It's June 2, and we're officially 10 days away from the release of Jurassic World in the US. The online paleontology community has long been afire with speculation, opining, ranting, and even a bit of giddy anticipation. This post is not about our respective attitudes about the film or the franchise, but about turning all of that energy around into something that can benefit our shared love of natural history. Whether we're happy with the way Jurassic World depicts its animals, tolerate it, or bemoan it, we all want the current scientific view of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to gain more traction among laypeople.
So here is an idea. It's pretty simple. I call it the Jurassic World Challenge. If you're buying a ticket for the movie, it's a fair bet that you also have that much money to give to the people who bring prehistory to life in the real world. Think of it as a matching fund, crowdsourced. See the movie, do some good. The official rules:
- Donate the equivalent of your Jurassic World ticket price to paleontological research
- Spend the equivalent of your ticket price on the wares of an independent paleoartist
Of course, you don't have to pick one or the other. Buy some art, give some money to a research effort, enjoy the movie. I also put together a graphic to help spread the word, in before and after flavors. You are free to disseminate these far and wide! Take it and post it on your blog or other social media channels.
Below, I've put together a list of research and education funding efforts in need of our help, since these tend not to get much coverage. You may have local or regional museums and other institutions that you can support - just be sure, as Andy Farke notes in the comments below, to specify that you want to donate to research. It may even be worth it to team up with a group of friends and family to pool your money together. As for artists, most readers can probably think of a dozen off the top of their heads. You may check out the huge three-part gift guide I did last year, which focused on paleoart: parts one, two, and three. Also, browse our paleoart and Mesozoic Miscellany tags to find some of the many we've shared here over the years - almost all of them have work available for purchase!
Since I first posted this, I have been in touch with Matt Lamanna, current president of the Jurassic Foundation, about how people can donate to them. The Jurassic Foundation was founded in 1998 and its sole purpose is to fund dinosaur research. This is a great beneficiary. I was surprised to hear how little they've ever even had people inquire about donations! They don't have a way to do it online, but checks made out to the Jurassic Foundation can be sent to the following address:
Matthew Lamanna (current president)
Section of Vertebrate Paleontology
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080
Research Dinosaur Tracks in Northeast BC, Canada! (As featured recently in an interview with Lisa Buckley!)
The Ice-Blue Bones of Telluride: A Discovery Story
Help MHP Paleo get a field vehicle
Mobile Fossil Teaching Sets
Support My Fossil Internship in Panama!
Looking into the Waters of the Past
Paleontology vs. The Dakar Rally 2016
Here are a couple hosted by Experiment, a science research crowdfunding platform.
Paleo-School - Students Experiencing their Childhood Dream
Using the Past to Understand Climate Change
A selection of campaigns from Donors Choose, a crowdfunding platform specifically for classrooms. These all came up by searching for "fossil", "geology", and "dinosaur."
Super Heroes Learning Through Our Senses
Help Kids Appreciate the Beauty and Wonder of Science!
Rock Cycle and Fossil Activity Kits- Middle School Geology
Class Supplies for Success
The Jurassic World Challenge is not meant to be a test, or to shame anyone who does not take part. It is not meant to indict the producers of the movie for not funding science. It's just a way to encourage people to give back to the paleontological community that makes a movie like Jurassic World possible. So, if you're moved to comment on this post, rather than argue over Jurassic World's dinosaurs, add to the list above and suggest a good museum, education project, research funding campaign, or other paleontological cause to give money to. Or, of course, your favorite artist who runs an on-line shop! Let's put our Jurassic World money to good use!