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America’s Real Mascot: The Dinosaur

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“The same old gang was hanging out at Prehistoric Petrol, reading The Origin of the Species as was their tendency.”
— Unpublished Novel by an Unspecified Author

Everyone loves dinosaurs. Maybe it’s because they’re as close as we’ll ever get to seeing real monsters. What’s not to like?

Some prefer them scary, like the raptors in Jurassic Park.

Some prefer them cute, like the dino friends in the 5,000 sequels of The Land before Time. Or domesticated, like Dino, Fred’s pet in The Flintstones.

Some (me!) prefer them stop-motion rickety, like the ones in King Kong and the silent version of The Lost World.

Even these statues erected in 1854 before anybody knew how dinosaurs really looked are awesome:

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In fact, just about the only dinosaurs people don’t like are those run-of-the-mill lizards with cardboard fins pasted on their back magnified to look as big as a mountain, popular in movies of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

But that’s because they’re not really dinosaurs.

Yep, these “terrible lizards”—which we know now aren’t lizards at all—have been part of the American landscape for decades. On Monday and Tuesday we provided links that spotlighted how the retail petroleum industry co-opted the dinosaur as a mascot, but they also pop up when you least expect them as we found out when we were undertaking research for our posts earlier this week. We didn’t have room to include all of them, but now, to cap off the SSCS Blog’s unofficial Dinosaur Week, we thought we’d share a few more of our favorites with you.

First, even though we’ve already given thorough props to the Sinclair dinosaur (named Dino—not to be confused with the Flintstones’ pet), we think he warrants one last article because of his uniquely high profile. This article is from the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, and gives a complete overview of Dino’s creation and development (he was born in 1930). Some excellent vintage pictures are included.

The good folks at Cabazon Dinosaurs would like us to know that they have the world’s biggest dinosaurs. If you’re ever near Palm Springs, California, see for yourself.

In Oregon, cyclists are often surprised when Breezy the Triceratops makes the scene. Heads up, health enthusiasts!

If you live and work in the Southern part of the U.S., here’s a guide just for you.

And while all of the above is great stuff, we’ve saved the best for last: this photo essay of roadside dinosaurs, the definitive collection, from the Smithsonian website.

When you think of America, feel free to think of hot dogs, apple pie and C-stores. And throw jazz and the superhero comic book in there while you’re at it. But don’t forget the dinosaur. It’s part of our shared heritage, a mascot we can all get behind.

Step aside Uncle Sam, T-Rex is getting loose up in here.

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