Children Know their Dinosaurs – Manufacturers Beware!
One of the most frustrating aspects of our jobs is when we come across an item that contains grossly inaccurate or misleading information about prehistoric animals on a product designed for young children. As we can all attest to, young dinosaur fans really know their stuff and to find on sale a dinosaur themed toy that misinforms is extremely disappointing especially when we spend a considerable proportion of our time offering advice (usually free) to help correct some of the more obvious mistakes. When we visit schools to teach about dinosaurs we are amazed at the children’s prior knowledge.
One of the viral phenomena doing the rounds on Youtube and other social network platforms is this short video of a young girl called Stella, pointing out the inaccuracies on a horned dinosaur described on the product packaging as a Triceratops.
Stella – The Dinosaur Expert
Video Credit: Sarah Hatton – Artist
It saddens us when we come across instances such as this, young Stella knows her horned dinosaurs and in this short video she points out the dinosaur image on the front of the box does not represent a Triceratops. She suggests that the picture is more representative of another horned dinosaur, one that is only distantly related to Triceratops, a dinosaur known as Styracosaurus.
As a company made up of teachers and prehistoric animal enthusiasts we marvel at how much knowledge some children acquire when it comes to these extinct creatures. They seem to be able to absorb information like a sponge absorbs water and we are often corrected when we are working in a school or at a museum if we are seen to get something slightly wrong. Only yesterday, I was discussing the Jurassic Stegosaur Tuojiangosaurus (T. multispinus) with the mother of a five year old who had insisted on a model of this dinosaur and had refused a Kentrosaurus replica, because in his words “he knew the difference“.
Good luck to him we say. A fascination for dinosaurs can open up a whole world of learning for young children. We have observed reception aged students reluctant to read any other material but absolutely enthralled with a reference book on dinosaurs, happy to point out to us, which dinosaurs were meat-eaters and where they lived. It is astonishing how many facts and snippets of dinosaur information they can pick up and woe betide us if we should venture to say something that does not entirely agree with an aspect of the Dinosauria that they may have read about in one of their many dinosaur books.
One of the worst cases we have come across, was discovered whilst visiting a trade show a couple of years ago. On a colourful exhibitors stand, there was a range of melamine plates, bowls and cups all with a dinosaur theme. There were pictures of prehistoric animals, plus some brief information, one or two “facts” as it were. The designers had obviously taken care over their bright and attractive children’s dinner service, I am sure many parents of young dinosaur fans would have been keen to purchase these items for their young, budding palaeontologists. However, a cursory examination of the “factual” information revealed some distressing oversights. For example, the word “Corythosaurus” (a well-known Hadrosaur and a dinosaur that is featured in many children’s books and games), was not spelled correctly. In addition, printed around one of the pieces in the set ( we can’t remember whether it was the bowl or the plate), was a statement that “Brachiosaurus was the biggest dinosaur of all time”. These inaccuracies distress us. We did have a quiet word with the sales representative on the trade stand, pointing out these errors, we even offered to help fix the problems, but this was all to no avail.
Children deserve better than this. A love of dinosaurs from an early age can help young children to develop the habit of life-long learning, it is such a shame that a growing number of manufacturers wish to exploit a child’s fascination with all things prehistoric by producing goods that carry misleading images, spelling mistakes and other dinosaur inaccuracies.
We at Everything Dinosaur will continue our efforts and to try to help where we can. We take care when delivering a dinosaur workshop in school to get our facts straight. If we don’t then some budding young palaeontologist is bound to point out our error.
To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur themed workshops: Dinosaur Workshops in School