25 years of doing science at the highest level alongside people, spreading awareness and raising awareness

Talking to a scientist in the province is made easy thanks to the Teruel-Dinopolis Paleontological Complex Foundation, which since its inception twenty-five years ago has made publication and proximity to the community its hallmark. And they have not stopped all this time and the illusion of communicating with the public has not stopped over the several generations of paleontologists who have passed through the scientific establishment in this quarter century. Along with the highest level of science they do, with publications that stand out in top-tier journals like Science, and the amazing discoveries that continue to happen, publication has been one of the goals set from the beginning, as stated in their statute. And they continue with it. Just this week they were in Mosqueruela holding an open day to promote the echinite site discovered there, and two days later they participated in the Desavio Buñuel Film Gathering with a conference on the new dinosaur described in the province, the Opletosaurus Buñueli, which pays homage to the entire audiovisual universe of the Calandino filmmaker.

Activities open to the public organized by the Dinopolis Foundation have been in existence since its inception in 1998. The work of paleontologists has led to the construction of the county-wide Dinopolis Fossil Park, which has been growing in this quarter century. As well as the results resulting from research conducted by paleontologists at the institution.

Paleontologists from the Dinópolis Foundation last Thursday at the Desafío Buñuel gathering, where Alberto Cobos gave a conference to publish the “Oblitosaurus”

Five decades later, these scientists can boast not only that they have discovered new dinosaurs and other species underground in Teruel, or that they have met the world’s most famous paleontologists, but that they have also published in a way that few research centers do.

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In fact, this is one of the outstanding topics in Spanish science, but on the other hand, at the Dinopolis Foundation this is one of its priorities. This is their commitment, as they devote a large part of their effort to doing this, and there are already many cases of children who, after participating in some activities of this kind, found a scientific career and even today they are part of this institution. A closed circle thanks to a research center that does not live closed or isolated from society, but on the contrary, has been open to it all these years to teach, train and, above all, raise awareness about the importance of the palaeontological heritage of the province of Teruel. This is how it is preserved and the people of Teruel are made the main actors of its protection, because only through knowledge can this heritage be appreciated and protected.

Throughout these twenty-five years, the Foundation has carried out multiple outreach activities. The open days that were held last May were considered a recent success, as 650 people participated in them, including students from various educational centers and the general public, whose registrations were filled out as soon as they were launched due to the interest they received.

Over the course of an entire week, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary and International Museum Day, the Foundation’s facilities were filled with people to learn about the work, which is not little, being done by paleontologists and restorers there. It was the scientists themselves who excavated and studied the bones, and they were the ones who provided interpretations to the people, adapting in each case to the age and level of the audience.

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But the organization has been doing this since its inception, in addition to engaging with those coming to it by proposing some media activities. It was they who created Geolodía nearly two decades ago, a day to bring geology and paleontology closer to citizens, which was so successful that it was soon copied first in Aragon and then throughout Spain.

Geodrome, Science Week or Museum Day are just some of the regular events that the Foundation holds with the public. This week they were in Mosqueruela to showcase new dinosaur icons to area residents and vacationers, encouraging scientific careers and respect for heritage, thus creating allies to protect it.

Paleontologist Lewis Mumble’s smile at an activity says it all


Years ago, the Dinópolis Foundation had already collaborated with the Amantes Foundation, another one of Teruel’s miracles that gave so much to the city and the province to revitalize it and turn it into a good cultural area, and this time it did again with the Buñuel Challenge.

Last Thursday, the Foundation’s Director General, Alberto Cobos, held a conference within the framework of the film festival to talk about the Oblitosaurus Buñueli, the last dinosaur described by Teruel paleontologists. It is a new genus and species, and its scientific name in Latin means “the forgotten lizard of Buñuel.”

Such is the association of the Foundation with the province to which it belongs, that it has linked one of its great discoveries, such as the new ornithopod fossils described, with one of the cultural heritages that the province owns, that of director Luis Buñuel .

During his thesis, Cobos alternated his explanations of the new discovery with explanations of why he connected with Buñuel’s character, not just to his film Los Olvidados, but to his entire cinematic universe and his life. Thus, plausible parallels emerged, and connections with Calandino’s film director’s career and the Dinopolis Foundation itself, from coincidences in the countries where they both worked (Spain, France, Mexico and the United States), to the insects trapped in amber that were caught. Found in Teruel sites that are reminiscent of the famous Buñuel spiders.

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Ana Gonzalez explains the location of El Pozo ichnite to students

Passion for teaching and ability to attract interest

Those who know the paleontologists at the Dinopolis Foundation know well that in addition to their scientific vocation, what drives them in their work is their passion for teaching others, and their ability to spark interest in paleontology, whether they be the great dinosaurs, or the tiny insects. Or the mammals closest to our species. Attending an informative activity with paleontologists such as Eduardo Espelez, Luis Mampel or Ana González is like letting yourself be carried away by their interpretations and envisioning stunning landscapes of the past from layers in the terrain, or to model an antediluvian animal from its bones. It is a release of the imagination, not the imagination, because what these paleontologists are depicting are life forms that existed in the past.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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