Why build a T Rex?
I am not sure what possessed me to make a model T Rex skeleton. If I remember correctly it was going to be a marketing thing, with the head of T Rex up outside our geological consulting office to attract the attention of passers-by. It wasn’t however going to be a full blown model. This idea then transformed into a smaller version which I had hoped to take to the local chamber of commerce meetings as our mascot, icebreaker and conversation piece. And so the idea evolved until I got going with the small model, building the head, spine, femurs and pelvis. I became fascinated by the bones and found myself buying chicken feet at the supermarket so that I could study the bone structure in detail. It is amazing how close the feet of a chicken resemble that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Not to mention that of a chicken’s drumstick. I also began to look at proportion and found that the 0.618 Golden Ratio was playing out in the skull of this amazing animal.
I downloaded dozens images off the internet to get an understanding of the bone morphology and how it all fitted together. A beef farmer friend brought a skeleton down from his farm in Lotheni and I reassembled bovine cervical vertebrae in the back yard to see how the joints articulated. It was all fascinating to say the least. I hoped that someone, somewhere, had carried out a CAT scan of a T Rex skull and posted the results up on some website which would allow me to get the profiles of T Rex’s head from which I could model my skull. But alas, nothing was to be found. So I became a sculptor, hacking, building, sawing and plastering, and eventually Marmaduke emerged from the hot fires of creation for presentation to the world. Making it all the more difficult was the fact that every image I downloaded had slightly different proportions due possibly to camera angle and lens length so I had to indulge in a bit of artistic licence. And then I found a Japanese skelmaker, Taburin, who is an absolute genius and perhaps the best in the world when it comes to sculpting old bones, and it was from his beautifully proportioned models that I found my salvation. Have a look at his amazing work here.
As you can well imagine, all of this has taken an immense amount of time and effort over the years and he is still not quite done. Certainly there have been trials and tribulations in both his and mine but together we have overcome our separate challenges although it has been touch and go at times. I have had to pull him back from the brink of extinction on a couple of occasions.
His head is currently sitting in our Hilton office and today I had kids pressing their noses up against the glass marvelling at him, which for me is a delight and makes it all worth while.
Other Dinosaur Detours
While Marmaduke was slowly being built I managed to get distracted by a couple of other dinosaur projects, one being the Dinodig. I modelled dinosaur skeleton in its death throes, with neck arched back and its tail extending in a long arc over its head to frame it in its last gasp. A silicone rubber mould of this was taken and you can now order your own Dinodig to excavate at home at your leisure.
Dig up your own dinosaur
Who doesn't want to be a palaeontologist digging up amazing fossils from a far off era? However most of us can't go on fossil hunting expeditions but there is nothing to stop you digging up your own dinosaur. And once those old bones are exposed she can be put on display for all to see. For more information click here.
Below I have included some photographs of Marmaduke's progress, including some of the orignal drawings and various components that went into his construction.