Dinosaurs: facts and fiction

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Dinosaurs: facts and fiction

Dinosaurs were ‘borne’ officially in 1842 as a result of some truly brilliant and intuitive detective work by the British anatomist Richard Owen , whose work had concentrated upon the unique nature of some extinct British fossil reptiles.

 

At the time of Owen’s review, Animatronic dinosaur he was working on a surprisingly meagre collection of fossil bones and teeth that had been discovered up to that time and were scattered around the British Isles. Although the birth of dinosaurs was relatively inauspicious (first appearing as an afterthought in the published report of the 11th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science), they were soon to become the centre of worldwide attention. The reason for this was simple. Dinosaur costume Owen worked in London, at the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, at a time when the British Empire was probably at its greatest extent. To celebrate such influence and achievement, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was devised. To house this event a huge temporary exhibition hall (Joseph Paxton’s steel and glass ‘Crystal Palace’) was built on Hyde Park in central London.

 

Rather than destroy the wonderful exhibition hall at the end of 1851 it was moved to a permanent site at the London suburb of Sydenham (the future Crystal Palace Park). Animatronic animal The parkland surrounding the exhibition building was landscaped and arranged thematically, and one of the themes depicted scientific endeavour in the form of natural history and geology and how they had contributed to unravelling the Earth’s history. This geological theme park, probably one of the earliest of its kind, included reconstructions of genuine geological features (caves, limestone pavements, geological strata) as well as representations of the inhabitants of the ancient world. Owen, in collaboration with the sculptor and entrepreneur Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, populated the parkland with gigantic iron-framed and concrete-clad models of dinosaurs (Figure 2) and other prehistoric creatures known at this time. The advance publicity generated before the relocated ‘Great Exhibition’ was re-opened in June 1854 included a celebratory dinner held on New Year’s Eve 1853 within the belly of a half-completed model of the dinosaur Iguanodon and this ensured considerable public awareness of Owen’s dinosaurs.

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