GEOL 104 Dinosaurs: A Natural History

Fall Semester 2017
Walking with Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park: Dinosaurs in Pop Culture

Brontosaurus as animated by Willis O'Brien in the 1925 silent movie The Lost World

Key Points:
•Cladistics (phylogenetic systematics) is a method for approximating the evolutionary relationships among taxa.
•Cladistics works by trying to reconstruct the pattern of common ancestry rather than finding direct ancestor-descendant relationships.
•Not all traits are equally useful for reconstructing phylogenetic relationships: only shared evolutionary transformations help us determine phylogenetic patterns.
•Phylogenetic information can be used as a basis for taxonomy; as a means of inferring missing and ancestral information; and for determining the time of divergence between lineages.

Dinosaurs as Metaphor:

A long history of dinosaurs in the popular eye.

Dinosaurians in the Victorian Era:

During 20th Century, dinosaurs got the reputation of being "kids stuff" and not "real science". Explosion in dinosaur kid's books, toys, etc.

Many popular (and generally youth-oriented) versions of dinosaurs in early 20th Century books (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, Edgar Rice Burroughs Earth's Core and Land that Time Forgot), comic strips, and movies galore:
Gertie the Dinosaur (1914, one of the first cartoons ever made):

The Lost World (1925, one of the first full-length stop-motion special effects movies) (some clips):

King Kong (1933: like The Lost World it used the paleoart of Charles R. Knight for the dinosaur models.) (Here is the classic "Kong vs. oversized Tyrannosaurus fight):

Another burst of dinosaur popularity (replaying the earlier one) in the 1950s, via American and Japanese monster movies.

The Dinosaur Renaissance:

Why are dinosaurs so popular?

(The last reason, of course, is the justification for this course!)

A Reminder: Don't forget that the final exam is on Dec. 19, TUESDAY!!, from 8:00-10:00!

To Previous Lecture.
To Lecture Schedule.

Last modified: 6 July 2017

Tyrannosaurus triumphant, in the conclusion of the 1993 movie Jurassic Park