The public perception of palaeontology in Scotland: "archaeologists dig dinosaurs"

Clark, N.D.L. (2008) The public perception of palaeontology in Scotland: "archaeologists dig dinosaurs". In: Trythall, J. (ed.) Sea to Sand: Proceedings of the 2007 Moray Society Conference. Moray Society, Elgin Museum: Moray, UK, pp. 38-48.

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There is very little written about how palaeontology is perceived by the public. Perhaps the reason is that very few professional palaeontologists have concerned themselves with public opinion, so engrossed they are with their own speciality and not realising that someone else out there may be interested in their findings. Dinosaur palaeontologists are, perhaps, the exception due to the public popularity of these great beasts. Dinosaurs have captured the public's imagination since they were first discovered in the 1800s. They have been the subject of numerous films and documentaries but have often erroneously been linked with archaeology. It is not something that palaeontologists worry about too much beyond the amusement of having a member of the public attempt to discuss the Roman fort, or Celtic cross in the vicinity, whilst the palaeontologist looks for fossils hundreds of millions of years old. It may be of more annoyance to archaeologists when they are asked if they have unearthed any dinosaurs lately. Certainly, that seems to be the case as there have been several articles published on the public perception of archaeology, and they all seem to be upset at the number of times they are asked about dinosaurs. I think that the confusion may arise from the fact that archaeologists often dig things up and that palaeontologists do pretty much the same thing. The difference is that archaeologists ignore the fossils, and palaeontologists ignore the artefacts. Well, not quite - archaeologists will inform palaeontologists of any fossils found during an excavation and similarly, palaeontologists will inform archaeologists of any artefacts they find during an excavation.

Item Type:Book Sections
Additional Information:"Sea to Sand: Proceedings of the 2007 Moray Society Conference" are available from Elgin Museum, 1 High Street, Elgin, IV30 1EQ.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clark, Dr Neil
Authors: Clark, N.D.L.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
College/School:University Services > Library and Collection Services > Museum and Art Gallery
Journal Name:Sea to Sand: Proceedings of the 2007 Moray Society Conference. Held on 22nd and 23rd September at Elgin Town Hall and Elgin Museum and Environs. 2008. the Moray Society, Elgin Museum
Publisher:Moray Society, Elgin Museum
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2008 Moray Society (Elgin Museum)
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher.

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