigg heritage trust, who watches over the island in much the same way as Maggie watches over the dinosaurs in the story. Eigg is a small island near Skye where some small dinosaur discoveries have also been found. Scottie is named after his homeland of Scotland!
How did you make the story accessible for primary school children?
I have taught primary school for many years and have met children who know far more about dinosaurs than I ever will! I wanted to be sure that there was real and accurate information in the story, but at the same time keeping it a fun story that could be read aloud to a class or quietly by an individual. To keep some facts but not interrupt the story, we used Lucky the Borealestes – a small mouse-like mammal. She appears on different pages to tell us facts, and she would have lived on Skye with the other characters as well.
The Isle of Sky is heaven for Dinosaur enthusiasts, what other Dinosaur fossils have been found there?
A number of footprints have been found of sauropods (long-neck dinosaurs like Dugie), stegosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs, and different meat-eating dinosaurs – some of whom would have been the size of jeeps! A great place to see some of these is at Duntulum, the ruins of a castle overlooking the beach with tire-sized dinosaur footprints. Teeth and bones have also been found; a beautiful and near complete skeleton of a Maggie like pterosaur (a cousin of dinosaurs) was found and was recently unveiled at the National Museum of Scotland.
If you could be any Dinosaur, which would you be and why?
I am quite short, so I would absolutely be a long-necked dinosaur as they got so tall!
What one awesome fact about Dinosaurs should every primary school child know?
Every mammal on earth has some kind of hair – even elephants have thin hair and whales have whiskers.
Dinosaurs were much the same, but with feathers! Every dinosaur would have had some kind of feathers, probably small, thin feathers. Soft tissue doesn’t preserve as well as bone, so it’s hard to know exactly what the feathers would have looked like; I would love to think Dugie could have in fact had a massive mohawk down his back!
A huge high-five to Anne for taking the time out to answer our questions!
You can find out more about 'Dugie the Dinosaur' on the Curly Tale Books website - check it out!