Reviews: Terrified by a Tyrannosaur; November 2004; Scientific American Magazine; by Richard Milner, Staff Editors; 3 Page(s)
When the late evolutionist and polymath Stephen Jay Gould was a toddler, he became fascinated and terrified by the towering Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History. Gould later claimed to have been instantly "imprinted" on the monstrous saurian, like a duckling on its mama. The little boy decided on the spot to become a paleontologist--years before he even learned the word.
In John Brockman's Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist, a collection of 27 autobiographical essays by leading savants, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker scoffs at this oft-told story. Pinker relates that Gould dedicated his first book: "For my father, who took me to see the Tyrannosaurus when I was five," and admires Gould's "genius...for coming up with that charming line." But he doesn't buy it.