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Dinosaur Artists: Exhibiting a New Science?

DINOSAURS, MAMMOTHS AND CAVEMEN The Art of Charles R. Knight. Sylvia Czerkas, curator. Exhibit at Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, June-August 1987. DINOSAURS, PAST AND PRESENT Sylvia Czerkas, curator. Exhibit at Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, June-August 1987. What impact has dinosaur art had on the public’s understanding of dinosaurs? Scientists have been aware of remains of gi

Joel K. Hammond

DINOSAURS, MAMMOTHS AND CAVEMEN

The Art of Charles R. Knight. Sylvia
Czerkas, curator. Exhibit at
Smithsonian Institution’s National
Museum of Natural History,
Washington, DC, June-August 1987.

DINOSAURS, PAST AND PRESENT

Sylvia Czerkas, curator. Exhibit at
Smithsonian Institution’s National
Museum of Natural History,
Washington, DC, June-August 1987.

What impact has dinosaur art had on the public’s understanding of dinosaurs? Scientists have been aware of remains of gigantic reptiles since the 1820s. By 1841, the British scientist Sir Richard Owen had coined his seminal term “Dinosauria” (meaning “terrible lizard”) to characterize these intriguing fossil bones. Owen’s science was masterful; nonetheless, the concept of dinosaur gained immediate attention only within the narrow focus of the paleontological community. It was not until 1854 that the public’s interest in dinosaurs ignited. This was achieved through the partnership of Owen and artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. Their creative collaboration preduced the first life-size dinosaur sculptures and, in...

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