Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Today's Enfant Terrible of Dinosaurology

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Today's Enfant Terrible of Dinosaurology

Article excerpt

DIG THIS: Dinosaurs were not slow-moving, cold-blooded, stupid or available only in drab colors such as brown and gray. Furthermore, they are not extinct.

So says Robert T. Bakker, the man credited with changing the world's concept of dinosaurs.

Bakker (pronounced "Bocker") spoke last week at the St. Louis Zoo. Spoke is the wrong word. He spouted, he erupted, he strutted. And he laced his heavy-duty scientific data with one-liners, running gags and characterizations worthy of Robin Williams.

He also served as class cheerleader, saying, "Hey - you're a mammal! Be proud."

Bakker, 48, is a paleontologist. He discovered dinosaurs - in an issue of Life magazine - in 1955.

"Interest in dinosaurs is carried by a virus related to the mumps," Bakker said. "It's rare and dangerous to have an adult case of dinophilia."

Side effects nothwithstanding, it's possible to make a living.

Bakker has led 15 expeditions to the Mesozoic and Early Tertiary badlands of the American West. (If you want to go on future expeditions, call 800-DIG-DINO.) He has discovered two new species of Jurassic dinosaurs, 11 new species of earlier mammals and a huge collection of Eocene fossil mammals.

Bakker is the author of one book ("Dinosaur Heresies") and 38 scientific articles in such magazines as Science, Nature, Scientific American, Natural History and Audubon. He has developed two museum exhibits and he appeared in the PBS documentary "The Dinosaurs."

There's more: Bakker is the only scientist mentioned by name in the movie "Jurassic Park" and he appears on the CD-ROM version of the new Sega video game based on the movie.

All this - and he also impersonates chimpanzees.

Bakker's appearance lives up to his reputation as the enfant terrible of dinosaurology. (Actually, now that he's older, his enemies just consider him terrible. …

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