Saturday, 15 August 2009

Pterodactyls Alive in 1985

In 1985 the BBC broadcasted an edition of the popular series "Wildlife on One" entitled Pterodactyls Alive. The centrepiece for this program was a dynamic model of Dimorphodon macronyx, nicknamed Didi.
The model was made by Arril Johnson and was commissioned by Aardman Animations in July 1984 as an animation model for the series. The model was made after consulting the leading experts of the day. Kevin Padian, curator of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California at Berkeley and Hugh Aldridge a bat flight researcher at Bristol University who both contributed ideas to the modelling process.
This interesting model now resides in a display at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery on Queens Road, Bristol, UK. It is worth a visit if you are in that part of the world.
These two photographs are mood shots taken by Arril Johnson before the model was handed over to Aardman for the filming of the program content. Both pictures are copyright of Arril Johnson and used with permission. The images are to be included in a rewrite of the Bristol City Museum page on the Pterosaur Database website in the near future.
It is work like this that stimulates discussion in pterosaur research. Kevin Padian proposed ideas about the morphology and locomotion of Dimorphodon which were a little slow to be accepted in some areas. Modelling like this helps to demonstrate the practicality of such suggestions and put these kinds of ideas into context.

Aldridge, H; 1986. Manoeuvrability and ecological segregation in the little brown (Myotis lucifugus) and Yuma (M. yumanensis) bats (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology 64:18781882.

Johnson A; 1986, Didi a model with a difference, The Geological Curator Vol 4 ,No 5 page 289-290, September 1985.

Padian K; 1983, Osteology and Functional Morphology of Dimorphodon macronyx (Buckland) (Pterosauria: Rhamphorhynchoidea) based on new material in the Yale Peabody Museum, Postilla (Peabody Museum of Natural History), No.189, 1-44.

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