Palaeontology: Picture of a prehistoric dinosaur becomes a meme - Triops Galaxy

Palaeontology: Picture of a prehistoric dinosaur becomes a meme

Small legs, a stocky build and a large mouth that almost seems to be smiling: the depiction of a prehistoric dinosaur discovered in Rhineland-Palatinate is causing a stir on social media. Rarely do scientific illustrations go viral, but in the case of the Rhineland-Palatinate prehistoric dinosaur, things are different. Here is what the artist and a researcher involved have to say about it.

Stenokranio boldi, Picture: Dr. Frederik Spindler/Museum of Natural History Berlin

“Jurassic Park on Heligoland”

Over the last few days, a number of users have created memes with pictures of the primordial dinosaur. Among them is comedian Sebastian Hotz (“El Hotzo”), who is followed by 1.4 million people on Instagram. He wrote: “Mr Lindner, get 100 billion in special funds, we need to build a Jurassic Park on Heligoland and clone 100 of these rascals.”

The depiction of the animal, which lived around 300 million years ago, was published by the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin in a study last week, which was reported on by several media outlets. The museum commented on the many posts on Instagram: “Perhaps the oldest meme in the world!” Based on discoveries in Rhineland-Palatinate, the prehistoric dinosaur with the technical name Stenokranio boldi was one of the largest predators of its time in the region, according to the museum. According to the museum, the name means something like: Narrow skinner.

According to the artist, a more serious facial expression was not possible

The scientist and palaeo-artist Frederik Spindler, who created the illustration, was very pleased with the response when asked on Tuesday. “I think it’s great that the palaeo-world and the internet world are intertwined,” said the 40-year-old. The 3D reconstruction was about showing the essential features. He was unable to change the facial expression: “I can’t make the animal look more serious. It’s a bit like dolphins, they can’t look serious.”

Spindler said that he himself was researching similar animals. However, he is actually less familiar with amphibians and was approached by the scientists as an artist. Although comments are already asking for Stenocranio fan articles, Spindler is not thinking that far ahead just yet. “A little internet hype … should not be exploited.”

He is pleased that the term primeval dinosaur has become better known. He is also pleased that it now has a face, said Spindler. However, as the Berlin museum explained last week, there is no connection with dinosaurs. Stenokranio boldi is also not a reptile, as is often wrongly assumed.

Sladjan Lazic

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