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Why We Love Dinosaurs

An attraction to dinosaurs

Children's attraction to dinosaurs suggests that the giant creatures appeal to something innate in the human psyche.

A simple explanation is that images of dinosaurs convey the excitement of danger while posing no real threat. From a child's point of view, dinosaurs are very old and very big, just like grown-ups.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Why We Love Dinosaurs

Why We Love Dinosaurs

http://nautil.us/issue/67/reboot/why-we-love-dinosaurs

nautil.us

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Key Ideas

Dinosaurs by different names

People have always known about dinosaurs but called them by different names.

  • Old legends that put Western dragons in caves or underground may have originated with fossils.
  • The plumed serpent is described in mythologies of Mexico and Latin America.
  • The Rainbox Serpent of Aboriginal tales was since the beginning of time.
  • The Asian dragon combines features of many animals.

An attraction to dinosaurs

Children's attraction to dinosaurs suggests that the giant creatures appeal to something innate in the human psyche.

A simple explanation is that images of dinosaurs convey the excitement of danger while posing no real threat. From a child's point of view, dinosaurs are very old and very big, just like grown-ups.

Inspiring fantasy

By inspiring fantasy in children, dinosaurs can reduce a child's feeling of helplessness. Unlike the power of adults of assertive peers, dinosaur power is under a child's thumb.

Dinosaurs appeal to a Victorian sort of "childhood wonder," emerging spontaneously in children, with little adult encouragement.

The limits of discovery

The most popular representations of dinosaurs ignore the limits imposed by paleontology.

Early discoverers of dinosaurs greatly exaggerated their size, appealing to the public's taste. Even with highly sophisticated tools, only so much information can be inferred from bones and related objects. Those who wish to reconstruct the appearance and habits of dinosaurs are using their scope for imagination.

We impose our own meanings

The reason for the popularity of dinosaurs is that their symbolism is flexible enough to accommodate a vast range of meanings.

  • Dinosaurs became extinct, and that story resonates with the apocalyptic traditions of the Zoroastrian, Judaic, Christian, and Islamic religions.
  • Their size and power suggest empires and battles of a huge scale. The view that some dinosaurs survived to become birds suggests a sort of angelic elect that will be saved.
  • Secular views have changed the meaning of dinosaurs. The apocalyptic associations could be used to express the terror of a nuclear holocaust or ecological collapse.
  • Dinosaurs have also been used to comment on human violence, innocence, wealth, failure, and many more.

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