Liopleurodons were the largest of the ancient Pilosaurs and arguably one of the greatest carnivores to ever exist. Back in the day, they were the size of a whale and looked somewhat like a crocodile and a shark. According to author M.B. Zucker, the short-necked plesiosaur transformed hunting into an art form, “A master of its craft,” he said, “the Liopleurodon was the Shakespeare or Beethoven of preying on reptiles and fish within Jurassic waters.
When an 80-foot, 150-ton living Liopleurodon was found frozen in a block of ice, the impact on science was immeasurable. It was the year 1911 and paleontology was experiencing its golden age. “Let’s take a moment to appreciate the biggest discovery in our field’s history,” said one awestruck scholar.
The moment didn’t last long, however. Almost immediately, the Liopleurodon was abducted from a U.S. Naval base and released into the Atlantic Ocean. The aquatic monster quickly reclaimed its apex predator status and started gobbling up everything in sight. It hadn’t had a snack in 155 million years and it was hangry.
Over night, the giant marine reptile became a geopolitical pawn (or maybe a rook or a bishop) for a big ol’ game of pre-WWI chess. Both the United States and Germany saw the potential of using the prehistoric beast as a weapon of war. Whoever harnessed the Liopleurodon could hypothetically create chaos in key seaports and disrupt naval logistics in their favor.
This was when things became really, really interesting. Without a doubt, the Liopleurodon was a fearsome ocean master, but its fearsomeness paled against the ever-lovin’ charisma of papa bear Theodore Roosevelt.
Currently living life as an ex-President, Roosevelt was actively looking for some kind of publicity stunt to propel him back into the White House in the upcoming election of 1912. What better way was there than securing a compliant sea-roaming leviathan for the U.S. Navy? If his machinations proved successful, he would outmaneuver German Kaiser Wilhelm II and become the U.S. President once again.
Throughout the novel, Roosevelt was a great big hoot. Always larger than life, he commanded the narrative and chewed up the scenery in the best possible way. Certainly he was a macho man (as defined by his generation), but he was also an articulate guy with an appreciation for poetry. He was keenly aware of the situation in front of him. “Roosevelt’s enemy was the Liopleurodon,” wrote Zucker. “Conquering it was his ultimate challenge.”
The story’s climax finally arrives as Roosevelt and the sea creature have their long awaited showdown in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. On hand to witness the event was a German dreadnaught and a private yacht with Winston Church onboard. As a reader, I was onboard too. In fact, the finale made me a little sad. “Why can’t reality be as exciting as this?” I thought to myself as I shut down my Kindle for the night.
[Liopleurodon: The Master of the Deep / By M.B. Zucker / First Printing: September 2022 / ISBN: 9798986256450]