Milton Keynes: where giant pterosaurs go to die

During the June and July of 2010 I and a host of friends and colleagues based at, or affiliated with, the University of Portsmouth attended the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. As you'll know if you saw the articles and pictures I posted here at Tet Zoo, our research group set up and displayed the extremely popular Dragons of the Air exhibition. Devoted to the study of pterosaurs, it had an indoor component but also featured several life-sized, walking and flying azhdarchids.

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Many people noted here and elsewhere that it would be neat, and appropriate, for these models to form part of a travelling exhibition. So, I just know that you want to ask... what has happened to the models since July 2010? The good news is that the exhibition did travel at least a bit, as it saw display in Rotterdam during the September of 2010. Andre Veldmeijer was the brains behind his venture: he was kind enough to share various images with Dave Hone, one of which you see here.

The two, big, walking azhdarchids then came back to the UK and went on display at the Royal Society's out of London international venue, Chicheley Hall in Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes. This is a stately home that now functions as a conference centre; it's surrounded by extensive gardens, and this is where we currently find our two giant azhdarchids. They're free to roam, to scare visitors, and (to paraphrase Dave Martill) "to glean a living from frogs and squirrels".

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Is this where our beloved azhdarchids will end their days? Pacing the grounds of a Georgian Grade I listed building, just outside downtown Milton Keynes? Probably not. Plans have been afoot to exhibit them at a new venue, though I'm not sure what the latest news is on that. I just wanted to use this post as an opportunity to use the new photos of the azhdarchids that Dave kindly supplied. It would be brilliant if the exhibition could travel again - to anyone interested, remember that transport costs are understandably high.

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One disappointing thing about the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is worth saying while I'm here: it concerns the appearance of our pterosaurs in the Atlantic Productions pterosaur documentary Flying Monsters 3D. Or, rather, the lack of appearance. Despite the putting aside of a whole day for filming, and several interviews between Dave Martill, Mark Witton and David Attenborough [Attenborough and Witton shown here], essentially none of the material made the final cut. Oh well, such are the perils of working with people in TV-land. As you'll know if you've read the lengthy review of Flying Monsters 3D at the pterosaur.net blog, at least some pterosaur workers are not exactly happy with the finished produced. I haven't seen it, but I've learnt not to hold high expectations for CG prehistoric animal TV shows.

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Anyway, thanks to Dave Martill for passing on the Chicheley Hall images you see here.

For previous Tet Zoo articles on azhdarchids and other pterosaurs, see...

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For a second, the headless picture made me think the foremost model had the head tucked under the wing, grooming.. now I want to see a bunch of these, in various states of repose..

Alternately, smaller garden-gnome sized ones, perfect for terrorising the fishpond.

By Marcus Good (not verified) on 21 May 2011 #permalink

I once had to write a story about the circumstance in which I would discover my, "soul mate" (not that I actually believe in such a thing). In the story, we met at this Pterosaur exhibition.

By Patrick Murphy (not verified) on 21 May 2011 #permalink

is that the real picture from the TV show ad? They had to put a Tyrannosaur (or whatever that is) head on a pterosaur?

Even by their own logic of making it more appealing to the public, that's a big FAIL.

What's next? Pterosaurs lumbering about on land battling it out with Triceraotops?

Remind me not to watch this...no worries, you won't have to...seeing that stupid-ass poster will be plenty reminder.

so ...
these giant pterosaurs in Milton Keynes ... did they raptor anyone?

yogi-one: That tyrannosaur head on a pterosaur body is supposed to be a dimorphodon, which was a real pterosaur species. However accurate it may or may not be, dimorphodon was a real pterosaur and not something made up just to look cool as you appear to be implying.

(if I misread you I apologize)

If I win the lottery, I am so going to get a house with a huge atrium and either buy those ones or commission a pair of them for it.

By Mike from Ottawa (not verified) on 21 May 2011 #permalink

Amazing. Sometimes I wish I lived in Britain. I suppose that they won't be coming to America anytime soon? Are the other pterosaurs located their? Anyway, I didn't see Flying Monsters, but from what I heard, it was awful. Why can't there be one good documentary about prehistoric animals

Hmmm . . . in the first picture they looked like they'd been cast in bronze. Now that would be pretty brill . . . then place them outside a museum (I vote Manchester) as per the brachiosaur bronze outside the Field Museum in Chicago.

Yeah, but DMA - then you'd have to go to Milton Keynes...the horror, the horror...

Bill, what's wrong with Milton Keynes. It doesn't sound so bad

@DMA - it's a 'new town' - built in the mide 1960s (roughly) and it suffers from all the mad, 'bright' ideas that were current then about how to design the perfect town. It is large and sprawling, has no proper centre but instead a rather soulless mall and unentertaining entertainment 'strip'. It's all on a grid which means, paradoxically, that it is very easy to get lost as it all looks the frikn same. I now realise that it is very like many American mid-sized towns but without even the charm that they have but isntead a grimy unfinished feel. Sorry if I am insulting any Milton Keynes lovers. It DOES have a good cyclepath system. Anyway - back to the pterosaurs - THEY'LL improve the place no end

I saw the exhibiton when it was over in Rotterdam, and it was great. Those things are huuuuuge, gives you some proper perspective.

By Kilian Hekhuis (not verified) on 23 May 2011 #permalink

Too bad in Latin America these pictures are the closest we'll ever get to seeing this awesome exhibit. If I ever travel to Britain, the museums will certainly be at the top of my list (as they always are wherever I go). In the meantime, I guess I'll just pay another visit to the single giant sloth femur and the six seashell fossils that make up the paleontology section in our Nature Sciences Museum...*sigh*

Are these the same pterosaurs that now reside outside burnaby building at porstmouth uni?