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 café 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.


  1. Truly awesome -- many congratulations indeed! I am still trying to find a legitimate excuse to get up to London before it's all over, but I don't know whether it's going to happen.

    Do you mean that you had nothing to do only with the RAF roundels, or with the flying models at all?

    And the question everyone's asking (at least, everyone who's commented on this blog entry so far): what's going to happen to these models when the exhibition's over? Surely the NHM would love to have them on permanent exhibit?

  2. Fantastic. Congratulations!
    Especially in the photo looking down on Quetza, these look so top-heavy they seem likely to topple head-over-heels. Has the process of modeling these guys in full-scale glory lead to any new ideas, questions?

  3. This looks like tons of fun. If only I wasn't thousands of miles away. Or had thousands more dollar bills in my wallet.

  4. You know, I have never been more sorry for being a poor stundent living in the wrong end of Europe. It would have been awesome to see this. Though I'm glad to get to see the photos, at least.

    You have really worked hard. If I wasn't a poor student in the wrong end of Europe, I would give you another handshake on a job well done.

  5. This looks great. Please say it's going to tour the world for the rest of us poor shlubs!

  6. I'm in the same boat. Across the pond and no cash. Sigh.

    Mark, if you need to store those, I think I could fit Bamofo in my stairwell if you can get it shipped here. :-)

    Brilliant stuff. I do hope you're indulging in some entirely unrestrained.

    Mike from Ottawa

  7. Excellent! They look great. Now to do my 1/10 Quetz, but first a tyrannosaur skeleton to finish....

  8. The word "pride" should be at the end of that last sentence in my previous post.

    Mike from, and sadly stuck in, Ottawa

  9. This is superb and feels like the sort of thing that only ever happens in London. I’m reminded why London is such a great place to visit!

  10. Wonderful, and I'm sure there's so much more to come..