Friday, June 25, 2010

The London Pterosaur ExTrAvAgAnZa!!!1!! in full glory

This is a hard post to write. It may be the big latte I’ve just drunk or possibly a sugar low, but there’s a genuine buzz about my fingers as I type this. In short, not too far away from the little cafĂ© I’m perched in now sits an enormous pterosaur exhibition that the University of Portsmouth amigos David Martill, Bob Loveridge, an army of volunteers and I put together over the last year and a half. It’s been up for several days on London’s Southbank after being installed through the night of Sunday the 20th of June (and I mean through the night: we literally didn’t sleep for 2 days) and will remain there for another week or so. We'll be taking it all away with another all-nighter on the 5th of July. Having a huge display that you personally constructed - and based on your own PhD work - on the Southbank is a little bit exciting, and the fact that I got to meet Princess Anne, attend a Royal Society Convocation (attended by numerous Royals, including Queenie herself) and have numerous people wanting to shake my hand on a job well done while standing around our work is pretty durned good.

Anyway, enough gushing: below is a little taster of what we’ve got in store for Londoners over the next week and a half. You can see the final of our BBC videos, documenting the installation of our flying animals, here and, at the top of this post and beneath this text, there's a series of photographs taken from the exhibition itself. At some point in the near future, I'll post more images detailing the development of the exhibition and some of the concepts we went through in designing and manufacturing the display. Once again, thanks to everyone who helped us out with this project and, for those helping us on the stand over the next few days, thanks in advance. Again, it'd be great to see some Pterosaur.Netters there, too: entry is free and, behind us, you've got the entire Royal Society Summer Science Festival to run around (and there's some really cool stuff in there, too. Obviously not as cool as our display, though). Details can be found here. Anyway, enough blurb: on with the images. Click to enbiggen.

The whole schebang: two giant walking azhdarchids, three flying jobbies, a considerable number of display boards and some bemused onlookers.

Mike O'Sulivan and Luke Hauser, dedicated pterosaur groupies and student volunteers, pose next to our life-size male Pteranodon image. Note that while Pteranodon is big, both Mike and Luke were in the loo when height was being dished out*. Hence, it may appear a little smaller in life.

*Only joking, guys. You're both fine, upstanding examples of the male form. I mean, look at Luke there. Look at Mike lean. Pwhoar.

Our female azhdarchid, who became known as Quetza, grabs Dinner, the hapless baby titanosaur. Kids love this. And by 'love' I mean 'question why we're so heartless'. And by 'question why we're so heartless' I mean 'strongly object'.

The head of Bamofo, our big male azhdarchid. While there's plenty of goofs on him, Bamofo is my favourite model: part azhdarchid, part Terminator, part King Kong: all foam.

The guys next to our gallery of pterosaur busts. Pteranodon and Tupandactylus are taking great interest in Luke's hair, and Coloborhynchus is about to take a chunk of Irish from Mike's arm.

What giant pterosaurs look like when you view them from above. If I was feeling trite, I'd call this a 'pterosaur eye-view'. Thankfully, I'm feeling stern and not in the mood for such things, so I won't.

Two of our flying models, complete with RAF roundels to commerorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I genuinely had nothing to do with them and, being suspended 10 m in the air and well out of reach, I've decided to learn to like them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Brotherhood of Leathery Wings goes to London

I’ve got a habit of withering on for ages when blogging, but that can’t be the case today: in a few short hours I’m off to London to install the University of Portsmouth/Royal Society ‘Pterosaurs: Dragons of the Air’ exhibition with my colleagues, Dave Martill and Bob Loveridge, along with a bunch of student labourers/slaves/groupies that we keep with us at all times. The last few weeks has seen us working like Japanese beavers trying to get everything finished (hence the lack of posts here) but, happily, we’ll be on display on London’s Southbank from the 25th of June to the 4th of July. More specifically, we can be found spread between the interior and exterior of Royal Festival Hall (see map, taken from a presentation I gave ages ago on the exhibition, below), not too far from Waterloo train station and the London Eye.

We’ve got 5 (count ‘em) giant azhdarchid models (two of which are standing on the ground as the world’s first Haenamichnus-inspired parasagittal terrestrial azhdarchid models), 13 pterosaur busts representing a broad sweep of their diversity, a life-size Pteranodon to have your photograph taken alongside and more information on pterosaurs than you could shake a stick at. It was a mammoth amount of work and special praise should be given to the students and other volenteers who put in so many hours in exchange for no more than a few pints of beer and, bizarrely, Southern Comfort and Coke (you know who you are). Simply put, these chaps were the cogs that helped our leathery-winged machine run smoothly, so they deserve considerable amounts of kudos, presents and praise.

You can meet our workforce at the exhibition and, in addition, we'll have several tamed pterosaur experts to chat to while you’re there. Along with myself, Dave and Bob, the likes of Darren Naish and Andre Veldmeijer will be dropping by to discuss all things pterosaurian. Two pterosaur-researching postgraduates from UoP, Richard Hing and Steven Vidovic, will also be on hand. The whole event, part of the biggest-ever Royal Society Summer Science Festival, is totally free to enjoy and should make for a great day out. It’d be fantastic to see some of the Pterosaur.Net readership there.

Right, I have to dash, but more on the exhibition will be posted when I get back. In the meantime, please enjoy two new images of giant azhdarchids penned back in January to advertise the exhibition. The image at the top shows our big male, Bamofo, terrorising some baby tyrannosaurus and, adjacent to this text, is the graceful Mistress swooping over a mudflat with bathing sauropods. See you all in London!