The model pictured above is an artistic and scientific re-imagining of the recently discovered Bambiraptor. The Bambiraptor was a bird-like carnivore, which ran on two legs and likely had feathers. The most complete specimen was discovered in 1993 by 14-year-old Wes Linster in Glacier National Park. Linster’s discovery was monumental not only because it was 90% complete, but also because the specimen was a juvenile with a skeletal structure similar to modern birds and appeared to have feathers. This discovery provided further evidence of the link between dinosaurs and birds.
While we might think that advances in technology have rendered the arts irrelevant to science, the AMNH and other natural history museums uphold the tradition of modeling specimens and placing them in dioramas. Models and artistic imaginings of the unknown, such as the Bambiraptor, remain important to scientific research today, but their use in education opens vexing questions. On the one hand, art makes possible the study of the unknown through familiar ways of knowing and seeing the world; the lifelike Bambiraptor model seems to better convey what the actual dinosaur was like than its bones alone could. On the other hand, artists always have to take some liberties in what they represent. How can we parse fact from fiction, knowledge from fabrication, to understand the natural world, or do these seemingly opposite terms, in fact, go hand-in-hand?
Written by Katrina Van Dyke
Explore. Instigate. Build new knowledge.