The Paleontology of Chris Wildrick Is Overrated: Dinosaur High School, performed at Process, Performance & Projection III, Carbondale, IL, SIUC Faculty Exhibition, Paducah, KY, both 2005; original data analysis 2005; several other performances in Ithaca and Syracuse, NY in 2008-present; updated analyses 2009 and again in 2010. Displayed at Unit B, San Antonio, TX; Redhouse, Syracuse, NY; and Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY.

As with the other projects in this series, this is a participatory project. Chris asked people a simple question: : If Dinosaurs were in High School, who would they be? What High School social group would each species belong to? Would a Duckbill be a Jock, a Geek, or a Goth? How about a Tyrannosaurus rex, or a Triceratops?

The answers were logged into a chart and analyzed statistically and for their implications.

This project focuses on our perception of dinosaurs' relative social status and identities. By asking participants which High School Social Category is most analogous to which Dinosaur Species, and why, we can understand more about the way we project personas onto certain dinosaurs, which in turn can tell us just as much about ourselves as it does about dinosaurs.

While Chris expected there to be a reasonably strong association between certain dinosaurs and social categories (Tyrannosaurus and Jock, for instance), the results turned out to create a surprisingly extensive web of associations between dinosaurs and social categories. It seems that people really do see many dinosaurs as having specific personalities that correspond with human personalities. The origin of these putative personalities probably derives from many sources, including pop culture, the posture and body types of the dinosaurs, and the basic human inclination to project ourselves onto everything else in the universe--to see everything in our terms.

The book (see below) contains the most extensive summary of the results and findings.


The PDF of the book provides the most complete rundown on the project. The original physical book featured a large fold-out poster, which can also be found at its full size in the PDF:

See this page, which collects all the paleontology books, for more photographs of the book.

(Chris recommends that you view the book PDFs on Acrobat, and that under View > Page Display, you select "Two-Up Continuous" and "Show Cover Page During Two-Up" for the full book experience. "Two-Up Continuous" shows the both the left- and right-hand pages in a spread together on your screen. "Show Cover Page During Two-Up" makes the first page of the book show as a single page on the right-hand side, thus making sure that all the following pages are shown in their correct pairings, like pages 2 and 3, pages 4 and 5, etc. Doing this will ensure that you see the book the way Chris designed it, with various visual and informational relationships existing between the left- and right-hand pages.)


The data from this survey has been extensively analyzed. Most of the following charts were included of the book in somewhat edited forms, but can also be downloaded individually here in their native states as large-format posters:

Quantitative Data Part 1: Distribution of Votes for Species' Social Categories:

Quantitative Data Part 2A: Distribution of Votes for Attributes by Species and Social Category (This was Chris' first really huge poster--you've gotta love a 3x6' poster that consists of almost nothing but 10-point type!):

Quantitative Data Part 2B: Summary of Distribution of Votes for Attributes by Social Category:

Qualitative Data: Participants' Extended Descriptions of Selected Attributes (the latest version of this file is from 2009 and does not include the last round of data):



You can also download this now-outdated, but still-interesting poster, which summarized the project as it stood in 2009:


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