Even before linkurl:__Jurassic Park__;http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107290/ brought dinosaurs to cinematic life, the ancient reptiles were fascinating to most people, especially kids. These days, mountains of books, toys and other paraphernalia are marketed to kids between ages 2 and 10. Most youngsters know __Tyrannosaurus rex__ and __Triceratops__ by sight, and many have mastered hundreds of arcane paleontological names as well. People assume that with all this dinophilia, and with all the money spent on dinosaur paraphernalia, paleontology must be rolling in dough. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, paleontology in the US and in most of Europe is starved for funds and jobs, and in many places paleontology is on its way to extinction.
The best argument I've heard that explains the near unanimous childhood fascination with dinosaurs can be put in three words: "big," "real," and "extinct." Dinosaurs are like the dragons and monsters of childhood imagination. They were...

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