by Gabriel Santos1
In the world of education, we often hear complaints that people know more about celebrities and fictional characters than about science. Taking a moment to scroll through Twitter or Instagram, it can be easy to agree with such complaints. It can be a constant struggle for educators to find a way to make abstract concepts from science more interesting than ideas from fiction, like the Force or giant robots. But what if there were a way to use people’s fascination with pop culture as a tool for education? What if there were a way to use pop culture to make science relatable and accessible? What if there were a way to use pop culture to make scientists and educators more approachable? That is where the Cosplay for Science Initiative comes in.
The Cosplay for Science I
by Szymon Górnicki*1
Non-avian dinosaurs are iconic animals that dominated life on land for 170 million years during the Mesozoic era, and have captured the imagination of scientists and non-scientists alike for as long as we have known about them. As a result, dinosaurs have also dominated palaeoart — artistic representations of past life. Palaeoart is closely linked to the science of palaeontology, resulting from the desire to reconstruct what extinct organisms looked like when they were alive, and is increasingly informed by the latest scientific discoveries. This article provides a brief historical account of dinosaur palaeoart, explaining how this work has changed as our understanding of the anatomy and biology of dinosaurs has improved.
by Brittney Stoneburg*1
Natural history museums are not just exhibit space: a lot of scientific research is conducted behind the scenes. This is the nature of almost any museum. It is often not logistically or financially possible to exhibit every object, and not every fossil is suitable to go on display. The fossils that the public doesn’t see are still important for research, but this is a part of museum work that is often hidden from the public at large. I work at the Western Science Center in Hemet, California. Visitors have no access to our repository, and are often amazed when they learn that less than 5% of our palaeontology collections can currently be seen.
Through an upcoming exhibition and scientific workshop, we are endeavouring to use exhibit space and the I
by Szymon Górnicki*1
Dinosaurs fit perfectly into the role of movie monsters: many were enormous, or had distinctive characteristics such as spikes, horns, claws and big teeth. The fact that they aren’t found in the modern world (except for birds) excites the imagination, and films represent some of the few opportunities to see them as they may have looked when they were alive. It’s not surprising that the history of movies featuring dinosaurs goes back more than 100 years.
The cinematographic rise of the dinosaurs:
The first moving picture featuring dinosaurs was Prehistoric Peeps (1905), an adaptation of a cartoon with the same name. The film launched the popular trend of showing primitive humans and non-avian dinosaurs living alongside one another, even though the foss
by Marc Laflamme*1 and Paul A. E. Piunno1
Scientific research is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, drawing together experts from a range of fields to generate knowledge and address major problems. This is particularly true for palaeontology, which stands at the intersection of a wide array of disciplines including geology, biology, chemistry, materials science, statistics and biomechanics. Although scientific innovation is principally driven by trained scientists, research opportunities often present themselves to others — in palaeontology, this can tie into the strong public interest in famous extinct animals such as dinosaurs and mammoths. Indeed, palaeontology has an extensive history of important contributions by people without formal training, from Mary Anning’s