Dinosaurs Ever Evolving

The Changing Face of Prehistoric Animals in Popular Culture


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About the Book

From their discovery in the 19th century to the dawn of the Nuclear Age, dinosaurs were seen in popular culture as ambassadors of the geological past and as icons of the “life through time” narrative of evolution. They took on a more foreboding character during the Cold War, serving as a warning to mankind with the advent of the hydrogen bomb. As fears of human extinction escalated during the ecological movement of the 1970s, dinosaurs communicated their metaphorical message of extinction, urging us from our destructive path. Using an eclectic variety of examples, this book outlines the three-fold “evolution” of dinosaurs and other prehistoric monsters in pop culture, from their poorly understood beginnings to the 21st century.

About the Author(s)

Allen A. Debus, a retired environmental chemist, has long been infatuated with dinosaurs, paleontology, science fiction, Godzilla and King Kong. He has written several books addressing prehistoric creatures—both real and fictional—in popular culture, and attends Chicagoland’s Wizard World and G-Fest. He is a member of the G-Fan Hall of Fame and lives in Hanover Park, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Allen A. Debus

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 320
Bibliographic Info: 43 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9951-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2432-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by J.D. Lees 1
Introduction: ­Pop-Cultural Evolution of the Prehistoric ­Dino-Monster:
Meaning and Metaphor 3

Part I. Perpetuating the Life Through Geological Time Paradigm 11
One. Sir Humphry Davy’s Volcanic Considerations of Life Through Geological Time 13
Two. Popularizing the ­Life-Through-Time “Paleo-Novel” 25
Three. Henry Robert Knipe: A Forgotten ­Paleo-Popularizer 37
Four. Dinosaur Extinctions I: When a “dinosaur book” Isn’t: Henry Fairfield Osborn’s Origin and Evolution of Life (1917) 46
Five. Filmic Illustrations of Life Through Geological Time 64
Six. Lovecraft’s Paleontological Time Travels 73

Part II. Doomsday Dinosaurs 85
Seven. Dinosaur Extinctions II: Volcanoes Presage Environmental Apocalypse 88
Eight. Sizing up Radiation’s Unnatural Cold War Dangers 99
Nine. Nuclear Dragon: Godzilla and the Cold War—1954 114
Ten. Godzilla’s Dinosaurian Origins 127
Eleven. Oxygen Destroyers: When Oceans Die 141
Twelve. “After and Before”: Gorgo’s Alternate Adventures 148
Thirteen. Prehistoric Life Spawns an Environmental Movement 172
Fourteen. Beyond the Smog Monster: Godzilla in the Anthropocene 187

Part III. Man and Dinosaur as One 199
Fifteen. Decade of the Dinosaur 201
Sixteen. Dinosaur Extinctions III: Warning from Space! Science Fiction Becomes Scientific 213
Seventeen. Shadow of Our Past: Evolution of the Beast 229
Eighteen. That First Intelligence 244
Nineteen. When Dinosauroids Speak! 255

Epilogue 265
Chapter Notes 277
Bibliography 311
Index 313

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title
  • “Highly readable prose…. Debus is a master at bringing together both the scientific and cultural aspects of dinosaurs, and this book will be warmly received by anyone with an enduring fascination with the prehistoric ‘terrible lizards.’ Highly recommended”—Choice
  • “[Debus’] prose exhibits welcome wit and an abiding fondness for all representations of dinosaurs in literature and films, past and present”—Scary Monsters Magazine
  • “Debus has built a reputation as a superbly informed critical thinker, and this new book showcases his abilities admirably”—G-Fan
  • “A lot to read and enjoy”—Prehistoric Times
  • “A lot of detail and information… Not only will you come away with insight into dinosaurs in pop culture, but also a bit of world history as well”—Mad Scientist
  • “If you are interested in the history of dinosaurs in popular culture, Debus is an author you simply cannot ignore…Debus does a huge service to those who work in the history of science”—H-Net Reviews.