When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a palaeontologist (and I knew how to spell palaeontologist without auto-correct) – in response to The Daily Post’s prompt ‘What you thought you’d be when you grew up‘
I’ve always been fascinated by dinosaurs for as long as I can remember. Many of my birthday presents were dinosaur-themed, such as the build-your-own card Stegasaurus and the magazine subscription to collect the glow in the dark Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. I used to come home from school with dirt and bits of bone in my pockets from digging in the dirt in the school playground (seriously).
One of my favourite VHS tapes was Dinosaurs: The Official Video of the Natural History Museum. I watched it so so many times. I can only vaguely recall it now, but it had rudimentary 3D scenes of Iguanodon running away from predators and slipping on the muddy river bank. Also old photographs of Palaeontologists and their discoveries including the famous drawing ‘Dinner in the Model of an Iguanadon’.
It was fascinating to younger me how we had to deduce what dinosaurs looked like, ate, and how they moved around etc from the evidence we unearthed, only to have later theories trump our ideas. Initially the Iguanadon was thought to walk on four legs, only to later be deemed to use two.. now it seems a bit of both. The ‘thumb spike’ was also thought to be a horn initially.
The video was also my first look at The Natural History Museum in London, and it remained on my bucket list for years as a place I dreamed of visiting. Incidentally, I did visit when I moved to London in 2007, and I fell in love with the building’s architecture. If you ever visit, look out for all the sculptures of creatures scaling the walls and ceiling.
The museum staff were kind enough to let me have a look in their archives as research for my project, and my reading on the conflicting views of creationism and evolutionism that informed the building’s decor have stuck with me. I produced this 3D scene, based on the idea that ‘Dippy’ the Diplodocus had come to life and escaped the museum. I’m really proud of it, although it’s easily overshadowed by this effort!
In 1993 Jurassic Park came out in the cinemas and I was thrilled. The dinosaurs looked amazing! I used to run around pretending I was a Velociraptor.. and who didn’t want to be Dr Alan Grant? The later films haven’t quite lived up to the first though they have their moments.
My dream job stayed with me until I reached Secondary School where I remember visiting the Careers Advisor. Needless to say they didn’t have a clue how one becomes a Palaeontologist so sent me away with some print outs on Archeology. High School me wasn’t impressed – I’m fascinated by archeology programmes now – and over the years the dream became extinct (see what I did there?). As a career choice, it seemed to be something you could only do if you happened to live next to a convenient desert. Not many of those in the UK..
What did you want to be growing up? If you could do anything now, what would your dream job be?