(P.95) Our own Jurassic Park is back

by Sarah Warden, The Newshopper 9 January 2002

SOME of Crystal Palace's oldest residents were unveiled before an audience of scientific experts following a £3.6m facelift. Historic Crystal Palace Park, the world's first dinosaur and prehistoric animal park, opened in 1854. Last week it was the focus of a conference at Greenwich University, where experts met to discuss the regeneration project, and to explore the scientific significance of the statues.

During the last year, palaeontologists, landscape gardeners and palaeobotanists have painstakingly repaired the stone structures ending almost a century of neglect.

Nichola Smith with the two dicynodons

Prehistoric trees and ferns have also been planted around the park to provide a realistic backdrop.

Professor Peter Doyle, principal scientific advisor for the project, said:

"The park contains the first accurate reconstructions of the three dinosaur species known to the scientific world by the 1850s. It caused controversy when it opened before the theory of evolution was widely accepted."

Local groups have also welcomed the restoration. Ward member and Crystal Palace Partnership chairman Councillor Chris Gaster said: "The Dinosaurs are absolutely unique. People come to see them from all over."

The park will be open to the public before June, and the Queen has been invited to perform an official opening ceremony this summer.

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Last updated 21/01/02