This comic by Bill Watterson featuring “Calvin and Hobbes” struck my interest while I was surfing online the other day. It is intriguing because it combines two different worlds: the prehistoric and the modern. It features a giant T-rex in comparison to the much smaller creatures, Calvin and Hobbes. A lot of uncertainties have been expressed by paleontologists about the actual phenotypic appearances of dinosaurs. One in particular is the outer skin layer of T-rex. The skin of dinosaurs has been postulated to resemble modern-day reptilian scales, but some studies have presented the possibility of dinosaurs having leather-like skin instead. But this only covers the physical appearance of these well-known giants. There is a whole other side that discusses the importance in the way that knowledge about these organisms is obtained.
I think that this comic is worth sharing because it shows that the public’s perceptions are often influenced by what the media states. In this case, the comic is showing that a T-rex likes to eat mustard, when in reality we often think of T-rex species as solely carnivores. To an audience that is not entirely familiar with the role T-rex were expected to play in the food chain during the prehistoric era, it might seem natural that T-rex were solely dependent upon a carnivorous eating habit. However, many people can probably deduce from the large and sharp teeth affixed to the T-rex mouth that its diet consisted of meat and flesh. On the other hand, science is not always this easy to figure out as the media acts in other ways to mislead audiences. Take for example the media coverage in the time frame when Marie Curie was around. The media reported on Curie’s supposed love affair after the death of her husband. In certain times, the focus was not on her important radium-related research, but rather on this affair. This could have weakened Curie’s status as a female scientist which was already a difficult career to pursue during the early 20th century. Just think, the alteration of perception happens all of the time, even in the realm of science when things are meant to be factual. Here, the dinosaur serves as a metaphor for what our beliefs really are. Our beliefs are nothing more than a story told by someone else.
Calvin and Hobbes comic from July 3rd, 1990. Made available by go comics.com.