Friday, April 20, 2012

Please don't tase the Ichthyosaurs

While browsing Flickr recently, I came across this postcard, shared by Jordan Smith. Ichthyosaurs get no respect. Either they're seen as nothing more than Mesozoic dolphins or overlooked as less spectacular than the pliosaurs or mosasaurs. But this has to be the most undignified treatment yet.

Prehistoric Gardens - Port Orford, Oregon

At least it's received a new paint job since then. The postcard is an advertisement for the Prehistoric Gardens, a roadside attraction in Port Orford, Oregon. It features the work of sculptor Ernest V. Nelson, who held firm that his work was "scientifically correct." Well, it's certainly not bad for mid-century paleontological thought. I love this psychedelic Dimetrodon and laughing Triceratops.

More Prehistoric Gardens
Photo by Vintage Roadside, via Flickr.

Their T. rex is appropriately old-school, and seems to be quite happy about it.

t-rex @ prehistoric gardens
Photo shared by Jaysonphoto, via Flickr.

Another highlight: the giraffe-patterned Psittacosaurus.

Vacation V- Prehistoric Gardens 14
Photo by Michael Hanscom, via Flickr.

I also found this great old map, which apparently still reflects the layout of the attraction.

Prehistoric Gardens Shared by Chango Blanco, via Flickr.

If slideshows with elevator music are more your speed, well, fullscreen this puppy and crank the volume.

I need to get to this place, if only to get a better look at that Eryops, which looks like a Simpsons character. But what I'd really love to see happen would be for some roadside attractions to start popping up which feature more up-to-date ideas. Any pretense to accuracy aside, it would be fun to see the wacky ways people would handle therizinosaurs, alvarezsaurs, and the host of other feathered theropods. Not to mention bringing in some of the wild variety of ceratopsids we've been treated to recently. Of course, if one of these lottery tickets would pan out one day...


  1. Ha! I've been to this of the most delightful stop-offs on our two-week-long OR coast journey back in the early 90s. A friend recalled visiting there as a kid back in the 60s and I daresay that other than new paint jobs now and then, the place hasn't changed.

  2. Great pictures, thanks for sharing - I always love horribly outdated (and the campier, the better) life size model dinosaurs (andotherprehistoricanimals). Will be visiting some next month and will of course be sharing.

    You know, judging by its head alone, that T. rex isn't THAT bad all things considered (like its age). I've seen much worse!

  3. Lol, the psychedelic Dimetrodon has to be my favourite out of all of these. Was kinda hopin' to see some of these roadside attractions when we drove across the country to San Diego, but no such luck. :\

    Not to sound annoying, but could you add my blog to the blogosphere links, please? It mainly features interviews with paleontologists and paleoartist, such as Tyler Keillor, Thomas Holtz, Mike Fredericks, etc. It'd be a swell boost in publicity.


  4. I adore that map!

    If you ever visit South Dakota, you must stop at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City. I've visited the dinosaurs there many times since I was little - they make these statues from Oregon look downright modern. The look on the face of the Tyrannosaur cracks me up every time I see it:

  5. love the look of this place and I love the setting. Oregon has such beautiful wooded areas. Can't believe I missed this while I was visiting my brother a couple of years ago. I will make it a point to go there now that I know about it!


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