Thursday, 24 November 2016

Talk : Ground Shakers and Feathered Flyers

Another informative guest post from @GavSquires (with linkage from NSB):

Between July and October 2017, a dinosaur exhibition comes to Wollaton Hall - "Ground Shakers and Feathered Flyers" Dr Wang Qi and Dr Adam Smith give a bonus talk at September's Skeptics in the Pub event to tell us all about it.

Wollaton Hall was built in 1588 and since 1926 it has been home of the Nottingham Natural History Museum. With over 40,000 fossils it is one of the largest provincial museums in the country. Next year, the Great Hall and Willoughby Hall will be home to some large dinosaurs and some scientifically important ones. The specimens are coming over from the IVPP in China and have been personally chosen by Wang and Adam. For some, it will be the first time that anybody outside of China has seen them.

Dinosaurs of China, coming to Nottingham

There is going to be a 3D mounted skeleton of a Gigantoraptor, so not the real bones but it is anatomically accurate. At 8 metres long by 4.5 metres high, this was the largest feathered dinosaur. The Microraptor was a much smaller species, which had feathers on its forearms and legs. These are genuine fossils, extracted in China and is actually a holotype specimen (the original example that was used when the species was formally described) With these, it's hoped that people's perceptions of what a dinosaur is.


Artist impression of a Microraptor
PNSO Artist: Zhao Chuang

Other specimens coming to Nottingham include the Sinraptor, which is not feathered. It's 7 meters long and is essentially a Chinese version of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Linheraptor specimens aren't real fossils but are flat casts that are then painted up. These dinosaurs were related the Velociraptor but were bigger (although not as big as the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park)

Artist impression of a Linheraptor

The Mei Long is a "sleeping dragon". At only 20 centimetres long, it is one of the smallest dinosaurs and they exhibit the same behaviour as sleeping birds. Guanlong was a meat eating dinosaur and was one of the early ancestors of Tyrannosaurus Rex. It had an unusual crest on its head that looked like a crown.

Mei Long Fossil

Artist impression of Mei Long

The north border of China, near the Mongolian border, was home to the Gigantoraptor. This area is now so well known for dinosaur discoveries that even the highways have sculptures of dinosaurs on them. In 2005, Tan Lin discovered the Gigantoraptor but only 50% of a complete skeleton has been found.

Later, a Japanese TV crew went to the area to film a documentary about finding Gigantoraptor. They set up a shot where they were pretending to discover it for the first time. They thought that they would be able to find the bone of something that had seen before but they actually found something brand new. The TV crew had to be escorted away so that this completely new discovery could be investigated.

The whole region is a goldmine of findings from the Cretaceous Period. Just south of the Gigantoraptor site, there are even more feathered raptors to be found. In fact there are so many samples and they are so easy to get hold of that local collectors could easily open their own museums!

For more information about the exhibit at Wollaton Hall and to buy tickets, visit the website:

[And to read more about the evolution of feathers in dinosaurs, get clicky here, here, here and here].

Related Content
The World in Ten Fossils, Fee- An autobiography

Image Sources
Giganoraptor, Microraptor, Linheraptor, Mei Long, Mei Long impression

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