STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 March 2013

Books For All

Ichthyosaurus, we know, is a popular animal. It is, unfortunately, always lumped in with dinosaurs, but it does get recognition to the point that any marine reptile that looks vaguely like a fish becomes an Ichthyosaurus. That being said, an Ichthyosaur, at the family level, is represented in the Walking with Dinosaurs series which can give us some behavior modelling, if we trust the science behind the life of Ophthalmosaurus as it is presented in that episode. Ophthalmosaurus is not an Ichthyosaurus however, and as such I am not going to go into too much discussion of that behavioral model as it is significantly different; the two animals did share similar niche roles in their environments but were obviously significantly different given that they are not the same taxonomically or cladistically. Regardless, Ichthyosaurus is instantly recognizable and, as such, has spawned many toys over the years.

Photo by Dr Andre Mursch
Some toys are obviously better than others. One of those, quite obviously, simply looks like a dolphin that a company renamed for the sake of having a "dinosaur" toy.

Another area that has become a home for Ichthyosaurus related public appearance is that of the scientific storybook. Scientific storybooks always give us a little informative piece and then, as the name suggests, a story about the key animals. This is not unlike the recent Discovery trend in dinosaur shows to name the main protagonist of the story, see Dinosaur Planet for examples, and then tell a tale (a tradition in the modern era of documentary begun by WwD's "Big Al"). Scientific storybooks, however, are usually geared toward upper elementary to high school (usually a stretch in high school though) students. We can see this progression in Ichthyosaurus related scientific storybooks rather well: Start in the 4th/5th grade range with Daniel Cohen's Ichthyosaurus or with Rena Korb's Discovering Ichthyosaurus; next would be Rob Shone's Graphic Dinosaurs: Ichthyosaurus; then we have a Brooke Hartzog book called Ichthyosaurus and Little Mary Anning (a book portraying a woman scientist as diminutive and written by a woman; sexism in science is a different topic though). High school aged students would go more for books like How to Draw books and, though it is older, Ron Wilson's Ichthyosaurus type books. The point is, there is a lot of material floating around in the literature ocean of the world about Ichthyosaurus just waiting to be chased down and read by all ages.

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