All they have in common is a dinosaur with one finger…

While scanning the Knight Science Tracker during breakfast, I came across a report about a new one fingered dinosaur, Linhenykus monodactylus. The article was interesting in that it focused as much on how other articles were reporting the newly described species as much as the dino itself.  The dinosaur has one finger-how different could reports on it be? Little did I know…

An artist's rendition of how Linhenykus monodactylus may have looked ( image courtesy of Julius T. Csotonyi)

Linhenykus belongs to a group of dinosaurs known as Theropods which includes Jurassic Park favorites T. rex and Velociraptor.  Normally they have three fingers on their hands, but this species has just one main finger with two nubs on each side.  While the function of the dominant digits is unknown, it gives Linhenykus a look to call all its own.

The BBC ran an article titled “Two-clawed and parrot-sized: new T.rex cousin unveiled”; a freakish two -fingered tiny cousin of T.rex? How could that NOT be exciting?  While the facts themselves were interesting, stylistically the article was very blunt and even read monotonous.  That’s great for science writing, but if I were a 5th grader- and how many of you as 5th graders loved dinosaurs?- I’m not sure how excited I’d be reading this.

National Geographic’s coverage with “First one-fingered dinosaur found-dug for bugs?” proved very different.  The same general information was presented but with a more approachable attitude.  I found myself much more interested in the new discovery and was pleasantly surprised to find a link to the scientific journal itself.  Less jargon and an emphasis on what makes Linhenykus unique had my inner 5th grader jumping up and down in excitement.

Two different sources, two different reporting styles; as a future educator, I have some very strong opinions about what makes for a successful article.  Its often hard to get people excited about science, particularly when it has to compete with Youtube and Glee for attention.  I know which article I think was more successful, what do you think?

About Wil Torres

Wil is currently a graduate student at UC Berkeley where he studies how a native California minnow's biology and ecology changes with temperature. His other interests include dance, cooking, sports and watching the Golden Girls. Ultimately he would like to change the general perception from "ugh, science?" to "YEAH! SCIENCE!"
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One Response to All they have in common is a dinosaur with one finger…

  1. Judy Scotchmoor says:

    What were some of the specific choices of words or narrative tone comparisons that sold you on the Natl Geog article?

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