Why the success of 'Jurassic World' matters to science
Most people think of "Jurassic World" as an action-packed Blockbuster hit that depicts the relationship between dinosaurs and humans in an inaccurate yet entertaining light. Few would guess that the film's success could actually benefit science.
That's where Kr. Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University comes in. According to Lacovara, the "Jurassic Park" films inspired a generation of paleontologists. He said:
"There's a whole generation that has many members who are paleontologists because of the Jurassic Park movies."
Why does the rise of paleontologists matter? According to Lacovara, "paleontology does a lot for humanity." The science addresses current global issues through its investigative techniques.
One global issue Lacovara addresses is climate change. In order to discover how the earth responds to climate change, scientists must track its history by observing the past. The further we want to explore future climate changes, the further back we must investigate.
Paleontology also answers many questions about our planet's use of energy. Paleontologists can find the energy we need to drive our planet by investigating dinosaur fossils. Answering questions of the past makes us well-equipped to make predictions for the future.
Furthermore, the study of paleontology provides us with more information about basic physics. We can compare a 65-ton dinosaur to a 5-ton elephant to understand just how large these animals were. That's scary large. They must have dealt with tremendous physiological challenges such as sending signals from their muscles to their brains in a timely manner and kneeling in order to safely lay eggs. Exploring these questions brings up questions about our own physiological strengths and weaknesses.
It's also fascinating to think about evolution since the age of dinosaurs. Certain mammals that survived extinction may have evolved into great apes which then evolved into our own human species. The human species went on to invent art and science, and some went on to become paleontologists.
As a fairly young science (about 200 years old), paleontology is just beginning to answer crucial questions for better understanding our own species and the world around us.
If "Jurassic World" has the same effect "Jurassic Park" had on today's younger generations, the movie's fans may grow up to study paleontology and lend a hand in these important investigations. It seems that the film has already inspired some.
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