Historical analogies* are good tools for cartoonists. Big events in history that we all know about can be used to describe current events. Especially in natural history.
The dinosaurs are one of the most fascinating parts of history; how they came into being, their rule over Earth for thousands of years, and their extinction.
I know as a school student I was possessed by the need to find out more about these giant reptiles of the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods.
Drawing them was my passion, indeed every project on dinosaurs I did was festooned* with large colourful drawings of the creatures.
This week two news stories led me to start drawing dinosaurs again. One was the discovery of a huge plant eating dino in the Cooper basin in Queensland. They nicknamed the fossil “Cooper” in keeping with the area, and it is the largest dinosaur found in Australia. Exciting stuff!
The other news story had to do with the coronavirus. Yes that again! The story was about the continuing noise coming from a small group of anti-vaccine supporters who were spreading disinformation* about the Covid vaccines on social media.
This was leading to vaccine hesitancy among some people at a time when we need everyone to get on-board and get vaccinated.
Vaccines are an amazing tool that humans have to combat deadly diseases. Vaccines have seen the end of diseases like polio and have been proven to work.
But some people believe they know better because they have done their 15 minutes of research on Facebook rather than trust experts like Professor Peter Doherty*!
That led me to think about the dinosaurs and how they ruled the earth for so long, a bit like us now. Of course the dinosaurs came unstuck when it is believed a giant meteor struck Earth and brought about a severe climatic change (there’s another discussion for later) which ended up with their extinction.
I thought I would draw a cartoon comparing us with the dinosaurs. In it I drew the coronavirus as the meteor. In the cartoon it streaks across the sky, its impact yet to be felt.
Of course the meteor’s consequences were devastating for the dinosaurs, but we as humans have a defence against this metaphorical* meteor: we have a Covid vaccine which can assist us in reducing the effects of the virus.
But the anti-vaxxers in our community are sceptical*. In the cartoon I have depicted them as dinosaurs sceptical of the impact of the meteor. They scoff* at a vaccine to protect them from the meteor’s effect.
But we know what happened. The only place you’ll see a dinosaur today is in a museum!
Let’s hope we can be wiser and listen to our best and brightest scientific minds!
- analogies: comparisons between one thing and another
- festooned: decorated
- disinformation: false information which is intended to mislead
- Professor Peter Doherty: very well respected scientist who is an expert in the body’s immune system
- metaphorical: intended to represent or symbolise another thing
- sceptical: have doubts, not easily convinced
- scoff: talk or act in a way that shows you think something is stupid or silly
- What news event prompted Mark Knight to include dinosaurs in his cartoon?
- What is the meteor a metaphor for?
- Who do the dinosaurs represent in the cartoon?
- Which expert does Mark suggest people should trust?
- What does Mark say humans have as protection against the effects of coronavirus?
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A metaphor is the use of one thing to represent or symbolise something else. Mark Knight uses the meteor that wiped at the dinosaurs as a metaphor for the coronavirus.
Think of another metaphor for the coronavirus and the impact it has had on the lives of so many people in Australia and around the globe.
Explain why you chose this metaphor and how you would use it if you were creating a cartoon like Mark’s.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking
Draw a cartoon using your metaphor for the coronavirus. Think about what you are trying to say with your metaphor and about the impact of the coronavirus.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking
Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.
Using your sentences to help you, write a caption for the cartoon or some thought bubbles or quotes from the dinosaurs in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.