Rochat, do you see? Triple your T. rex, triple your fun
Sounds like a question you would ask a 6 year old: what’s cooler than having some type of tyrannosaur?
“Three Kinds of Tyrannosaurs!”
No, this is not Michael Crichton’s last film, but an honest paleontological debate. According to the New York Times, there is now a heated discussion about whether our records of the much-loved Tyrannosaurus rex actually show three different species. Taking up the royal tradition, a new article suggests calling them T. rex (“king”), T. regina (“queen”) and T. imperator (“emperor”).
It’s not that simple, of course. Classification never is. For critics, the differences are just individual variations — kind of like trying to suggest that LeBron James and Peter Dinklage are different species.
So what’s the problem ? A name is a name, isn’t it?
But names matter.
We know it in conversation. There’s no faster way to embarrass yourself than to call someone by the wrong name.
We see it in the news, whether it’s laughs about the polar ship dubbed “Boaty McBoatFace” or disbelief at the thought of calling a war a “special operation.”
It’s part of any area anyone cares about, from the serious to the silly. What is the name of the high school football team? Is Pluto really a planet? Is this superhero in the red suit called Shazam or Captain Marvel?
At all levels, names are wrapped in identity, memory, and how we see the world. And when some of that changes – when something you “always knew” may no longer be true – it can be a little unsettling.
And it hits a different level in dinosaur history: the importance of examining what we think we know.
The T. rex could stay as is. That could grow to three species, or 20. For most of us, life will go on as usual, aside from the occasional visit to the museum.
But the important thing is that it be examined, studied, discussed. Something thought to be true for over a hundred years is getting a makeover.
This is the part we can learn from. And that’s something we don’t do well as a species.
In public, we like to praise consistency, inflexibility, firmness. Any sign of change or uncertainty is quickly dismissed as faint or vapid. Psychological studies suggest that we generally use our reason to win arguments rather than to seek the truth, quickly clinging to what we believe and seeing challenges to our assumptions as an insult.
This kind of confirmation bias is difficult to eliminate. It’s easy to hear only what you want to hear and dismiss everything else. It’s a comfortable world to live in…and dangerous, like driving down a highway with your eyes closed because you know what the road ahead is like.
It is only when we question what we think that we can truly understand ourselves. When you are “always right”, no one else matters. If you let in the possibility that you are wrong, then it becomes important to see new perspectives and consider other points of view. To let each other in, work together instead of opposing each other.
It opens the world, and the heart with it.
Take the chance. Ask the question. Learn what is valuable and leave behind fossilized beliefs with the T. rex.
However there are many.