Crystal Palace Statues Helping with Outdoor Learning

Recently, Everything Dinosaur has been providing advice on how best to utilise the outdoor resources at the famous Crystal Palace Park in south London.  Schools have been invited to make the most of this area, with its historic “dinosaur statues”.  Outdoor learning is being encouraged and the park with its hard and soft landscaping as well as its iconic prehistoric animal figures makes a fantastic open space for creative activities linked to the English national curriculum.

One of the Dinosaur Statues on Display at the Park (Megalosaurus)

The Megalosaurus dinosaur at Crystal Palace Park.

The Megalosaurus statue at Crystal Palace – a dinosaur from 1854.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Prehistoric Animal Figures Not Just Dinosaurs

In reality, dinosaurs make up only a small proportion of the more than thirty statues on display.  The figures created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins with scientific input from the soon to be knighted Sir Richard Owen, who went onto to help found the London Natural History Museum, include marine reptiles, crocodilians, turtles and extinct mammals.  They were erected in the middle of the 19th Century (circa 1854) and they represent the first attempt to create life-size, dinosaur figures.  However, our view of the Dinosauria has evolved somewhat since the 1850’s and the dinosaurs, depicted as four-footed, tail-dragging scaly lizards, is wildly inaccurate by today’s standards.

Marine Reptiles Feature at Crystal Palace – Statues Inspired by the Discoveries Made by Mary Anning

Crystal Palace dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

Prehistoric animal figures at Crystal Palace, the world’s first “Jurassic Park”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Grade 1 Historic Monuments

All the figures are listed on Historic England’s “National Heritage List for England” as Grade 1 monuments.  This listing recognises the historic importance of these statues and a lot has been done to help preserve the dinosaurs and other figures as part of our country’s scientific and historical heritage.

In our advisory work, team members have suggested ways in which our changing views about the Dinosauria can be incorporated into the teaching programme.  The dinosaurs represented by the figures, the first three genera to be incorporated within the order Dinosauria, Megalosaurus, Hylaeosaurus and Iguanodon, show how our interpretation of the fossil record has changed over the last 170 years or so.  The statues provide a three-dimensional testament to how scientific ideas evolve and change in the light of new evidence.

The Iguanodon (Foreground) – A Modern Interpretation of an Iguanodontid

CollectA Deluxe Mapusaurus and the CollectA Deluxe Iguanodon

The CollectA 1:40 scale Iguanodon and Mapusaurus dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The spike associated with fossils of Iguanodon is now known to have been part of the hand (a thumb spike), whereas, in the 1854 model, the lizard-like Iguanodon statue has the spike incorrectly placed on the bridge of the snout.

One of the Iguanodon Figures on Display at Crystal Palace Park

One of the Crystal Palace Iguanodon statues.

One of the Iguanodon figures on display at Crystal Palace Park.  Note the “thumb spike” placed incorrectly on the nose.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Team members at Everything Dinosaur wish all those involved in the schools outreach programme at the Park every success.

To view scientifically accurate dinosaur models, including a 1:40 scale replica of an Iguanodon (I. bernissartensis): CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life Models and Figures

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