No, not as you’d imagine, The Lost World but another mention. While Conan-Doyle rightly gets a lot of praise for really helping to excite the public with tales of live dinosaurs (and pterosaurs and the rest) and is commemorated with his own pterosaur (Arthudactylus conandoylei if you were wondering) it’s not the only time they get a mention in his works. I suspect it’s largely unknown, but Conan-Doyle wrote several more stories based around Ed Malone and Professor Challenger, and generally featuring Lord Roxton and Professor Summerlee from The Lost World too.
One of these is a short story of just a dozen pages entitled The Disintegration Machine. It’s a real favourite of mine and when I stumbled across the compendium of Challenger-based stories the other day I reread it. Lurking just a couple of pages in is this little statement from the Professor:
“It was in the course of your somewhat fatuous remarks concerning the recent Saurian remains discovered in the Solenhofen [sic] slates.”
The story was first published in 1929 and Conan-Doyle was a doctor by training and clearly had more than a passing familiarity to the sciences and anatomy. He tended to write about the contemporary world so it’s not unreasonable to suppose he was discussing some relatively recent development or discovery. While obviously the term ‘saurian’ is more than a little general, it does at least rule out quite a lot. A quick search shows that there was no obviously monumental discovery in the 1920s (things like Archaeopteryx, Compsognathus and Pterodactylus having been unearthed long before). I’m not expert enough to delve through the literature of the crocodylomorphs or more basal reptiles from the Solnhofen, though intriguingly Anurognathus was described in the 1920s and Germanodactylus cristatus was erected to generic status just a set years before the story came out.
OK, so it’s a bit of a longshot that we can even vaguely identify a taxon or specimen that Conan-Doyle was thinking of (assuming of course he even did have something specific in mind). Still, it is clear he did know that this was a place famous for its reptilian remains and presumably thought the general public would know it and recognise the name check. If nothing else it’s simply nice to think that he didn’t just dabble in dinosaurs for his one classic, but kept these animals in mind and perhaps even kept up with the science enough to use them again another time.