Suspension of Disbelief: Science's Ever-Changing Vision of Dinosaurs

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Suspension of Disbelief: Science's Ever-Changing Vision of Dinosaurs

Science fiction has a plethora of ideas about what happened in the past and what to expect from the future. Unfortunately, not all of those ideas are exactly plausible in reality. In Suspension of Disbelief, we’ll take a look at the best ideas from sci-fi movies, books, comics and video games to see where (and if) they intersect with the real world.


A segment of a dinosaur’s tail, complete with soft tissue and feathers attached, was found trapped in amber earlier last week. As it goes whenever more evidence is found that proves that dinosaurs had feathers, some of the reaction to the news consisted of complete denialism. That reaction is thanks to over a century of dinosaur movies, books, shows and comic books that have all used basically the same aesthetics and tropes to portray dinosaurs. Artists have been basing their dinosaurs on outdated science and as a result our culture’s image and are still deeply stuck decades in the past.

Paleontology’s modern understanding of dinosaurs is vastly different from what it was when the word “dinosaur” was coined in 1842. In the ensuing century-and-a-half since, the scientific method, along with constantly progressing state-of-the-art technologies, has raked over the ever-expanding fossil record over and over again to improve our understanding of dinosaurs.

Science’s hypotheses about dinosaurs’ size, posture, lifestyle, color, and physiology have all changed and developed over the decades. What we first thought were slow, cold-blooded lizards turned out to be agile, warm-blooded birds.

Click through the gallery to see how science’s vision of dinosaurs has evolved in a century-and-a-half.

Hailing from upstate New York, Cameron Wade is a freelance writer interested in movies, video games, comic books and more. You can find his work at