Giant prehistoric creatures descend on London

21 June 2010

Five pterosaurs - giant predatory flying reptiles from the age of the dinosaurs – have been created for See Further: The Festival of Science + Arts as part of the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary celebrations.  The prehistoric creatures have descended upon London’s Southbank Centre, where they will be on show to the public until Sunday 4 July.

Visitors will not only be able to see the life size models of the pterosaurs, they’ll be able to acquaint themselves with real ones too as they touch the fossilised bones of the huge predators.

The models, built by the University of Portsmouth, are of the Texan pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus - the largest animal ever to fly. There are over 100 different species of pterosaurs, ranging in size from a sparrow to a Spitfire airplane. 

Pterosaurs ruled the skies for nearly 150 million years, from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous (220 to 65.5 million years ago).  The researchers are studying pterosaurs to better understand how their skeletons withstood the stress and strain of flying.

Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, said: “There are some areas of science that seem almost universally fascinating: prehistoric beasts and how they lived is definitely one of them. We hope that all who visit the Royal Society and Southbank Centre's 'See Further Festival', young and old, will enjoy this fusion of science and arts, and find their interest in science reinvigorated."

Today’s unveiling of the giant beasts heralds the start of See Further: The Festival of Science and Arts  on 25 June, which will bring visitors face-to-face with the UK’s finest science and the leading scientists and engineers behind it, as well as filling every corner of Southbank Centre with science-related arts events. The festival will run until 4 July and will include music inspired by scientific discovery (including three of Southbank Centre’s Resident Orchestras), theatre, comedy, discussion, film, literature and art.

The BBC followed the team of researchers as they built the giant pterosaur models. Click on the link to watch:

How to build a giant winged reptile  
How to build a giant winged monster: Part two