As a researcher, you dream of widespread popular knowledge of your discoveries. Imagine if children the world over played with toys based on your work. But how would you feel if those toys were incredibly wrong?

If you’re Paul Olsen of Columbia University, you find the humor in it, as in the video below where he critiques a variety of cheap and inaccurate dino toys.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


7 Thoughts on "The Sad State of Toy Dinosaurs"

Well, we’re playing with dinosaurs, which is a good thing, as noted by the professor. But it sounds as if toy dinosaurs were made according to spec (as well as we know spec), then they would be cooler than the ones with made-up details. I mean, adding feathers and killing toes and all the other accurate things. Wouldn’t we want to play with that? Sure, we would!

I love this video, but I don’t think truth necessarily will lead to more fun. This is in part about our fantasy lives. All those kids who enjoy action figures of the Hulk know that the Hulk is pure fiction. Why would an accurately drawn dinosaur trump the Hulk? Let’s now get too scientific about fantasy, toys, and children.

Also, Joe, in my vast experience of one very serious dinosaur dude, it’s exactly the science that’s so compelling! The fantasy part is every possible time-travel device that could transport you for field work.

It’s so rare that I have in-house counsel to help me appreciate an SK post. But I am reliably informed that any self-respecting junior paleontologist waits for new releases from Schleich, which are vastly superior to the (term edited) specimens evaluated by Dr. Olsen. I believe we may have inspired a follow-up video on just this subject…

As the sister of a girl who LOVED dinosaurs I played endless hours of screeching, munching, pouncing dino-topia and believe me, accuracy mattered. She could point out every little thing. So, did the inaccuracies inspire her to study more about the subject and have an overall positive impact, or do the falsehoods embed themselves as truth in our subconscious to be revealed as a dumb answer at a cocktail party when we are 35?

The former. Fantasy feeds the brain. And if you had to say something stupid at a cocktail party, wouldn’t you rather it be about dinosaurs?

So, toy dinosaurs are inaccurate. Shall we discuss the anatomical misconceptions of the Barbie doll?

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