By Gowan Dawson
I have just published a book, Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America, on which I have been working for a very long time. In the book’s acknowledgements I describe it as ‘a labor of curiosity’ that began ‘more than a decade ago’. Even this, though, is a rather conservative estimate, as I first conceived the idea for Show Me the Bone way back in 2001 or 2002 when I was a postdoctoral Research Fellow on the precursor to ‘Constructing Scientific Communities’, the ‘Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical’ or ‘SciPer’ project. An inevitable consequence of spending such a long time researching and writing a book is that you encounter new ideas and approaches that change, sometimes only subtly but on other occasions more dramatically, the book that had already taken shape in your mind. One of the most important new approaches that I came upon when putting Show Me the Bone together, although I encountered it quite late in the process, was citizen science of the sort practiced by Zooniverse.