•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:
Conception of the metaphorical "dinosaur" is still very much a Victorian/early 20th
Century version of Dinosauria, not reflecting the changing scientific understanding:
Mighty body but tiny brain
A long history of dinosaurs in the popular eye.
Dinosaurians in the Victorian Era:
Pre-Owen "dinosaurs" thought of as unrelated giant lizards
Owen's original 1841 presentation was to a general audience
Dinosauria really became well-known via the Crystal Palace exhibits
Immediately showed up in political cartoons, books, etc.
Replaced other creatures (dodos, mammoths, ichthyosaurs) in this context
Became the main attractions in museums, via Marsh, Cope, etc.
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:
Name comes from an article in Scientific American from 1975 by Robert T. Bakker
Represents the introduction of new scientific interpretations of dinosaurs to the public
Caught on in the mid-1970s, and has proceded unabated:
Many popular science books, with many geared for adults as well as kids
Lots and lots of news articles
Changed the illustrated versions of dinosaurs in realistic and in cartoon form
The rise of computer generated graphics and digital film technology allowed entirely new types of special effects for:
Popular movies such as the Jurassic Park series
TV documentaries such as the Walking with Dinosaurs series and sequels
The Dinosaur Renaissance also led a lot of students to pursue careers in paleontology:
more people working in vertebrate paleontology in general, and dinosaur paleontology in
particular, than ever before
Why are dinosaurs so popular?
Weird and wonderful
Fearsome, but harmless, since "they are extinct" (okay, this idea fails under scientific scrutiny, but...)
A way to introduce natural sciences in an entertaining way
(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!