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Dinosaurs are pointless: Working with dinosaurs

Dino-Devotion Season's continues with a controversial talk

We are all used to seeing dinosaurs in museums, on TV and in the cinema but what do we learn from studying dinosaurs? Join us as palaeontologist Mark Carnall, the Museum’s Curator, discusses the Freudian obsession that dinosaurologists have with describing the biggest dinosaurs, and walks us through the clichéd world of dinosaur documentary making. Palaeontological programmes show bearded eccentrics making “the most important discovery ever”, always on the last day of the dig. They then enthusiastically reconstruct giant beasts - with double-decker buses as the unit of measurement - based on the smallest of fragments. Carnall will explain why most dinosaurs on display in museums are models, and what we see on TV is often science act, not science fact.

This light-hearted talk puts dinosaurs in their proper place. For a long time these prehistoric Hollywood creatures have hogged the limelight, but really they are minor players in palaeontology today. Their fossils are only useful for telling us about the individual animal and are of little use in reconstructing past environments. From fossil fragments, palaeontologists reconstruct the giant beasts which fill the halls of many natural history museums and grace the screen with their CGI presence.

Following the talk, join us for a free glass of wine in a private view of the Museum. This event is free and there is no need to book.


Mark Carnall | talks


Date and Time:

25 November 2008 at 6:30 pm


2 hours



Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL
Rockefeller Building
University Street
020 3108 2052

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