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Re: DINO Commercialization

 From: Ralph W. Miller III <gbabcock@best.com>
 To: dinosaur@usc.edu
 Subject: DINO Commercialization
 Date: Saturday, August 09, 1997 6:00 PM

 Dear all,
I must chime in on this one.  There are some points people should bear in
mind about these movie tie-in museum exhibits.

Numero Uno:  They <can> be educational.  Speaking as one of the many
volunteers who accompanied the <Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park> exhibition, I
recall clearly how that installation included signs specifically aimed at
debunking the inaccuracies presented by  the film, <Jurassic Park>, and the
movie dinos on display.  So right in front of the dreadfully fanciful
<Dilophosaurus> there was a sign explaining that this representation was
not accurate.  Furthermore, the exhibit featured a T. rex 
that was not a cast of the film version and was described as being more
accurate than the movie T. rex.  And as a fossil cart docent, I had the
sublime pleasure of showing visitors the actual size fossil replica of the
true <Velociraptor> skull.  In many respects, I viewed the exhibit as more
a debriefing session than a commercial per se.

Numero Two-o:  Universal Studios, Stan Winston Studio, Spielberg et al, in
association with The Dinosaur Society, set up the JP touring exhibition
with the express purpose of returning a portion of the proceeds to dinosaur
research, a notoriously underfunded science (like I really needed to tell
you folks that)!  Spielberg allegedly said that he would not be in favor of
any JP exhibition unless it benefited dinosaur science.  By The Dinosaur
Society's reckoning, as reported in the latest issue of <The Dinosaur
Report>, the show had netted nearly a million dollars for The Dinosaur
Society to funnel directly into dinosaur research.  No, cladists, that's
not chicken feed.  Perhaps we should be a bit more grateful to these
<stinking rich> capitalist pigs (I threw in the capitalist pigs myself).

Let's face it: you can't please everybody.  Some paleontologists consider
it cheating to show the public anything but actual fossil bones still
locked in their matrices.  Others, including Dr. Jack Horner, have
expressed the importance of presenting fleshed out reconstructions of
(non-avian) dinosaurs as we believe they would have appeared in life. 
While the former approach is undoubtedly more accurate, the latter will
help the public to see these impressive creatures not just as dusty relics
with really long names, but as living, breathing animals who played a big
part in the history of life on earth.

Ralph W. Miller III
email: gbabcock@best.com

"Don't be alarmed, ladies and gentlemen.  Those chains are made of chrome