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dinosaurs and the media

Dear Vrtpaleo folks:

As some of you might have noticed on the NAPC program, there will be a
session on "Dinosaurs in the Public Eye." (As a science magazine
editor, I suppose I must be a retinal nerve.)  Jim Clarke, who is
organizing it, wants to have a panel discussion at the end of the
session about how the high public profile accorded to dinosaur
research affects dinosaur paleontology. As a panelist, I've been
mulling this issue a bit and thought I would post a few questions
here. Any responses would be deeply appreciated, and they might even
lead to an interesting thread of discussion here.

1. Do people who work with dinosaurs feel much effect on their
research from the great media machine in this Jurassic Park age--for
good or bad (i.e., too much pressure to deliver rock-em-sock-em
results as opposed to less flashy but no less important work)?

2.  How do paleontologists who DON'T work with dinosaurs feel about
the role of dinosaur paleontology? Does it grab too much attention? Or
is the coverage of their work good for the paleontological community
as a whole, since it gets the public interested about fossils?

3. Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to how disproportionate
dinosaur coverage is, if at all, versus other extinct taxa? (Choose
your own criterion: diversity, longevity of major groups, etc.)

Many thanks for your time--and many apologies for cross-posting.


Carl Zimmer

Senior Editor, Discover
phone: (212) 633-4836
fax: (212) 633-4817

114 5th Ave., 15th Floor
New York, NY 10011