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Dino Birds UK

Today was the opening evening of the Dino Birds exhibition here in
London.  Yes, a majority of the most impressive specimens from the
Liaoning province, including two Sinosauropteryx, Two Caudipteryx,
Protarchaeopteryx, several Confuciusornis and other birds marred with
'Dave' in person (both slabs and the positive star of the show... we met
again at last!) make for the most impressive fossil exhibition this
country has EVER seen. If that wasn't enough, the >original< BMNH
Archaeopteryx (slab and counter slab) is on display too.
The exhibition is well presented in general , unambiguous concerning the
dinosaur-bird link and is well documented (some lighting problems and
some captions and labels are either missing or mistaken) but the fact
that anyone can scrutinize the original Caudipteryx specimen at will bit
by bit through an enhanced video screen is an enormous advantage. The
children were thrilled.
I was also impressed by the amazing second Caudipteryx specimen.. the
feathers are faint but the preservation of the skeleton is spectacular
to say the least. Three dimensional... quite a difference from the
'road  kill' Protarchaeopteryx.
The difference of the  two Sinosauropteryx specimens (the second is
twice the size of the holotype... but that is not all) makes for
intriguing food for thought... I'm sure specially for Nick Longrich.
It was a very special, emotional moment for me to be near (for the first
time) to the little  holotype Sinosauropteryx specimen. It seems to have
the feathery 'halo' recently (don't know if accidentally)  stained with
some sort of pigment. At least it seems so compared with earlier
photographs. Unfortunately the captions don't mention of the paired eggs
and oviducts present .
Angela Milner managed to joke about the 'forged' feathery tip of the
tail of the big Sinosauropteryx... but we were not going to make a big
fuss about it, definitively!
Beipiaosaurus, Sinornithosaurus and Microraptor are absent.

I was amazed by some of the comments that I overheard during the  three
solid hours I spent around the specimens: Most people here still  cannot
grasp the notion of those weird dinosaurs with feathers! They are seeing
as oddities and the explanations and texts in the exhibit are
conservative and don't go beyond the factual evidence... the possibility
that virtually all or most small theropods were feathered in some way is
not recognized (in fact feathery Sinosauropteryx is presented as a
relative of the 'featherless' Compsognathus). But a start is a start.
This exhibition will open quite a few minds I hope.

If we add that the most impressive Ken Dial's
chicks-running(flying)-upwards video (complemented with "Dave"'s
animated self) is also continually shown as part of the exhibit... the
joy is complete!

I must thank Sandra Chapman for the kind invitation to this historical
opening. I'm forever grateful.

A good effort and a must to visit (The museum now is free but not the
exhibition... £5 entrance).

Luis Rey

Visit my website on http://www.ndirect.co.uk/~luisrey