STL Science Center

STL Science Center

28 February 2013

A Positive Bias Fossil

Bias in the records, rock and fossil, are always of paramount concern to paleontologists and a positive bias, while not always a good thing, is far more welcome than a negative bias typically. Xiphactinus has been discovered in so many places, pieces, and configurations that it is a small but massively important positive bias center of the fossil record. This translates into a fairly large impact on popular culture. Xiphactinus appears in two major documentaries, Walking with Dinosaurs: Sea Monsters and Sea Monsters, as well as in video games such as Zoo Tycoon; it has been modded in. In true human/prehistoric animal interaction as seen with other Nigel Marvin/WwD BBC shows, Xiphactinus attempts to attack a person. At least the model used was fairly accurate though if not the premise of the episode. The Sea Monsters National Geographic movie is best described as a documentary that possessed highly qualified and wonderful technical/scientific advisers, but fell victim, in parts, to the Hollywood bug; as explained earlier this week by Mr. Everhart in response to a still from the movie "We tried to get the producer to NOT use the schooling X-fish scene... but he was after a dramatic effect, not scientific accuracy."

Xiphactinus does show up in collector's collections as well as statues and smaller figures. There is also a lot of artwork that features Xiphactinus; a simple Google image search or even going straight to a site such as DeviantArt and searching for Xiphactinus will show a rather long list of illustrations and paintings; some of which are fantastically beautiful.

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