This week has seen the long awaited arrival on British shores of the animatronic stars of the “Walking with Dinosaurs” show , the live event inspired (and co-produced) by the BBC as a follow up to its immensely successful TV series of the same name. Having received critical acclaim in both Australia and the US (seen by 2.4 million people since 2007, it has grossed over $110 million /£77 million in ticket sales) the new show promises an even more impressive experience.
From a business perspective of course, the BBC’s globally recognized and respected brand allied with the enduring appeal of dinosaurs plus the proven success of the TV show might seem to have been obvious ingredients for a hit arena show. But it is worth remembering how ground-breaking this unique production is and how, as the Guardian points out, “The real heroes of the 96-minute show are, arguably, the engineers, skin makers, painters and animatronic experts who created the dinosaurs”.
As if to herald the arrival of the show, Palaeontologists have announced two fascinating discoveries this week, each revealing just that little bit more about prehistoric worlds:
1. Fossil hints at “Fuzzy” Dinosaurs. Remains of a dinosaur found in China bearing rudimentary feather-like structures have shed further light (and perhaps muddied the waters) on the evolution of feathers (see below). The discovery hints at both warm-bloodedness and a world of vibrant coloured dinosaurs.
2. The remains of a massive sea reptile (top), a species of short necked pliosaur, were found on a remote artic island. Estimated to have weighed 45 tonnes and boasting a massive head packed with foot long teeth this super-predator roamed the oceans some 147 million year ago.
How long before those animatronic experts are working on a feathered T-Rex?
Images: bottom, copyright Nature and top Artist’s impression of a 45-tonne Pliosaur attacking a Plesiosaur. Photograph: Atlantic Productions