Saturday, January 25, 2014

Colouration of Mesozoic Marine Reptiles and the Media

Okay, I am currently very busy, and so I will not be able to post any more reviews of Grimm for a while. It's time I get back to dinosaurs.

So, while I am late for this, the post will cover how the media can turn a cool discovery into a mess.

So, earlier this month, the news that scientists found out the colour of extinct marine reptiles broke, and I was immediately excited at that finding. While I may be over exaggerating, it may be possible to find out the colour of most dinosaurs, not just feathered ones, but I don't have a degree so it's just wishful thinking on my part.

A cool discovery, but there has been one little thing that nagged me all this time. A line I noticed from many press releases, including one by live science. It basically says "ancient marine reptiles where ALL black." ALL. Really? As far as I know, the scientists studied an ichthyosaur, some mosasaurs, and an extinct leatherback turtle. So, based off of these three data sets, all Mesozoic marine reptiles where black. Who's fault is it? It is the scientists? Or the media?
My finger is firmly pointed at the media. I've never been a big fan of media reporting in general, but I particularly dislike their science reporting. Before I bash, I do know there are some good science reporters who do an excellent job at reporting. But many news sources have unfortunately fired their science reporters and instead have Bob who does the gardening section to cover the Higs-Boson.
I's just the way that media works now, wether you like it or not. It's no longer about reporting information, it's about making press releases.

It isn't just press releases on this story that made me angry. What made me real angry was some of the reporting that "Most dinosaurs weren't feathered", which I still am skeptical of.
One of the headlines was "Feathered dinosaurs? For your dreams only." That made me both interested and greatly frustrated. Now from the headline, by the Free Press Journal, it seems like that feathered dinosaurs never existed. What the hell are they talking about?! It's only when you read it that you actually understand what they are talking about.

On a quick side note, I will say that the feathered dinosaur press releases said that Triceratops was scaly, when in fact, an as of yet undescribed Triceratops was found with skin impressions, and clear impressions of quill like structures on them. That is just my pedantic aside.

In the end, I wish that we couldn't have such sensationalistic headlines like "OMFG, WE WHERE WRONG ABOUT FEATHERED DINOSAURS!" But in the end, that's just my pedantic nature.

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