The Dinosaurs of Crystal Palace Park

There are no live dinosaurs – apart from some older persons like me – wandering around Crystal Palace Park. When the park was designed in 1851, two islands were created in the lake at the southern end. On these islands some sculptures of creatures from the Secondary and Tertiary periods were to be displayed for the amazement of visitors. 33 such creatures were crafted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. Many of those sculptures survive to this day.

Not all the creatures were Dinosaurs – the Tertiary period was the age of the Mammals and there are some Irish Elk to be found…

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However, we’re here to see the Dinosaurs on the Secondary Period island – Here are a pair of Iguanodon…

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A Labyrinthodon…

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…with some tasty morsels in the background😂

There’s Ichthyosaurus hiding in the weeds…

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…along with a pair of Teleosauri…

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…I’m not convinced that those are entirely extinct 😟

Then there’s a Plesiosaur…

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…suffering the unwelcome attentions of some saurian descendants😂

And finally, the Megalosaurus…

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Just as the Dinosaurs were of a particular period in the Earth’s history, these models belong to a period in the history of Palaeontology. First displayed in 1854, they excited an interest in fossil hunting and scientific understanding. Just 40 years later they were a laughing stock among serious palaeontologists with species such as the Megalosaurus now known to have been bipedal. Today’s visitors enjoy those that are left for what they are – fascinating sculptures of strange beasts. Classed as Grade II listed buildings in 1973 and upgraded to Grade I in 2007, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’ animals have been repaired and restored over recent years and look to be safe for future generations to enjoy.

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