The Invention of Dinosaurs

Illustration by author. Depiction of a modern day dinosaur.

Illustration by author. Depiction of a modern day dinosaur.

Every time I read articles on dinosaurs I always murmur comments like, “that’s convenient,” or, “oh, another dinosaur was discovered.” At this point I don’t know if I say them sarcastically or genuinely.

Growing up I was the child that loved dinosaurs. Forever, since my childhood, I’ve been fascinated by these strange, mythical creatures that were once real. They were enormous and tiny, dangerous and cute, had beaks or a mouth full of teeth…nothing in this world can be as amazing as dinosaurs.

A couple years ago, in a casual conversation at work, a coworker told me something that shook me to my core. “Dinosaurs were invented to make money.” The audacity. The blasphemy! How could someone utter a sentence so evil and the heavens not strike her with a bolt of lightning?

However, I’ll admit that ever since that day I’ve never fully enjoyed dinosaurs the same way. It’s left me wondering and toying with the possibility that dinosaurs never actually existed. Could it be possible that dinosaurs were invented for profitable reasons only?

[1] According to Scholastic.com, the first fossil record was from 1676 from museum curator Robert Plot. He believed it was a thigh bone from a giant man. “…the surviving illustration suggests that it may well have been part of a ‘Megalosaurus.’” Since then dinosaurs have excited the masses and have entered just about every industry possible at a very competitive price.

[2] CollegeTuitionCompare.com says undergrad tuition fees average to $14,000 in-state and $49,000 out-of-state for paleontology degrees. [3] The average tuition fee is $9,000 for in-state and $25,000 for out of state. [4] Paleontologists earn an average annual salary of $106,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So clearly the paleontology courses are making colleges money and have a pretty big pay out in the career field.

Is it such a far-fetched idea that some people would pay a lot of money to live a life of hoaxes and deceit just to get the big bucks? I think through human history we’ve seen far more absurd things happen.

In the entertainment industry, dinosaurs have also made an impact by being the plot of some of the greatest and most iconic movies of all time. Below is a tiny list of dinosaur movies, their estimated budget and how much they’ve made in the US.

  • The Land Before Time (1988) $12,500,000 :: $48,000,000

  • Jurassic Park (1993) $63,000,000 :: $402,000,000

  • Dinosaur (2000) $127,500,000 :: $137,700,000

  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) $170,000,000 :: $416,000,000

And as for Fallen Kingdom, Chris Pratt got paid $10,000,000 for playing a sort of paleontologist — so technically, dinosaurs got him money.

[5] In 2015,  Fortune.com declared the biggest trend at the New York City Toy Fair that year would be dinosaurs in anticipation of the release of Jurassic World. In their article they said it’s easier to make dinosaur toys because no one owns dinosaurs.

“Dinosaurs, unlike superhero characters from franchises such as ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Spider-Man,’ are free public domain and thus a license agreement isn’t needed to make the toys.”

Therefore, dinosaur-themed anything — trading cards, posters, stickers, notebooks, backpacks, shoes, apparel, blankets, literally etcetera!! — could be made by anyone and profited by anyone. Any industry could tap into the dinosaur trend for profit.

And what’s more interesting is how new species of dinosaurs, through fossils and technological advancements, allegedly, are being discovered frequently. Or scientists are learning something new about dinosaurs we’ve already known. Could they be releasing phony discoveries just to stay relevant and funded? I mean I’m sure the only people that could prove dinosaur scientists are being phony would be other scientists. But what if the entire scientific community is in on it?

Having written this and done some research, I think this is one of those things where bliss is happiness. Like I said, I love dinosaurs — they’re truly fascinating. I’ll stick with my 98% belief that dinosaurs existed, although it’s arguable they still exist today through pop culture and science, and my 2% feeling of doubt will serve as room for my imagination to run wild.

It seems like dinosaurs aren’t going extinct any time soon.

[1] https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/when-was-first-dinosaur-discovered/

[2] https://www.collegetuitioncompare.com/best-schools/paleontology

[3] https://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064

[4] https://work.chron.com/salary-palaeontologist-7268.html

[5] http://fortune.com/2015/02/17/toy-fair-dinosaurs/