Dinosaurs…for Christmas?

 The wee ones in my family are eager to mix their latest acquisitions from Santa — the Transformers attacked by dinosaurs, or vice versa.

Imagination carries them a long way, from prehistory to the future.

It’s a world class fight, carried on under the dining room table.

As the humongous conflict went on, I took a moment to browse through some magazines I’d missed during holiday preparations.  And wonder of wonder, in the November 2010 issue of the BBC History magazine, p. 68, was the story of Richard Owen, who inveted the word DINOSAUR.

Owen (1804-92) was one of the founders and directors of London’s fantastic Natural History Museum. A paleontologist by profession, Owen and others discussed various theories of evolution, sometimes agreeing with but more often differing with Charles Darwin (1809-1882), a contemporary. The article describes Owen as “notoriously bad-tempered”.  But the fact remains, he invented the word DINOSAUR, from “Greek words meaning terrible great lizard”. 

The article says that Owen wished to disprove evolution, and replace it with his own hypotheses about change. Of course, his was only one of many voices which contested Darwin, and/or tried to explain how animal developments could be aligned with biblical accounts.

Here is the museum, on the Cromwell Road. It is a wonderful place to visit, and many credit Richard Owen, who advocated for its establishment as a separate institution from the British Museum.

Left is Sue, the dinosaur in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, one of many great museums ariound the world that owe their missions to London’s example.
Kids love Sue. And dinosaurs in general.

So thanks, Richard Owen, for your word — and for not being able to counteract Darwin and Huxley after all.  I do wonder what you would think of those transformers!

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