NEW YORK — When did “Jurassic Park” go from a blockbuster movie to a conspiracy theory? A shocking new study finds nearly half of Americans say they’re convinced dinosaurs still exist in some remote corner of the world.
Researchers polling 2,000 adults discovered that four in 10 think the famous prehistoric inhabitants existed between 2,000 and 10,000 years ago – rather than between 66 to 230 million years ago. One in five even believe the dinosaur population only went extinct 100 years ago.
Fifty-four percent also believe all dinosaurs only lived in Africa and North America – unaware that scientists have unearthed their bones all over the world. Despite there being more than 1,000 different species of dinosaur, the typical adult can name just four – with the Tyrannosaurus rex being the most recognizable of all.
What do you call a blind dinosaur?
With Americans apparently passing along loads of misinformation regarding the dinosaurs, researchers were even able to slip a joke past most respondents. Six in 10 people agreed that there once was a dinosaur called the “Doyouthinktheysaurus.”
The research, commissioned by Boat Rocker Studios to celebrate National Dinosaur day on June 1, and the new preschool animated series “Dino Ranch” on Disney Junior, reveals 64 percent of today’s adults were “obsessed” with dinosaurs as children.
Of the 42 percent of respondents with children under 16, more than eight in 10 (84%) believe they’ve passed their love of dinosaurs down to the next generation. Three-quarters of parents in the survey add their kids are now more clued-up on the prehistoric creatures than they are. A further 84 percent of moms and dads said their children are now “obsessed” with dinosaurs too.
“Dinosaurs continue to fascinate – there is still so much we don’t know about them,” says paleontologist Professor Steve Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh in a statement.
“New discoveries by a vibrant generation of young scientists have really changed scientific perceptions of what dinosaurs were actually like, and we now know that they were smart, active, dynamic animals more like birds than overgrown scaly lizards as they are often depicted,” Brusatte continues. “To be completely correct, dinosaurs never truly went extinct at all – birds descended from dinosaurs, which makes them dinosaurs.”
Adults need a refresher on their prehistoric knowledge
The OnePoll survey also reveals that three in 10 adults believe dinosaurs walked on Earth at the same time as prehistoric humans – despite there being around 65 million years in between them. Moreover, one in four think dinosaurs shared the roaming plains with modern elephants. While closer, scientists say even these giant mammals arrived 10 million years after the dinosaurs disappeared.
Researchers also challenged adults to name common dinosaurs from pictures and found more than two-thirds were unable to pick out the long-necked Brontosaurus from a line-up. Another 47 percent couldn’t even identify the famous three-horned Triceratops, despite it being a favorite of many children over the years.
“It’s brilliant to see that shows like Dino Ranch are helping to drive a strong love of dinosaurs in kids’ today, and these magnificent creatures still have an audience,” says Matt Fernandes, creator of the preschool series. “Children love to hold special knowledge over adults and I would say that most children can educate their parents on a variety of intricate dinosaur facts. The idea that giants walked the earth millions of years ago sparks a child’s imagination, without the fear of ever running into one.”