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The Victorian Dinosaur Park that Survived National Ridicule

When science and history collide, which one do we preserve? It's true that the history of science is filled with inaccuracies, and those mistakes become part of history even when the science is wrong. That's the story of the dinosaurs of Crystal Palace Park in south London.

The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs were the first dinosaur sculptures in the world, unveiled in 1854, before the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. At at time when the theory of evolution was treated as a blasphemous joke, it was largely left to palaeontologists to fit dinosaur bones together like giant incomplete jigsaws. The rush to finish a specimen and name it before a rival did meant that there were many mistakes and inaccuracies. For example, when English palaeontologist Gideon Mantell discovered the Iguanadon, he placed the thumb spike of on the end of its nose, going unchallenged for many years until later skeletons revealed his mistake.

The park is a lasting remnant of the Crystal Palace of the 1851 Great Exhibition. It was ridiculed for its inaccuracies, and fell into disrepair and overgrowth until a 1952 restoration. Read about the scientifically inaccurate but historically significant dinosaurs of Crystal Palace Park at Messy Nessy Chic.

(Image credit: CGP Grey)

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