Cafe Scientifique: Discovering Dinos

To celebrate June 2015 as Dinosaur Month in the Museum, Dustin Growick, also known as the Dinosaur Whisperer and host of Youtube's The Dinosaur Show, gave an informal talk on dinosaurs to our Saturday morning guests.

Wearing a Jurassic Park shirt, Dustin's enthusiasm was clearly visible as he shared what a dinosaur was, and how to know a dinosaur when you see it.

Dinosaurs were first characterized as "terrifying lizards", but we now know that they come in all shapes and sizes, with modern forms existing today as birds.

Dinosaurs' legs are found directly underneath their bodies as opposed to jutting out from their sides, and the orientation of their vertebrae with regard to their skulls is different from other reptiles. In fact, many reptiles that were contemporaries of the dinosaurs do often get mistaken for them. One example is Dimetrodon; with its legs splayed out at its sides like a crocodilian, Dimetrodon does not fit the criteria for a "true dinosaur".

These traits helped to contribute to the dinosaurs' success, by making it easy for them to run and move much faster.

Dustin was also asked whether there were dinosaurs in the Philippines. He says that while there may not have been any discovered so far, the country is definitely populated by many birds or modern dinosaurs.

According to geologist Marietta de Leon, paleontologists from University of the Philippines' National Institute of Geological Sciences were able to discover the remains of the ancient elephant Stegodon sp. in Antipolo in 1987. However, scientists believe that there were no Mesozoic dinosaurs in the archipelago simply because there was no Philippines yet at the time, having only formed a few million years after many of them had become extinct.

Dr. de Leon also adds that if we were to dig up dinosaur bones in our country, Palawan and Mindoro would be the most likely places to find them, having originated from much older continental rocks.

After the talk, an open forum was held with the guests, who asked such questions as:

1. What is the biggest dinosaur?
2. What is your favorite dinosaur?
3. If the dinosaurs never died out, how would they have evolved?
4. If we could "recreate" dinosaurs, what would it be like to coexist with them?

The guests also asked whether the dinosaurs in Jurassic World were portrayed accurately, such as Gallimimus and its birdlike gait.

Today's Cafe Scientifique was not only an opportunity for Dustin to share his passion for dinosaurs with guests of the museum, but also a chance for the dinosaur geeks in the audience to share their own fascination for the topic. Perhaps the best example was one of the guests who showed Dustin his impressively realistic dinosaur drawings.

Continuing with the dinosaur theme tomorrow is a MakerSpace Pilipinas session, where the guests who sign up for the program will learn how to make dinosaur pop-up greeting cards and notebooks.


De Leon, M. (2008). "Dinosaurs - And Why We Didn't Have Them in the Philippines." Selected essays on science and technology for securing a better Philippines. The University of the Philippines Press. 

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