A Conversation for Dinosaurs of The Isle of Wight - Live From Dinosaur Island

Binocular vison in Dinosaurs

Post 1


Hello, I stumbled across this article about 'Live from Dinosaur Island'. I was involved with this programme as the 'in house' sculptor and it was my job to attempt to put flesh back on to the bones of the prehistoric animals on the Isle of Wight. The writer of this article seems to poo poo my attempts to give Neovenator binocular vision, suggesting instead that dinosaurs of this type show no signs of such visual acuity. At the time of the programme I was told that Neoventor was a apex preditor, my background in zoology stood me in enough sted to know that modern apex preditors always share something in common....binocular vision, even a crocodile has some binocular vision with which to view its prey and judge the required lunge distance to reach its prey. With this knowledge I set about giving my Neovenator sculpture slightly forward facing eyes (in line with that of a Gannet or Cormorant). It's true that Simon King concurred with my decision to make the required adjustment to the skull shape which, I have to say was minimal. The nature of fossilised bone material means that it is often distorted in any case and rarely representative of the bone shape of the living animal so adjustments to the skull shape in this case where made by me in order to fit in with the animals lifestyle as explained to me by the paleontologists. Since I made this sculpture and opened this can of particular worms some interesting research has been published. Here's an extract from one such thesis and link to the whole of the work.

Best wishes

Nigel George

Eccleston George

The binocular fields of view of seven theropod dinosaurs are mapped using sculpted life reconstructions of their heads and techniques adopted from ophthalmic field perimetry. The tall, narrow snout and laterally facing eyes of the allosauroids Allosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus restricted binocular vision to a region only approximately 20° wide, compar- able to that of modern crocodiles. In contrast, the coelurosaurs Daspletosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Nanotyrannus, Velociraptor, and Troodon had cranial designs that afforded binocular fields between 45-60° in width, similar to those of modern raptorial birds. Binocular field width and predatory style (ambush versus pursuit) is examined for extant taxa, along with a discussion of cranial adaptations that enhance binocular vision. The progressive increase in frontal vision in the tyrannosaurids culminates in broader binocular overlap than that of a modern hawk. The visual acuity and the limiting far point for stereopsis is estimated for Tyrannosaurus based on reptilian and avian models.


Binocular vison in Dinosaurs

Post 2



I apologise if I inadvertantly caused offence - I did say "the sculpture looked impressive", which I would not have said had I disliked the sculpture. I am, however, very pleased to be reassured that the sculpture was made with consultation of paleontologists, something which sadly was not made clear when the sculpture was shown in the programme.

What I was principally objecting to was Simon King, who was presented as being rather blasse about dinosaurs, not being interested in what he was doing and only really wanting to tell everyone about his experience with lions. For instance, with little knowledge on the subject, he began an argument with scientist Steve Hutt about how dinosaurs hunted. This may well be unfair, and a result of unsympathetic editing etc. on the programme makers' part. I felt that there were more presenters on the show than were needed, and they should have had fewer presenters with greater knowledge on the subject.

Something obviously did not go right with 'Live From Dinosaur Island' as they never repeated the exercise.


Binocular vison in Dinosaurs

Post 3


Hello again,

I think I'd agree that there were too many presenters although in the makers defence I'm sure the idea was to have different personaliities representing different dig sites simultaniously.

I think the real problem with the show, and certainly the reason that it's never been aired again or picked up for a second series, was that not very much fossilised material was found over the week it was aired and as a result the whole show fell a bit flat. This was just down to bad luck as when the makers came to the Island some months earlier to check out the the digs sites all kinds of fantastic fossilised material was practiclaly falling out of the cliffs and landing at their feet! However when they returned for the live show it was a very different story indeed....consequently I think much filling was required to pack the show out. I suspect my roll in the show was as a bit of a space filler too, had anything really juicy been found I'm sure my 15 mins of relative fame would have been left out....but thanks for your complimentary comments about my work....I should have said that in my first responce, sorry about that.

I have to say that for me the show was an interesting experience, initially I had declined the BBC's request for my involvment as I was busy working on a large scale project (nothing to do with dinosaurs) elswhere on the Isle of Wight. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecclestongeorge/sets/72157606883729184/ They were quite insistant that I join them so eventually I gave in and joined the show! What suprised me was the scale of the opperation that goes in to producing a show like this, something akin to a small town's worth of people and vehicles decended on the tiny farm in Brighstone that became the HQ for the show. Based on their recce visit the makers where full of excitment and expectation for the show....sadly the Islands fickle clays had other ideas and everyone involved was left disappointed by the lack of finds. On any other week things might have turned out very differently, had that have been the case we might now be about to sit down to watch the tenth series of 'Live from Dinosaur Island'!

Binocular vison in Dinosaurs

Post 4


Perhaps I was a little harsh in the review. Looking back now I was really, really excited when I heard that they would be making 'Live From Dinosaur Island', and then when it was broadcast I was very disappointed by it as it wasn't as good as I had hoped. Which I think is the same is true for those involved as you yourself said. Good idea, but one that had bad luck.

You did the sculpting for Amazon World? I'm impressed! The last time I went there was shortly before they lost a penguin (did they ever find it?) and the sculptures definitely add to the atmosphere and make it seem much more than a giant greenhouse.


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