The Crystal Palace dinosaurs exhibit was formally opened on this day in 1854.  The famous geological park located in south London, represents the world’s first prehistoric animal theme park. Today, we celebrate this remarkable Victorian era attraction.  Although frequently referred to as “Dinosaurs”, only four of the statues represent members of the Dinosauria.  Other statues represent, pterosaurs, marine reptiles, turtles as well as prehistoric mammals.

Iguanodons at Crystal Palace.

A pair of Iguanodons study the Crystal Palace landscape. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above) shows the pair of Iguanodons on display at Crystal Palace.  Over the last two decades or so, these beautiful and scientifically important figures have been the subject of extensive conservation efforts.  In 2007, the statues were assigned Grade I listed monument status.  This is the most important rating for a monument under Historic England’s National Heritage List.  This status is reserved for sites of international significance.

To read about the Grade I listed monument protection: World’s First Dinosaur Statues Get Grade I Listed Status.

The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

There are around thirty palaeontological statues, along with five displays explaining geology. Most of the statues remain in their original positions. The statues were created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins with the technical assistance of the famous anatomist Richard Owen. Joseph Paxton designed the landscape.  Fund raising efforts from the “Friends of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs” continue today.

Everything Dinosaur expects that a major grant from the National Lottery will be allocated to the site, to permit the restoration work to continue.  This grant is expected to be announced later this year.

Crystal Palace dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

Prehistoric animal figures at Crystal Palace, the world’s first “Jurassic Park”.  The park is commemorating the 170th anniversary of its opening.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Prehistoric Animal Models

Construction work continued at the park until 1855.  To help raise funds for the work, some prehistoric animal models were commissioned. These items were priced at £30 and were designed to be “educational”.  However, we now know that the dinosaur reconstructions were highly inaccurate.  Notwithstanding this, today we celebrate the 170th anniversary of the official opening of the world’s first prehistoric animal theme park.

Happy birthday Crystal Palace dinosaurs.

The award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Prehistoric Animal Models and Dinosaur Toys.