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Re: In defense of the USNM (getting longer)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tracy L. Ford" <dino.hunter@cox.net>
To: "Dinonet (E-mail)" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 11:46 PM
Subject: RE: In (premature) defense of the USNM

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Michael Skrepnick
> Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 12:25 PM
> To: Dinosaur List
> Subject: Re: In (premature) defense of the USNM
> Ahh, now to prove to everyone I'm not a hot headed computer typer...(I
> :)
> > You know I respect Dan and Mike very much, but ah, hey guy's simmer
> > The Smithsonian just had Peter Rabbit as an exhibit at the Smithsonian
> > jeepers sake! WE do not OWN dinosaurs. Jim Gurney does do good work and
> > see NO REASON why the Smithsonian shouldn't display his work or story.
> > need to get off our high horses and let kids imaginations run wild! Let
> them
> > enjoy the exhibit and then explore paleontology as it really is. Besides
> > most of the dinosaur skeletons at the Smithsonian are wrong, why not
> > complain about that if you need to complain. Hell, most of the newly
> mounted
> > dinosaur skeletons at the AMNH are wrong.
> *** I have no problem with Gurney's work being displayed at the Smith,
> that the exhibit might be more effective at an alternative site to the
> paleontology
> galleries.  As you say, we don't own dinosaurs, but maybe we still have
> responsibility to separate "fact" from "fiction" when it serves the common
> interest.
> Gurney's creation is a fictional world and while it is appealing to many
> us with a
> common interest in dinosaurs, it still should be separated from the
> For
> example, as has been pointed out on this list, Jim elects to render small
> theropods
> as unfeathered ( which suits the characters, as he's developed them ),<<
> Ok, lets look at this point. When did Jim start his work and what was
> at that time? NO FEATHERS on theropods. Sure he can change his theropods,
> but then he'd have to change his whole world and explain that hey, I was
> wrong when I started but I'll change everything now but can't explain why
> that happened in his world.

*** Now you're repeating what I said (read the last sentence I wrote just
your preceding paragraph.  Jim doesn't feather his theropods because the
unfeathered look suits his "characters" as he's already "developed" them.

> So your going to tell a child who loves dinosaurs that he can't see
> dinosaurs from Dinotopia at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where
> he/she knows dinosaurs are but at an Art Museum all because of
> 'Scientist/dino artist" didn't like it at the USNM because it was fiction?
> Won't work, they know where dinosaurs are suppose to be. And I really
> think it's the ones who are really into dinosaurs that need to be shown
> difference, it's the adults and those who 'fake' knowing dinosaurs (we've
> all meet them). I say it's better at the USNM because there THEY WOULD be
> able to tell people the difference and not at an ART museum, but the Art
> museum would only be interested in the 'art' and not the 'science'. Kind
> a catch 22.

*** Sorry, but go to the dinosaur halls to learn about dinosaurs and go to
the art
museum to enjoy masterfully painted fictional art (dinosaurs or otherwise).
It won't
hurt the kids to be exposed to a broader range of artwork also displayed in
an art
museum.  The visitors to the paleo exhibits who are unfamiliar with what
trying to learn about will have an easier time of it without having to
interpret the
fictional element.

> >>however, when
> these images appear in the context of a science exhibit, they to a degree
> "undermine"
> the perception of small theropods having a feathery integument.  In Jim's
> "world" this
> is fine, but to onlookers who see his reasonably portrayed "naked" small
> theropods
> in relatively close proximity to a display that is teaching people about
> insulating
> covering on small theropods, there is then ambiguity ( not to "us" who
> a working
> knowledge of such things, but to the public who don't necessarily). I
> that a
> physical separation of factual displays from fictional, remedies the
> and however
> small it might seem, that is still the point.<<
> I doubt the majority of lay people even know about this debate. Now if it
> was some sports team, the whole world would be on it! Hmmmm....perhaps we
> should come up with something like that, maybe then there'd be lots of
> funding...

*** The way lay people will best be able to understand issues concerning
dinosaurs is if the information is presented in a clear, concise and
unambiguous way.
Exhibits like Dinotopia are not helping in this matter, they have a
completely different
purpose that being strictly entertainment, which is what makes the comment
in the
press release about people gaining a greater understanding of dinosaurs
through their
fictional encounters with man, so erroneous.

>   If the skeletal mounts,
> etc... are problematic,
> they should be corrected also, but the situation still should not be
> exacerbated by
> perceptual problems related to additional fictional imagery.<<
> > The Smithsonian is free so they aren't getting any money from people,
> of
> > course studios do, but that's how they make money.
> *** Mine was a generalized observation of the problems incurred when
> commercialization rears it's ugly head, not directed at museum agendas.<<
> It happens to draw people to the museums, I doubt it'll stop.

*** No contest here. I've no doubt museums will showcase whatever
materials the public wants to see, and so they should ( just set it up in
the right
place when doing it ).

