Big, Fierce, Extinct
From the moment dinosaurs were discovered in the early 19th century, they were used as a symbol of wild, uncontrollable nature; this is an image that is perpetuated until today's Jurassic Park/World film series. But does this image hold true? And does our fascination with these animals as monsters hinder our ability to study them scientifically, to understand them and the world they inhabited? A world that disappeared multiple times, and that might give us some idea of the dangers we face ourselves?
Ilja Nieuwland is a cultural historian of science attached to the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is mainly interested in the history of the life and earth sciences. Last year, he published American Dinosaur Abroad. A Cultural History of Carnegie's Plaster Diplodocus (University of Pittsburgh Press).