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RE: What do you hate about dino-docs?



While I agree that dinosaur feathers would have been difficult if not
impossible to pull off for Jurassic Park or Walking with Dinosaurs, I lament
that several more recent CG productions have not provided more up-to-date
restorations.  

JP and WWD are profitable franchises, of course, and unfortunately their
producers have a financial interest in maintaining consistency in their
trademarked dinosaur images.  While this is completely understandable from a
pragmatic business perspective, the result is that their sequels and
spin-offs perpetuate antiquated stereotypes of scaly coelurosaurs, in spite
of the preponderance of fossil evidence supporting feathered coelurosaurs.  

This in turn promotes the perception that maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs
were neither endothermic nor especially bird-like, again in spite of the
fossil record.  Furthermore, the scaly coelurosaur paradigm makes it more
difficult for the public to see a smooth transition between these creatures
and today's birds, despite the theropodan origin of birds being one of the
fossil record's best illustrated examples of transitional forms between two
familiar -- and apparently distinct -- animal lineages.  So the dearth of
feathered dinosaurs in new dinosaur programs undermines the public's
appreciation for the reality of macroevolution, and people are thus less
well equipped to analyze the weaknesses of faith-based "competing theories."

I don't mean to denigrate the impressive accomplishments of the artists and
technicians who work on these programs and who are in no way responsible for
making the decision whether or not to apply feathers to particular animals.

And I have no desire for my offhand comment about personally boycotting
"Walking with Dinosaurs: the Live Experience" for its absence of feathers to
prevent anyone who is otherwise interested from experiencing the show for
themselves.  

Nor do I intend to spearhead a feathered dinosaur political movement, even
though the inviting prospect of sporting colorful feathered protest garb has
not escaped me.  Then again, given the impact of recent oil spills on extant
bird populations, the last thing birds need now is a run on their
filamentous adornments.

And just between us, we know that there really were feathered coelurosaurs,
don't we?

Dino Guy Ralph
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

Microraptor for president;
Incisivosaurus for veep