It’s my strong suspicion that most readers are generally aware of the dinosaur models at the former site of London’s Crystal Palace (and for those that are not, it’s not worth me simply adding another poor rehash to the large number of good ones available – in short Richard Owen managed to get the funds to have some models of his new ‘dinosaurs’ build for public exhibition and they are still standing). Obviously these are of great historical interest as they catch a moment in time when dinosaurs first hit the public’s imagination and of course the early interpretations that went with this – waddling behemoths and giant lizards.
Despite being a Londoner (well, from the edges) and my career, I’d never actually seen these things. My parents apparently tried to take me when I was young but couldn’t find them. So having a little time and unseasonally nice weather, we went over last week to take a look. They were rather more impressive than I’d expected being in generally great condition and there being rather more animals over a bigger area than I had expected. As a result I took a ton of photos and my intended single post will now probably stretch to a whole week’s worth of posts on the subject, and I’ll keep this as a general overview.
There are some nice notices dotted around which give a guide to what the animals are (or less charitably in some cases, supposed to be) and shows their changing interpretations and the basic information about them. The original plan was rather nicely done with most of the animals being on and around a series of small islands next to a large lake (though the water was a bit shallow and some extra land bridges had formed). Some of the trees were rather overgrown too meaning some animals could not really be seen very easily which was rather a shame despite the otherwise nice landscaping and use of ‘scene-setting’ plants like cycads. Some nice details of the original plan had survived too (if in imperfect condition) such as the crafted geological sequence complete with a fault and shifted beds, a great example for the layman.