Many people do not appreciate the essence of paleontologists in our day-to-day lives. Today I would like to look at how their advisory work can help our society and the world on a whole. Listening to a vertebrate paleontologist, Jordan Mallon, I learned that there is a lot that they have to say, for example, what the fact is, what is accurate, and what is false. Let us delve into the advisory work of paleontologists and how it benefits us.


Correcting old ideas

Paleontologists have known, for some time now, that there were some feathered dinosaurs. However, the image of fuzzy theropods has not penetrated the common man’s mind. Jordan Mallon says that he got a chance to team up with Canada Post to design a stamp series that featured dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. He then seized the moment to include some feathered forms such as the ostrich-mimic. That helped to set the record straight.

Promote recent advances

Vertebrate paleontology is moving at an even faster rate, thanks to fossil finds and new technologies. Jordan says that it is very intriguing to discuss these recent advances with friends. However, through advisory work, he also gets a chance to take that talk over coffee to the rest of the world. He speaks of his recent work with a video game developer for Dinosaur Island. In this game, the player is supposed to maintain a ‘digital terrarium’ where a sustainable balance is looked for between resources and species to avoid an ecosystem collapse. The dinosaurs in this game are customizable to make room for new paleontology findings. For example, there is an option to allow cannibalism in Tyrannosaurus rex. Mr. Mallon says that Ezra Sidran, the game developer has strived to achieve scientific accuracy making it a pleasure to partner with him.

Share something you are passionate about

2014-07-18-Tyrannosaurus-Rex-1200x795Jordan has been on a journey of studying Canadian dinosaurs. Besides that, he was always been fascinated by literature on the adventures of early Canadian dinosaur hunters in the badlands of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Mr. Mallon works at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, and they recently had a celebration of 100 years of their fossil gallery. During this time, he was invited to help with designing several displays showcasing photos of the gallery over the years. That served as a highlight to the long association of the museum with paleontology; specifically dinosaurs. Sifting through the pile of old photos was great, and it made him appreciate the opportunity to share this rich history with the museum visitors.

Besides the advisory benefits, the contextual background that is availed by paleontology allows for the interpretation of significant living organism characteristics and the importance of biological occurrences we see today. Therefore, these contextual benefits are not limited to:

  • Determining how things change under the x,y and z conditions; the cause-and-effect relationships

  • Understanding the relative intensity of changes occurring in our world today

  • Determining the evolutionary identity of past and living organisms

  • Gaining the power to predict rare events that occurred in the past, and could be experienced in the future