This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Dinosaur Theme Week



We’ve mused multiple times over the years about the duality of technology, in general, and the internet, in specific. The net can capture us in its doom-scrolling, trivial addiction-abyss, keeping us from touching grass for longer stretches than we’d like to admit. Millions of hours of entertainment sit behind a few keystrokes at all times, and – let’s be honest – most of it is drivel. Yet, the internet also opens us to real exploration we could otherwise not access.

During the project, a few times, we have highlighted channels that inspire us or offer glimpses into the natural world beyond the grasp of most. During the early stages of the Covid pandemic, we explored Mediocre Amateur, a YouTube channel of non-mediocre climbers going to gorgeous mountains. They have remained a constant touchstone for this project. Nearly a year into the pandemic, we discovered WildEarth, a company that live-streams safaris in southern Africa. For those of us on other continents, they take us places and show us critters we could never experience on our own.

We found WildEarth on Twitch, but they have since ceased airing on that platform, exclusively moving to YouTube and television. Twitch is known more for video game streaming, but, every once in a while, incredible outdoor programming pops up. You can watch otters frolickingwolves lazingfjords fjording, and backyard animals munching. You can watch my daughter’s favorite marmosets, Appa and Momo. Want to go on a virtual hike in the Canadian Rockies? Twitch has you covered.

And, recently, I discovered a channel that allows me vicariously to fulfill a childhood aspiration.

When I was a child, like many youngsters, I loved dinosaurs. It’s interesting and gratifying to see my daughter delight in dinos, too. I thought digging up dinosaur bones for a living would be one of the best ways to spend a life. After Jurassic Park arrived, that notion only increased. But becoming a paleontologist seemed a profession out of reach.

Of course, dredging bones in desert climates would be a lot less glamorous than Alan Grant made it look in the film.

Now that I have stumbled upon Paleontologizing on Twitch, however, I can get a taste of what paleontology actually looks like in the field. Run by bona fide paleontologist Danny Anduza, the channel films at active digs. He coined the term “paleontologizing” to be the verb form of his discipline. On air, Anduza fields questions from viewers and illustrates the laborious process of careful excavation.

Currently, he is in Wyoming, where a team is unearthing a duckbill dinosaur skeleton, which they believe will be a new species and potentially a new genus.

As incredible as the live looks are, the streams buzz thanks to Anduza’s knowledge and exuberance for the subject. To a layperson, he seems to be a walking dino encyclopedia. What draws me to his educational exhortations, however, is his ability to communicate when he knows he is not an expert. Instead of fumbling through a topic – gastroliths in dinosaurs, during the stream linked above, for example – he explains what he knows and invites watchers to find additional info when he does not feel qualified or confident.

And, as much as we like to learn on our own around these parts, few things are as engaging as listening to a passionate expert. Anduza loves dinosaurs and he wants you to love them, too.

When I was young, I knew no one who could point me toward becoming a paleontologist. Had something like Paleontologizing existed then, perhaps I could be in Wyoming on a dig, pretending to be Indiana Jones or Alan Grant. As my children grow, maybe a resource such as this channel will foster their love for dinosaurs – or some other topic – and push them toward a passion.

Even though I figure my dino-future is now a fossil, these types of virtual explorations are not only fun but beneficial. As we learned when we studied Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese term for “forest bathing,” being outdoors is good for the mind and body. As researchers study the effects of nature more, they find that even viewing pictures of the woods or the desert can be advantageous to human health.

Transporting ourselves to late Cretaceous rock in Wyoming, looking for a new species of dinosaur, might not only be educational and entertaining. It could be good medicine. Paleontologizing is worth your click.

Further Reading and Exploration

Paleontologizing – Twitch Channel

Paleontologizing – YouTube Channel

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