February 17th

The Gateway to Science

Many, if not most, children go through a “dinosaur phase.” It’s almost a rite of passage. Some of these fascinations last a few weeks or a few months. Some persist for years. Some cases are even terminal. But whether young or old, learning about dinosaurs prompts a cavalcade of consideration in a wide range of subject matter.

Sinornithosaurus / AMNH
Sinornithosaurus / AMNH

Dinosaurs belong to the natural world of the past, but their world has grown into our own. So studying nature and dinosaurs requires inquiry into biology, ecology, and evolution. Seeking for origins, we plunge into physics and chemistry. The forces that shape the world are important too, geology and plate tectonics and continental drift. Then there’s geography–where the dinosaurs lived and where the museums that house them stand.

The names of the dinosaurs are tongue-twisting miniature sonatas for voice that beguile young ears into a love of language. The stories of bone hunters and science through the generations prompts an appreciation for human history as well as natural history. We learn the techniques that artists and movie makers use to resurrected ancient beasts. We learn about fossil preparation and casting, museum exhibits, and how animatronic dinosaurs operate. We learn about where to see dinosaur sculptures along our roadways and where fossilized trackways lie exposed in the rock.

Dinosaurs are indeed the gateway to science, but they are the gateway to much more than that. They are the catalyst for critical thinking and a worldview rooted in reality and reason. They are the path through which our eager minds find the connections that link us to all of nature.

What’s your favorite part of dinosaur fandom? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.