Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Origin Day!

Today marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin publishing his masterpiece The Origin of Species

One of these days, I'll have to actually finish reading the whole thing through...

(left) The triptych painting of The Evolution of Darwin: Boy, Traveler, Thinker I painted for this year's Darwin Day Celebration.

... I leave you with a picture (below) I took of the man back in 2006 at the London Natural History Museum, before he was moved.

Darwin and Huxley having lunch with their adoring public!
This was before they moved Darwin to the top of the steps in the Main Hall, replacing Richard Owens.
I wonder where Owens ended up?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Museums I've Been To: Europe - Part 1: Berlin

Berlin, Germany. 2002.

Our tour through the museums of 2002 Europe begins with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Established in 1810, this is a world-class institution containing two of palaeontology's crown jewel specimens - the Giraffatitan (Brachiosaurus) mount and the Berlin Archaeopteryx. I visited the museum in the summer of 2002, and it has since had a major refit and renovation, so much of what I will show here has changed. If anyone has descriptions of the new layout, I would love to hear it.
Archaeopteryx lithographica

Upon entering the museum, you are immediately dwarfed by the huge main gallery and its centerpiece, the brachiosaur (I will henceforth be incorrectly referring to the Giraffatitan as Brachiosaurus as I was in 2002 and because I want to. She will always be Brachiosaurus in my heart...) Flanking the gigantic sauropod are two more: a cast of the ubiquitous Carnegie Diplodocus and a lovely Dicraeosaurus.

(left) Me and Megalodon's Jaws.

The rest of the photographs speak for themselves. Most of the dinosaur fossils on display were collected during the 1903-1913 Tendaguru Expedition to East Africa (southern Tanzania). Led by Werner Janensch and Edwin Henning, over 250 tons of fossil bone was collected from this 150 million year old Late Jurassic deposit.

Giraffatitan brancai (Brachiosaurus)

Dicraeosaurus hansemanni
See the new mount in this wikipedia photo!

Kentrosaurus aethiopicus
It's new mount can be seen in the dicreasaur photo.

Plateosaurus engelhardti

Elaphrosaurus bambergi
Click here for the new mount!!! It doesn't even look like the same animal!

Dryosaurus (Dysalotosaurus) lettowvorbeck
See the updated mount here...

Stenopterygius zetlandicus

Some nothosaur (name?)

The Second Oldest Turtle = Proganochelys dux

Case of Swimming Things: Fish, seals, penguins, dolphins, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs.

The museum and some of the collections were damaged in February of 1945, when an allied bombing raid left the east wing in ruins. It is now finally being rebuilt.

Amazingly, Wikipedia states that less than 1 in 5000 specimens are on display! I'd love to poke around in their extensive collections and see what treasures I could find...

Thank you for joining me on this quick tour. But don't take my word for it, go to the Museum für Naturkunde the next time you're in Berlin, and say hello to my Brachio!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Berlin Brachio...er... Giraffatitan Reconstruction

Giraffatitan brancai Restoration - The New Berlin Mount

With ART Evolved's Sauropod Gallery up in all it's glory, I quietly added one more piece from me - a brachiosaur in pen-and-ink with dot-shading. Officially, it is a reconstruction of the new mount of the Berlin Brachiosaurus ...err... Giraffatitan branchai.

Giraffatitan. A name just not as cool as ol'Brachio. If you're interested in why this specimen was renamed, check out here and here. My interest lies not in the new name, but with the new mount.

Back in the summer of 2002, I traveled around Europe by train (good ol'Eurorail!), checking out the many museums and beer halls the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Germany has to offer.

Besides the beer, wine, rich food and chocolate consumed, one of my favorite things I found in Europe was the Berlin Brachiosaur - yes, still Brachiosaurus in 2002 - at the
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. It was huge - a mighty testament to an amazing animal as well as to the scientists who discovered, prepared and mounted her. Umm, created her mount. Yeah.

Still the tallest mounted skeleton in the world, the Berlin Brachiosaur was updated when the museum underwent renovations. Gone were the elbows-out arms and draggy tail. Now she strides elegantly in lovely Greg Paul-style, head held high and arms underneath.

You can see the transformation from the original pose in these 2002 pictures (before digital panorama ability!) and the new pose in the Wikipedia picture at the top of the post. Next to that new mounted Giraffatitan is my pen drawing of the animal reconstructed. As you can see, I moved the positioning of the back legs, to make it look more stable where it stands.

I love this specimen - one of my favorites out there, and when sauropods became the next ART Evolved gallery, it seemed right to reconstruct the Giraffatitan. (Though she'll always be the ol'definitive Brachiosaurus to me.)

Having delved into these old European museum photos, I feel the need to share them. And so begins a new series here on Bond's Blog - A Photographic Tour of Museums I've Been To: Europe - Part 1: Berlin. Coming soon...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Sauropod Gallery is UP!

Check out the HUGE Sauropod Gallery over at ART Evolved - it really is as gigantic as the beasts we reconstruct!