> > So, it's ok to EXPLOTE other natural science (or Science Fiction for
> > matter) and not paleontology? We can't tell people that it's not ok to
> > something but ok to do it with others.
> *** Sure I can. . . Watch me!  :o)  I was kidding about the other movie
> "victims".
> Since most of these unfortunate subjects have succumbed to mutilization or
> "mutantization" in typical Hollywood overkill style, most of this
> titillizing swill
> flatlines at the box office anyway.<<
> No argument in how Hollywood works.
> >>Besides do we really want the movies
> > to be 100% accurate? Then people would really believe everything they
> ***You mean show them the truth?  What a concept!!  I can't think of a
> single
> instance wherein anatomical distortion or embellishment of any of the JP
> dinosaurs made them any more "groovy" then had they gone with the real
> thing. The thinking is, "let's spend millions to make it look ALIVE and
> let's screw up what they look like, just because we cannnn. . . But how
> many people went to museums afterwards asking why the T.rex skeleton
> has a funny long bone hanging down between it's legs ( or was it just
> to see ya' ) or why the Dilophosaurus doesn't have the "frill" and poison
> spitting apparatus.  If we just assume that the public should know better,
> because they "know" it's only fiction, then. . . why don't they?<<
> I was totally with you on this until about 6 months ago or so. Look in the
> archives and see how I voiced my objection to Hollywood and how they get
> dinosaurs wrong. What changed my mind was the interview I did with Jack
> Horner for Prehistoric Times. It's just a movie and should be just a
> We all know Movies screws things up and will continue to. IF just one
> and only one movie was done correctly then the 'lay person' will say, if
> that one was done right, then all the rest must have been done right. This
> would be a much bigger problem and harder to argue against, but if they
> all done wrong, then that argument is easier in that way.

*** Here's the distinction.
It IS just a movie AND I don't actually have a problem with the movie as
 an entertainment vehicle.  I DO however, have a problem with the "fall out"
from the movie in how it ties up resources within the science and causes
a lot of inane dialogue and questions posed to paleontologists, who have
more important things to be doing with their time. The problem is the time
it takes to "undo" all the misconceptions the public assumes are realistic
in terms of the dinosaurs, simply BECAUSE they know their were paleo
advisors working on the film and conclude the dinosaurs are grounded in
science. As a follow up counterpoint interview to the one with Jack, do one
with Mike Trcic about what it's like creating dinosaurs, when it's "just a

> > This is why I write my How to Draw Dinosaurs articles for Prehistoric
> Times.
> > To help the professionals and lay person alike (not that the
> > actually listen to me that is, I'm not exactly contacted by ANY
> > paleontologist doing a book on accurately portraying dinosaurs and I
> > the majority of them. Ignored? )
> >>*** Maybe you need to approach a paleontologist ( of your choosing),
> rather
> than the other way around.  It may simply be, that PhD's who are aware of
> your articles, assume you are content in developing the series on your own
> and
> aren't aware that you are interested in a collaboration.<<
> You mean like going up to Phil, Jack, Dave Weishampel, Ken Carpenter, the
> publishers of Random House, Indian University Press, Dr. Pfel Volg,
> Park, the curators of museums (and all the others that I've not
> given them copies of my articles, books, explaining that I can help them
> with accurately rendering dinosaurs? Been there, done that to a point I
> want to give up and just do things I want to do. It's rather frustrating
> I think I know why, no degree or Phd. I had this talk with the kids (young
> paleontologist on the way up, I'm older than them, so their kids...) at
> Philadelphia and those without the degree get ignored.

***Hmmm, . . . Well I know you've had posters at SVP and that Darren Tanke
and others have coauthored papers on numerous occasions without benefit of a
degree. . . could it be related to availability of time?  Maybe if the PhD's
less time explaining the absence of J.P. frills in real Dilophosaur mounts,
they might
have more expendable time to address collaborative projects with serious
students (insert your name here ________ )of the field, who are just trying
to make
available GOOD information to their peers and the public.  As the case may
be, I'm
sure you won't be deterred from continuing publication of your dinosaur
articles, nor should you, as I and many others enjoy the content of your

> > >>Artwork that includes dinosaurs within modern fiction stray much
> > afield, but don't do any favors in helping the public make the
> > between dinosaur art "extrapolated from real fossil material" and
> > art that resembles the "real thing". In the end, the forum in which the
> > artwork is displayed may make a big difference in how said art is
> perceived
> > by the masses and while I wish Jim every success, I think the exhibit
> would
> > have better served on display at an alternate venue.<<
> >
>  I hope you don't mean that people shouldn't include dinosaurs in their
> > science fiction? I doubt many of us would be here if we ever did.
> >
> ***Not at all, some of the best fiction out there has a dinosaurian
> component. My
> ONLY concern is to draw (no pun) a clear distinction between what is
> considered
> fact and fiction, for those members of the populace who lack the
> with
> the subject matter we have.<<
> And with this I totally agree.

*** See, relatively painless and concerning your "anger management" comment
at the outset, if any symptoms persist, take two Tylenol with codeine and
call me
in the morning. :0}


> > Mike Skrepnick
> >
> Tracy L. Ford
> P. O. Box 1171
> Poway Ca  92074