Palaeontology in Public

Popular science, lost creatures and deep time

Edited by Chris Manias


ISBN: 9781800085831

Publication: January 06, 2025

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Since the establishment of concepts of deep time in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, palaeontology has been one of the most high-profile sciences. Dinosaurs, mammoths, human ancestors and other lost creatures from Earth’s history are some of the most prominent icons of science, and are essential for our understanding of nature and time. Palaeontology and its practitioners have had a huge impact on public understandings of science, despite their often precarious and unsteady position within scientific institutions and networks.

Palaeontology in Public considers the connections between palaeontology and public culture across the past two centuries. In so doing, it explores how these public dimensions have been crucial to the development of palaeontology, and indeed how they conditioned wider views of science, nature, the environment, time and the world. The book provides a history of vertebrate palaeontology through a series of compelling case studies. Dinosaurs feature, of course, including Spinosaurus, Winsor McCay’s ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ and the creatures of Jurassic Park and The Lost World. But there are also the small mammals of the Mesozoic, South American Glyptodons, and human ancestors like Neanderthals and Australopithecines. This book shows how palaeontology is defined by its relationship with public audiences and how this connection is central to our vision of the past and future of the Earth and its inhabitants.

Chris Manias is Senior Lecturer in the History of Science & Technology at King’s College London.

List of Figures
List of Contributors

1 Introduction
Chris Manias

Part I: Extinct Reptiles

2 Arthur Conan Doyle, Michael Crichton, and the case of palaeontological fiction
Richard Fallon and David Hone

3 Winsor McCay’s Gertie: the first living dinosaur
Victoria Coules

4 The ‘Spin’ in Spinosaurus: inventing a modern dinosaur superstar Will Tattersdill and Mark P. Witton

5 A good officer: the long and remarkable career of the Chimaeral Naosaurus
Ilja Nieuwland

6 From ‘Long’ to ‘Feng:’ the marvellous new era of feathered dinosaur discoveries in China
Zichuan Qin and Lukas Rieppel

Part II: Mammals & Hominins

7 Mammals, the measure of success? The legacy of ‘progress’ in natural sciences
Elsa Panciroli and Chris Manias

8 Literary beasts: fossil mammals, bone seekers and palaeontology in twentieth-century Argentina; or, an illusory future. A fossil history of Argentine culture
Irina Podgorny

9 When fieldwork goes wrong, go public: George Gaylord Simpson and Anne Roe in Venezuela, 1938-1939
Joe Cain

10 Shadows in the mirror: a discussion on understandings of neanderthals and australopithecines
Chris Manias, Rebecca Wragg Sykes and Lydia Pyne

11 Palaeoanthropology and the mass media: an entangled history Oliver Hochadel

12 Pageants of life: conclusion and epilogue
Chris Manias


Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

356 Pages

colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2025

ISBN: 9781800085831

Publication: January 06, 2025

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