From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
By human standards, dinosaurs were creatures of fantastic appearance and often enormous size. As such, they have captured the public imagination and become an enduring part of human culture. Only three decades after the first scientific descriptions of dinosaur remains, the famous dinosaur sculptures were erected in Crystal Palace Park in London. These sculptures excited the public so strongly that smaller replicas were sold, one of the first examples of tie-in merchandising. Since Crystal Palace, dinosaur exhibitions have opened at parks and museums around the world, both catering to, and reinforcing, the public interest. Dinosaur popularity has long had a reciprocal effect on dinosaur science, as well. The competition between museums for public attention led directly to the Bone Wars waged between Marsh and Cope, each striving to return with more spectacular fossil remains than the other, and the resulting contribution to dinosaur science was enormous.
Dinosaurs hold an integral place in modern culture. The word "dinosaur" itself has entered the English lexicon as an expression describing anything that is impractically large, slow-moving, or obsolete, bound for extinction. The public preoccupation with dinosaurs led to their inevitable entrance into worldwide popular culture. Beginning with a passing mention of Megalosaurus in the first paragraph of Charles Dickens' Bleak House in 1852, dinosaurs have been featured in a broad array of fictional works. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 book The Lost World, the iconic 1933 film King Kong, the 1954 introduction of Godzilla and its many subsequent sequels, the best-selling 1990 novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and its 1993 film version, briefly the highest-grossing film of all time, are just a few prominent examples of the long tradition of dinosaurs in fiction. Non-fiction authors, including some prominent paleontologists, have also sought to take advantage of dinosaur popularity, especially among children, to educate readers about dinosaurs in particular and science in general. Dinosaurs are ubiquitous in advertising, with numerous companies seeking to utilize dinosaurs to sell their own products or to characterize their rivals as slow-moving or obsolete.