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OXFORD MUSEUM



I spent yesterday at Oxford University's Natural History Museum: 
Dave Martill and I went there to photograph _Iguanodon_ bones sent 
to Buckland from the Isle of Wight, but we ended up having a look at 
everything in the whole musem. It was spectacular - not just because 
they have such wonders as mounted specimens of 
_Eustreptospondylus_, _Camptosaurus (=_Cumnoria) preswitchii_ 
(both of which have been remounted and are in new postures), a cast of 
the proposed _Iguanodon bernissartensis_ neotype, the immense lower 
jaw of _Liopleurodon (=_Stretosaurus_) macromerus_ and casts of 
the Ashmolean's dodo - but also because they've now added loads of 
new dinosaur exhibits. Among these are a complete _Tyrannosaurus 
rex_ skeleton, the skull of 'Stan', an _Anatotitan_ skull, a mounted 
_Edmontosaurus_, an ornithomimid skeleton (labelled as 
_Struthiomimus sedens_), a lifesize _Utahraptor_ model and, to my 
utter astonishment, the skeleton of _Bambiraptor_ (which they have 
labelled as _Velociraptor feinbergi_). There are lifesize high-detail 
models of _Acanthostega_, _Compsognathus_ and _Archaeopteryx_ - 
I forget the name of the artist but his work is well known and much 
publicised (he is best known for his Palaeozoic fish). A new specimen 
of _Peloneustes_ is laid out in a case in the disarticulated pose in 
which it was found. I spent lots of time looking closely at 
_Eustreptospondylus_: you can't look that closely, because it's in a 
glass case and the skull has been restored, thus making it hard to see 
where the real bone stops and starts, but it *appears* as if there's a 
notch between the premaxilla and maxilla. Would have to handle the 
thing before being sure about that. In the collections we looked at an 
_Iguanodon_ collected from Sussex by David Cooper: judging from 
the femur it is probably the biggest _Iguanodon_ I've ever seen - am 
still trying to do the maths but the animal was probably around 15 m 
long. I'll work it out properly when the photos are developed.

The museum isn't full of the computerised interactive nonsense that 
most places now spend their money on: it is instead full of dead things, 
which is the way museums should be. There are innumerable mounted 
skeletons of mammals, stuffed birds, hundreds of pinned insects and 
loads of life-size models of fishes, reptiles and amphibians. If you are 
interested in zoology, palaeontology or the history of biological 
collections, it is an absolute must.

DARREN NAISH 
PALAEOBIOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP
School of Earth, Environmental & Physical Sciences
UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road                           email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
Portsmouth UK                          tel: 01703 446718
P01 3QL