Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'Sophie'

The unveiling back in early December of the world's most complete Stegosaurus skeleton at London's Natural History Museum won't have escaped many folks within the palaeo community. Naturally, as the UK contingent of LITC and being within easy distance of the museum, Marc and I were duty-bound to make our own visit to the new treasure, even if we were over a month late (where were our invitations to the official do, pray?).


With over 90% of the original specimen present, 'Sophie' is a permanent addition of which the NHM can be justly proud. Rather than being secreted in the now problematic Dinosaur Gallery -- about which much has been written here and elsewhere -- she is instead given prime position of her own in the Earth Hall, near the museum's Exhibition Road entrance, paralleling that of 'Dippy' the Diplodocus in the central Hintze Hall. Mounted in a dynamic, defensive stance, she occupies a rather swanky platform of serried steps, somewhat reminiscent of the atrium of New York's Guggenheim museum.




This individual was reportedly only a young adult when it died, as suggested by 'some features of the hips', according to the signage. The specimen is also perhaps notable for having nineteen back plates rather than the commonly recognised seventeen. The skull here is a cast, though information on the NHM website seems to suggest that fragments of the original did survive.*

Obligatory photographic evidence of the intrepid goons' actual visit, taken by Nicole Heins -- who once contributed her own guest post!

Our readers will have doubtless seen Bob Nicholls' stunning painting commissioned by the museum as part of the exhibit. From the sublime, therefore, you will now be treated to the ridiculous: this doodle I drew on a Moleskine leaflet a while ago in an unoccupied moment (Marc said to include it in the post, 'fo sho', so there it is).



*I've since been informed by a friend who works at the NHM that the museum does indeed have the complete skull, and that the one on the mount is a 3D print of it!


10 comments:

  1. It's not a doodle, it's ART at its best.

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    1. You're very kind. :) Thank you!

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    2. I concur. The same goes for pretty much anything by Niroot.

      -Hadiaz

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    3. Thank you so much, Hadiaz.

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  2. Having been one of the NHM Dinosaur Gallery's many critics in the past, I'd just like to chip in here to say what a spectacular job they've done with the stegosaur mount. It's wonderful that it has an open space to itself, it's beautifully put together, the use of a plinth has allowed them to avoid putting it behind glass, and the lighting somehow contrives to be both dramatic and informative. A fantastic example of how to do it right -- congratulations to everyone concerned.

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    1. Agreed. Thank you for your apt observations, Mike!

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  3. Sorry to go slightly off topic, but I was wondering if you or Marc had heard about Dippy being forced to retire ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/dinosaur-forced-retire-natural-history-5061638 )? I ask b/c I think it'd make a good LITC article, especially given how 1-sided the Mirror article is. I'm especially annoyed by the claim that Dippy's "not relevant". Besides the problem of using immediate relevance to determine the value of natural history exhibits, anyone who's read Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life" knows that dinos are more relevant now than ever b-4.

    -Hadiaz

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    1. Yes, indeed. I think we all heard the news this morning. Make no mistake, I'm very sad to see Dippy retire, but I actually welcome the whale nevertheless. As it happens, I am planning a little something (very little, mind -- and as usual, not at all of real substance) about that, but perhaps there may be a post from one of us. See how things go...

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  4. What a beautiful animal!

    Any idea if they've scanned the entire skeleton, and not just the skull? It would be amazing if they'd put up a 3D rotatable version online for use to look at.

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    1. Lew, that would indeed be amazing, though I imagine that requires a deal of work. I'll see if I can find out more.

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