Workshop 4: debates & Issues

king's college London , December 2018


This workshop will examine how the public discussion of palaeontological ideas has connected with wider debates and concerns on scientific, social and cultural issues, ranging from evolution, ‘progress,’ nature, biodiversity, and spectacle.  It will interrogate the wider ideological and cultural traditions around the public discussion of palaeontological research, and how old stereotypes and new narratives have developed.

Particularly important questions will be:

  • Which cultural and ideological positions have historically used palaeontological research and narratives? How has this changed and shifted over time?

  • How long-standing have particular cultural stereotypes been in the presentation of life’s history, particularly those based on ‘progress’ and ‘improvement’? Why have these been so difficult to overcome?

  • How can palaeontology interact with current issues and concerns over conservation, biodiversity, and environmental change? How effective can this be? Is this even desirable?


Introduction: Research & Methods

Chris Manias

Introduction: Debates & Issues

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Paul Brinkman

Making Research from Rubbish

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Hannah O’Regan

Large carnivore (sub)fossils and conservation: lions, tigers and bears, oh my…

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Matt Stanfield

Making Memories: Personal & Public Paleoart

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Narratives & Progress

Elsa Panciroli

Mammals just keep getting better: how we cling to tales of progress in mammal evolution

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Plants & Hominins

Susannah Lydon

Plant Blindness and the Fossil Record

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Becky Wragg-Sykes

Flint-erestingly Mousterious: why we’re still obsessed with Neanderthals

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Dinosaurs and their Uses

Shana van Hauwermeiren

The Iguanodons of Bernissart: cultural moderators for popularising paleontology in late 19th- and early 20th-century Belgium

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Will Tattersdill

Beyond Brontosaurus: Literature, Science, and the Second Extinction of the Dinosaurs

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Ilja Nieuwland

Constructing Otto’s hedgehog - the enduring lives of a paleontological chimaera

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Mark Witton

Mark Witton, ‘Monsterising Prehistory! The "How," "Why" and "So What" of Monstrous Palaeoart!’

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