The head model is a little derptastic (they were probably better off displaying it separately, as they used to), and there's something off about that right forelimb (that one's for the nitpickers), but you can't go far wrong with a T. rex mount. The animal's just too awesome.
Directly in front of Staniel stands an Iguanodon bernissartensis cast in a classic Dollo-style 'kangaroo' pose. Much to the museum's credit, a nearby sign points out how this posture would be quite impossible for the living animal, even including a diagram with a dirty great arrow indicating where the tail has been broken.
Surrounding this enormous pair are the assorted remains, safely ensconced within glass cabinets, of British dinosaurs and others of particular historic interest. It's here you'll find Cetiosaurus, Eustreptospondylus and Megalosaurus, alongside the British "Camptosaurus" (Cumnoria) and more Iguanodon. It's a fascinating glimpse into the earliest days of palaeontology, and a wonderful opportunity to look at animals that are seldom seen in museums.
The Eustreptospondylus mount (a juvenile specimen) is accompanied by a model head, apparently fished out of the bins when Walking With Dinosaurs was completed.
The Cetiosaurus remains from Chipping Norton are helpfully labelled...
...While Megalosaurus jaw bits are assembled according to their positions in a (slightly speculative) restored skull. Just visible here is a reproduction of a restoration from 1854 (which the signage drily describes as a "slightly overweight quadruped"), which shows just how little they had to go on back then.
Cumnoria is yet another dinosaur with a tangled taxonomic history. In the museum it's labelled as "Camptosaurus" prestwichii, and (predictably) it was dumped into Iguanodon before that. The animal's lumping into Camptosaurus was accepted for decades, but recent studies have supported its generic separation.
Just around the way, there's a wonderful array of mounted skeletons and skulls from various Late Cretaceous North American dinosaurs, including Edmontosaurus, Triceratops, Pachycephalosaurus, a truly superb Struthiomimus, and Tyrannosaurus....er, again. Thanks to the lack of protective glass (for all but the T. rex skull cast), it's possible to poke one's camera lens into all sorts of improbable places (ooh er). If you enjoy inspecting every last minute little nodule on Pachycephalosaurus' preposterously adorned cranium, then you're in for a treat.
There's also this little fellow...why, it's Bambiraptor feinbergi! Or at least, that's how most of us know him - of course, the person who writes the signs at the OUMNH has taken it upon themselves to sink it into Velociraptor (nice 1990s-style illustration too). I believe it's known as 'doing a Paul'. It's a very minor nitpick, of course, but worth bringing up 'cos it's amusing, and also because I'm not aware of anyone else having proposed this lumping (but feel free to enlighten me if you have [And right away, someone did - see Alberta Claw's comment]).
Speaking of, er, maniraptors, Archaeopteryx gets the life restoration treatment too, and just for a change the model's actually very good, rather than being a hideous lizardy freak with miniature hands. There's also an excellent cast, of course. Compsognathus gets a similar deal, and the model's very lovely, although advances in palaeontology have dated it a little more. Nevertheless, it remains admirable for its high level of craftsmanship and stunning, intricate attention to detail.
On the other hand, it's pretty safe to say that Utahraptor didn't look like this. At all. Of course, this isn't entirely the model makers' fault - rumours abound that new(ish) material, yet to be published, indicates that this animal was a lot weirder than previously thought. Actually, I'd be very interested to learn where this model came from - it looks like it might be another Walking With Dinosaurs artefact (the 'raptors' in said show were also buck-ass nude), but the strangely allosaur-esque head and colour scheme don't seem like a good match. Any ideas?
I'd like to round things off - for the time being - on a pleasant note, so just take a good gander at this lovingly sculpted Iguanodon head (below and, if you squint a bit, above). It's a seriously impressive work of art and no mistake - the subtly rendered skin folds and bony nature of the face remind me a great deal of modern ungulates like horses and giraffes. Er, except for the beak. Entirely too rarely for palaeosculpture (if I may call it that), this has the appearance of a living animal rather than a monster or an inert, clinical restoration. Just excellent.
That'll be all for now, but there's far too much great stuff in the OUMNH to contain in a solitary post, no matter how photo-laden. We will return!