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Is the Study of Dinosaurs Science?



I have been working the past few weeks on an elementary school curriculum 
unit on dinosaurs, and someone commented to me that a county/district 
level administrator had complained: "Dinosaurs are not science. I wish 
they would take them out of the curriculum." I haven't had a chance to 
ask the administrator why he/she felt that way, but thought I would poll 
the readership here for their comments and responses as supporting testimony.

My guess is that the administrator feels that the study of dinosaurs is 
not science because so much of the popularly visible aspects of 
paleontology is speculation. We speculate about: 1) whether dinosaurs 
were warm- or cold-blooded; 2) whether the dinosaurs became extinct 
because of climate changes or a meteor impact (or diseases et al); 3) 
whether birds are dinosaurs; 4) whether the front legs of Triceratops 
and other quadrupeds were oriented directly below the body or slightly 
sprawled; 5) whether carnosaurs were scavengers or predators... You can 
fill in more "speculative questions" about just about anything from color 
to diet. Considering that so much is speculation that may never be 
resolved, this administrator probably thinks the study of dinosaurs is 
very unscientific and of questionable value in a public school setting.

I personally feel that children can use the study of dinosaurs as a 
springboard to exercising basic math and science skills from measuring 
height, length, weight to classification and evolution.

I am interested in responses from the folks on this list to the argument 
that the study of dinosaurs is not science. Please indicate whether you 
are a professional paleontologist, geologist, oceanographer, astronomer, etc.

(I suppose one could argue that [from the administrator's perspective] 
cosmology is not a science because trying to determine the origin of the 
universe is largely speculation.)

----- Amado Narvaez
      anarvaez@umd5.umd.edu