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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
Island celebrates its dinosaur past
Iguanodon BBC
Iguanodon fossils have been found on the Isle of Wight
The first purpose-built dinosaur museum in the UK opens its doors to the public this week.

Called Dinosaur Isle, the new museum celebrates the rich fossil-hunting grounds of the Isle of Wight.

The island's remarkable geology means paleontologists can excavate sediments - spanning many millions of years and teeming with dinosaur bones - in just one, relatively small location.

Now, many of the local finds will have a permanent display. Visitors will also get the chance to see scientists at work as new discoveries are made.

Properly displayed

Dinosaur Isle museum is based at Sandown. It has cost 2.7m, receiving a lottery grant from the Millennium Commission.

It is intended to be an imaginative window on the growing number of exciting dinosaur and other geological finds made on the Isle of Wight.

Museums officer, Mike Bishop, said, "After so many years of waiting, we are finally achieving something that will enable so much of our collection to be properly displayed in a dramatic way instead of languishing in cupboards.

"There will be something of interest to everybody here, from rocks, to fossilised shells and dinosaur bones to a man-made giant robotic dinosaur."

Full-scale models

The building itself is a dramatic sight. It is shaped like a giant Pterosaur, a huge bat-like creature that dominated the skies of the Cretaceous.

About 1,000 of the best specimens from the present collection at Sandown's geological museum will be used in Dinosaur Isle, together with full-scale models.

One highlight is a 10-metre-long replica of an Iguanodon, which was found in the south-west of the island.

A model has also been produced of an eight-metre-long Neovanator salerii, a ferocious, flesh-eating dinosaur that was totally new to science when its fossil bones were discovered on the island by holidaymakers.

See also:

07 Jul 98 | Sci/Tech
New dinosaur discovered in England
02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Nose job for dinosaurs
02 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Dino skull fills knowledge gap
27 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Pit yields dinosaur remains
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