How does a paleontologist benefit children

Overtebrate dinosaurs - "Some dinosaurs were bigger than a Boeing 737"

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They can't be killed: we are still fascinated by dinosaurs to this day. US paleontologist Steve Brusatte on the long-running dinosaur, Spielberg's “Jurassic Park” and a chicken that could soon become a dinosaur.

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Steve Brusatte, born 1984, is an American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist. He specializes in the anatomy and evolution of dinosaurs and himself discovered and named ten species.

SRF: Why are we so fascinated by dinosaurs?

Steve Brusatte: Dinosaurs are fascinating because they look like dragons or monsters. But they are much more interesting than all the characters from our myths or legends because they were real.

In addition, they are the largest animals that have ever lived on land in the history of the earth. Some of them were bigger than a Boeing 737.

Some dinosaurs apparently had feathers or even wings.

At the same time, however, we also have many false images of dinosaurs in our heads.

Correct. Thanks to the findings of recent years, we now know, for example, that dinosaurs were much more like birds than reptiles. Some dinosaurs apparently had feathers or even wings.

So Steven Spielberg lied to us in Jurassic Park?

I have to say that I am a huge fan of this film. It's one of the best things that has ever happened to paleontology because it inspired so many children and adolescents to love dinosaurs.

But that doesn't mean that the dinosaurs in the movie are perfect. True, at least in the first few films they actually don't have any feathers. But Steven Spielberg has to be blamed for not knowing that in 1993, when the first film was made.

Almost like in “Jurassic Park”, the well-known paleontologist Jack Horner is currently trying to turn a chicken into a dinosaur again - a “Huhnosaurus”. Is this a good idea?

I don't see that as negative or positive. Our entire agriculture, all domestic animals, even the chickens themselves are not natural. That would just be another variety. But chickens are already dinosaurs because they have the genes of their dinosaur ancestors. So we don't need to do that.

At the same time, as a paleontologist and enthusiastic dinosaur fan, I understand why you want to do something like this. I therefore venture to predict that in the next 10 to 15 years we will be surprised by a press conference at which a scientist leads in a velociraptor on a leash that was created from a chicken.

So the dinosaurs stay up to date. Do people also have the potential to become such a long-runner?

Like the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic, we are now at the top of the food chain as rulers of the world. But in view of the rapid changes in our world, I doubt that we will come anywhere near the reign of the dinosaurs if we do not change our behavior towards the environment.

The dinosaurs ruled the world for over 150 million years - more than 500 times as long as we have existed. So we still have a long way to go.

The interview was conducted by Gina Messerli.

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