Wednesday 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Heavens, is that the date already? Yes, it's time to bid farewell to 2014 and wish all browsers in the pastures of Nigeness a very happy new year. A shame we can't get together and dine inside an Iguanodon mould like the jolly fellows in the picture. They were guests at a New Year's Eve banquet held at the Crystal Palace in 1853, where the great life-size dinosaurs were being built for the surrounding park by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, with cutting-edge scientific advice from Sir Richard Owen.
 The trouble with dinosaurs is that our knowledge of them even now is patchy and liable to be transformed by stray finds - and it was even patchier back in the 1850s. The result was that the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, built to embody the latest scientific knowledge, soon proved themselves risibly inaccurate. Gradually, along with the park itself, they fell into neglect and disrepair. However, wholesale restoration of dinosaurs and habitat - mostly on three islands in the lake - began in the 1950s, and the models continue to delight visitors. More quaint than terrifying, they are, among other things, a monumental reminder of the folly of taking current scientific knowledge as the Last Word. There - a thought to take into the New Year. May it smile on you.

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