Being a bit of an old fossil myself, I find nothing more interesting than looking at other old fossils so I’m at Wollaton Hall (yes, Bruce Wayne’s house in Batman) to see some of the most important fossil specimens in the world showing preserved fossil feathers at the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition, from Ground Shakers to Feathered Flyers. These fossil discoveries from China significantly changed the way we looked at dinosaurs.

The stars of of the show are the preserved fossil remains that show soft tissue preservation with the very obvious feathers, and the upstairs at Wollaton Hall is dedicated to this.

Sinosauropteryx

Sinosauropteryx was the first feathered dinosaur to be described and had downy feathers.

Yanornis

Yanorniss from the late Cretaceous, 120 million years ago, was around 40cm long, the size of a chicken and covered with feathers.

Microraptor

Mircoraptor was a small feathered flying dinosaur from the early Cretaceous and a close relative of the Velociraptor.

Protopteryx

Protopteryx was an early bird with teeth and three-fingered hands showing that the earliest birds retained dinosaur like features.

 

Downstairs, we are greeted by the towering display of a huge long necked Mamenchisaurus.  23 metres long from head to tail, it’s taller than the big bloke who stands in front of you wherever you go, its actually taller than 3 double-decker buses on top of each other. Too big to display, it has been mounted in a rearing posture to fit inside the building and at 13 metres high is the tallest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the UK. This long necked, leaf eating, sauropod from the late Jurassic (160 million years ago) would have weighed an estimated 45 tonnes. Truly a ground shaker, you wouldn’t have wanted this stepping on your toes.

Sinraptor

Sinraptor led a violent life.

The one that really catches they eye though is the Sinraptor from the late Jurassic period of 160 million years ago. It looks a fearsome beast and this predator was at the top of the food chain. Over 7 metres long, it was the size of a minibus and not fully grown. Its skull is 90cm long with a set of sharp teeth and has sharp curved claws on its fingers and toes for catching and killing prey.

Guanlong

Guanlong had a delicate ornamental head crest and was an earlier cousin of the the Tyrannosaurus

 

Christmas dinner will never be the same again knowing that I’ve ate the evolved remains of a dinosaur for dinner. Whether that means they tasted like chicken remains unknown, even though we do know that birds are the modern day descendants of dinosaurs. I don’t know about you, but T-Rex doesn’t seem so terrifying now that we know his relatives had feathers, especially when you consider that Velociraptor had feathers and was only around 1/2 metre high. Clearly, Jurassic Park got it wrong.

Dinosaurs of China is not a large exhibition but it is well worth your time. When this exhibition is over, these fossils will be returning back to China.

Author

Nick Cook. Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it.

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