In 1924, the model-making company Messmore & Damon, Inc. of New York unleashed their masterpiece: the Amphibious Dinosaurus Brontosaurus, a moving, breathing, roaring animatronic dinosaur, based on displays in the American Museum of Natural History. Over the 1920s and 1930s, this became the focus of an ever-increasing publicity campaign, as Messmore & Damon exhibited prehistoric automata in department stores, the media, and the Chicago World Fair of 1933-34. These displays were hugely popular and widely discussed, drawing from the increasing public appeal of paleontology. Mixing commercial entertainment with invocations of scientific value, Messmore & Damon's prehistoric creations offer a window into the meaning and popularity of the deep time sciences in early-twentieth century America, and the links between science and spectacle in this period.
Keywords: Automata; Commerce; Dinosaurs; Evolution; Paleontology; Sensation; United States; World's Fairs.
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