Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Jurassic World Challenge

[Edited 6:41pm EST 6/2/15 for clarity and to incorporate some feedback; 12:27pm EST 6/6/15 to include links to our paleoart gift guide; 2:40pm EST 6/15 to add information about the Jurassic Foundation.]

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!

Jurassic Foundation

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

From Indiegogo:

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

From GoFundMe:

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!

Rocks Rock!

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!


  1. Great idea! To this list, I might also add something like "Donate to the research fund at the natural history museum nearest you." [it probably helps to be specific like that - general donations can get shunted any number of ways that may or may not reflect your intentions]

    1. Good call, I'll add that in when I'm on my computer.

  2. We here at MHP Paleo are always looking for more funding to get our high school students out into the field.
    I for one will definitely be taking this challenge!

  3. Don't forget that many of our favorite paleoartists are often hurting for cash!

    John Conway

    Mark Witton

  4. Supporting paleoartists is part of the challenge!

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  6. I agree that this is a great idea. Just 1 little problem: There are many paleo researchers & independent paleoartists. How are we to decide which ones to give $ to? This is especially hard for me given my issues ( http://www.examiner.com/article/decision-making-problems-adults-with-asd ).


    1. I thought about that quite a bit, and was the main thing that made me question even posting this. It felt wrong and arbitrary to select a single cause to contribute to. There is no single fund that serves to benefit research. I felt it was best to propose this idea and let people choose their own beneficiaries.

      That said, if you have trouble choosing, I'd choose a place that is close to you, or simply choose to buy a piece of artwork from a favorite artist.

    2. "or simply choose to buy a piece of artwork from a favorite artist."

      That reminds me: Which paleoartists are independent? Is there a list?

    3. Almost all of them! I just used the term to emphasize the fact.

  7. Suggestion for another campaign: My favorite drawing model ever needs a Forever Home. Help the Boston Museum of Science Keep Cliff! http://www.mos.org/keepcliff

  8. I think I'll visit the Iziko Museum, drop them a donation. They have tons of original protomammal material on display, and those guys never get enough love!

  9. Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article.
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