This is one of the most central projects in this series. I collected 5 pictures of each of several dinosaurs, each of these images is from popular culture, usually children’s books. I showed the participants each set of 5 images, then asked, which of these images is the closest to your own mental image of that dinosaur species?
For instance, which of the 5 pictures of the Ankylosaurus is the closest to your mental image of what an Ankylosaurus looks like?
I collated the results to find out which pictures were the most popular for each species, then analyzed them for their physical characteristics as well as their place in culture.
This project helps us understand what makes a particular way of representing a dinosaur more or less popular, and thus effective, than its peers. For instance, would you guess that scientific accuracy, pop cultural inertia, or the degree of illustrative photorealism would have the most effect?
The answers, as always, are in the book.
You can download the images and the participants’ answer sheet 1000 words form–print it out and play it at home!
The now-outdated, but still-interesting 2009 poster of the project is available here.