Tuesday, July 5, 2011


London's Natural History Museum has opened a temporary robo-dinosaur exhibit in Brighton's Churchill Square shopping centre. I just happened to be in the city (honest) on Sunday, and thought I'd pop in for at least as long an investigation as my unfortunate girlfriend would tolerate.

The centre of the mall will play host to this fearsome-looking animatronic collective until September 4, and they are in plain sight, completely free to view and rather popular with shoppers. From a purely aesthetic point of view, they're not too shabby at all - they move smoothly and quite convincingly for the most part (although the Tyrannosaurus is by far the best in this respect) and have well-executed skin textures and fine detailing. It's anatomical accuracy that's lacking.

When it comes to theropods, one can find Baryonyx, an unidentified ornithomimosaur, and Oviraptor positioned around the Tyrannosaurus centrepiece. The larger animals having been shrunk isn't the issue - it's the serious outbreak of Bunny Hands Syndrome. Even worse - in fact much, much more maddeningly, frustratingly anachronistic, awful and hideously ugly - the oviraptorosaurs are completely bald. Stark naked, scaly, and wrinkly, they belong firmly in the 1990s, and not at an exhibition endorsed by the country's national natural history museum. (Look, it's holding an egg too! Not implausible, but still very '90s.)

The ornithischians fare a little better. The Triceratops and Euoplocephalus have some anatomical flaws (the Triceratops' hands, for example), but none as screamingly obvious and downright offensive as the bald maniraptors. The red pupils of the Triceratops are a little weird, but credit is due for correctly giving the (rather adorable) juveniles stumpy horns and shorter frills, rather than making them scaled-down versions of the adult.

Wait, did I say Euoplocephalus? Well, that would have been because that's what it looks like. Of course, the experts who prepared this exhibit know better:

Oh dear. This is all rather embarrassing for the Natural History Museum - much as I love the place, it would be pertinent for them to verify the accuracy of the exhibitions they're endorsing. Elsewhere one can spot Ye Olde John Sibbicke art from the '80s, depicting a bald Troodon and fat Apatosaurus with elephantine feet. Granted, these robots knock the spots off anything produced in the '90s (just look at the Dinamation horrors and weep), but this is still some way from being a properly educational exhibit. Have a look if you're in Brighton (it's free!), but dino-nerds should definitely disengage their critical faculties.

1 comment:

  1. I was in Brighton on Monday 4th, visiting my aunt. I learned about this too late in the day to visit though, but I'll go back at some point. I was almost going to mention it to you, but I figured you'd probably know about it already; and so it proved.


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