IMG_20160612_134154No, this isn’t a rant about the older generation who have shamefully scuppered future generations’ prospects of prosperity and stoked racial and class hatreds by voting to leave the EU. By dinosaurs, I mean ‘real’ dinosaurs. Well, actually, ‘real’ animatronic ones.

IMG_20160612_125808This is because, for the third time, the dinosaurs are back at Chester Zoo! See my earlier post about them here for a short time only. IMG_20160612_124721

The well-rehearsed formula of the exhibition’s location and the arrangement of the dinosaurs is fairly similar to previous Mesozoic outings at the zoological gardens. The individual dinosaur species represented are mainly new – whilst others are simply repainted, including the popular water-spitting Dilophosaurus and Baryonyx.

IMG_20160612_114707This is a legitimate topic for this blog since, while not archaeology, it is a classic example of how ‘brining the past to life’ is a strategy of engagement in zoological gardens.


In addition to the themes previously discussed, I want to point out a few additional points.

  1. A particular new dimension is the crated nature of the dinosaurs. The idea is evoked that the dinosaurs have arrived, Jurassic Park-style, in crates. Visitors meet one by the main entrance, perched on top of another crate from which an eye looks out. There is another crate within the shop. It actually does make me wonder where the dinos really are the rest of the time, between zoo exhibits!?IMG_20160612_143053IMG_20160612_100444
  2. In addition to the crates, plant species make a more prominent appearance;
  3. Feathers are very popular, with the awesomely named : with the awesome utahraptor.IMG_20160612_115705
  4. The top attraction at the very end is the mega-sized hunter gigantosaurus.IMG_20160612_120353


As an archaeologist fascinated by cremation in past societies, there is a further dimension worthy of note. Two Deinonychus raptors attack a Citipati: even though they date from completely different epochs (the former Early Cretaceous, the latter Late Cretaceous). Citipati are bird-like dinosaur the size of emus, and they are known from superbly preserved Mongolian fossils.

Their name is a fabulous example of how cultures native to regions in which the fossils are discovered inspire the naming of the new species. The name citipati is Sanskrit for ‘lord of the funeral pyre’, and in Tibetan Buddhist folklore two monks beheaded by a thief whilst in a meditative trance are depicted as a pair of dancing skeletons surrounded by fire. This representation apparently resembled the striking fossil preservation scientists found.