If you watch a lot of dinosaur documentaries he is the guy with the big hair, big hat and big beard. And the guy with the big ideas. He led the world when it came to changing ideas on dinosaurs and their behaviour.
It was Ostrom and Bakker who showed us that dinosaurs were amazing creatures
Those ideas eventually were incorporated into the likes of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World and we now think it silly to think of dinosaurs and oversized, slow, swamp dwelling beasts unable to survive in the Mesozoic world and overdue for extinction. He published his book, ‘Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of Dinosaurs and their Extinction’ which assisted in driving the revolution in dinosaur thinking.
It was in this book that he lent weight to the theory that dinosaurs, at least in some cases, were warm-blooded animals that sucessfully ruled our planet for 200 million years. He also popularised the theory that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds –an idea first put forward b Huxley over a hundred years earlier and again proposed by his great teacher John Ostrom. This idea had been laughed at at the time but of course is now widely accepted by the palaeontology community and the public at large.
Bakker saw his first dinosaur at the American Museum of Natural History when he was a kid, and then when he was eight he saw a copy of Life Magazine with dinosaurs on the cove, and has been hooked ever since. He studied at Yale University under John Ostrom, another famous palaeontologist. It was at Yale that he and John Ostrom put forward the idea that dinosaurs were not cold-blooded dullards but warm blooded, highly adapted, smart and social animals.
He then went on to Harvard to study anatomy and zoology and received is PhD in 1971, following which he lectured Anatomy at John Hopkins University, all the while continuing with his study of dinosaurs and working with John Ostrom. Those two are credited with the dinosaur renaissance which has led to the ongoing blooming of dinosaur studies across the globe. Much of his work has been done in Wyoming and especially at Como Bluff, but he has travelled to Mongolia and hey, even visited us here in South Africa on his studies of dinosaurs and their environments.
Bakker has written popular books, and was caricatured in Jurassic Park as Dr Robert Burke – who was eventually eaten by T Rex. He helps out at the Tate Museum in Casper Wyoming, is the director of the Morrison Natural History Museum in Colorado, Visiting Curator at the Houston Texas Museum of Natural Science and when he isn’t doing all of that he consults for museums and other organisations. He lives in Wyoming and Colorado, and is active in leading fossil digs, focusing of course, on dinosaur bones in the State of Wyoming
So Dr Bakker is an amazing guy – a revolutionary thinker, writer, novelist and artist. Clearly a man in love with his craft and it just shows. Hats off to Dr Bob Bakker – Palaeontologist Extraordinaire!
Please leave your comments and tell us how much you like the DinoZone.