Friday, April 23, 2010


My home town of Bristol in South West England doesn't boast of much, but we do have a dark and murky seafaring and pirating history; so it's quite fitting that Bristol is home to the 'Sea Dragons' exhibition housed in the central museum.

The Sea Dragons in question are ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, so as part of the build up to the ichthyosaur gallery I'd though I'd share a glimpse of the ichthyosaurs in this small but intriguing exhibition.

THE 3D ICHTHYOSAUR - Temndontosaurus - 'This specimen is unusual in keeping much of its original shape.' Its only about 2 metre long , a juvenile. Adults reach over 10 metres.

Look at those teeth!

PREGNANT ICHTHYOSAUR - 'This specimen below contains the earliest stage of growth of any baby ichthoysaur yet found.' See arrow in photo. AND the ichthyosaurs last meal ( dark patch in the stomach region).

EXCALIBOSAURUS - 'A few types of ichthyosaur had a lower jaw which was shorter than the upper. We do not know why.' (Not terribly useful information!)

GRENDELIUS -'A rare type of ichthyosaur found on the Dorset coast.'
This is a beast! There's a person in the photo for scale but doesn't really do justice to how large it actually looks. The length of my living room... ( My house is quite 'cosy' though)

As well as helping to determine what these creatures may have resembled in life the fossils themselves are beautifully sculptural in their own right.
The fossils are ready made masterpieces. All we as artists have to do is copy it, translate it, or use it as inspiration.

Whether your an artist, scientist or a creationist the sheer wonder of these creatures cannot be denied. The terrifying jaws of (often) incredible size make it easy to understand how, when first excavated, these fossils where thought to be the sea monsters of sailor's tales.

Maybe they are.

Photos by Alex Light.

Info in inverted commas taken from the museum boards.