Ponderings of an Evolution Teacher: Why do Students Insist that Cavemen and Dinosaurs Lived at the Same Time?

     Often I have wondered why undergraduates and other educated people think that dinosaurs and cave men lived at the same time. It can’t be solely because they watched the Flintstones cartoon, could it? I am sure that does not help the whole problem; however there must be more to it. I mean, dinosaurs roamed the earth for approximately 165 million years and were extinct for almost 65 million years before humans evolved!
     During several recent encounters, I am beginning to see a trend in this misunderstanding. Hollywood has often produced movies and cartoons that put man and dinosaur together. But children specifically are targeted by this uninformative fairytale. For example, I was at a local (southeastern Virginia) elementary school for a craft fair when I observed a large mural displayed in the main hall. This mural shows a young boy and a dinosaur walking through a modern day landscape. Upon my asking as to why this mural existed, I learned it was because a young boy had passed away and he loved dinosaurs. Beautiful thought and action on the part of the school to immortalize this beloved child, however it does begin to improperly educate children that dinosaurs and people roamed the earth together…especially once the boy’s classmates leave the school and new, unfamiliar children enter. When you add this to toys that exist – children do not stand a chance to learn properly!
     Toys are a constant way for children to learn about many things. Parents often tailor what toys their children play with because they do not want their children to be exposed to violent or sexual situations. However, some parents will give their children toy guns, maybe because they live within a hunting community and this is a normal part of growing up. With all of the focus on making strong learning toys and creating environments that are realistic for children to learn in…why do toys like The Dinosaur Kit from Colorforms exist?

     Yes, this toy was originally marketed in the 60s, so it definitely helps explain why my generation has the misconception; however these misinformed parents continue to propagate the misconception and other toy offenders still exist.  I do think something so simple makes an even stronger impression on children than TV shows or movies. It is a simple message: dinosaurs and humans lived together! Yikes! Please, when buying toys for children, do not support the cave men and dinosaur myth. Help the next generation with their evolution education and their evolutionary acceptance.


Thank you.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by chris on February 11, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Can I buy that kit? I made a gaffe to someone just this weekend when i was joking about humans needing to work together to fight off dinosaur attacks. And I really think if i had this as a reminder I think I might make less factually incorrect jokes. Ebays all out.


    • Ah, this baby is spoken for! But with movies like The Good Dinosaur, we don’t stand a chance at correcting this fallacy any time soon. March on. Happy Darwin Day!


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