Friday, January 3, 2014

Stegodimetrodon

It's not a centerpiece of the city's public art, but one park in Bloomington, Indiana does boast a "dinosaur" sculpture of its very own. Traveling out of your way to see it may not be advisable, but's certainly worth a look if you're in the area. It may be your only chance to see a Dimetrodon with a thagomizer.

Bryan Park Dimetrodon

Bryan Park Dimetrodon

The parks department has helpfully erected an informational plaque next to the bench, identifying the carver as William Galloway, who created the piece in 1989, when it won the Hoosierfest Limestone Bench Carving Contest. I was happy to see that the bench's weirdness is acknowledged, though it's not fully explained:
Originally, the sculpture was meant to be carved in the shape of a Stegosaurus, but since Stegosaurus don't have sail-backs, the artist chose Dimetrodon so people would have a place to lean their backs. Not wanting to give up the large loop on the bench, a Stegosaurus tail was added, making this bench a hybrid dinosaur of sorts.
I'd guess that the design changed before carving ever began, with the spiky tail the only part of the original sketches to be retained. Call it artistic license. The plaque does explain that Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur, which is great, but it's a bit muddled on evolutionary history, noting that "dinosaurs eventually evolved into modern day reptiles and birds" and that Dimetrodon is "actually an early ancestor of modern day mammals." A few points for effort, I suppose.

Update 1/6/13: Meant to include that this is, as indiated in comment by Mark Robinson, in Bloomington's Bryan Park. It's a real nice park.

5 comments:

  1. Hmm, that Dimetrodon resembles Charles Knight's Naosaurus: http://static2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111117135210/dinosaurs/images/c/cf/Knights_naosaurus.jpg

    Does that mean that it is part Stegosaurus, part Dimetrodon and part Edaphosaurus?

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  2. So that's what the sail was for! I would have thought that the issue with Stego as a bench was not the lack of a suitable back-rest (plates, duh) but that people would need to be careful that they didn't fall off its hips or slide down towards the neck.

    David, I also think that you've possibly marked Bloomington Parks & Recreation a little harshly on their information. I suspect that most municipal departments would've called Dimetrodon a dinosaur and left it at that. Yet we are also told that dinosaurs evolved into birds (ok, they left out the bit about big ones repeatedly going extinct) and, much to my amazement, seem to have a handle on the sauropsids v synapsids lineages.

    I wouldn't give that many points if this was in the grounds of a museum of natural history but for a bench in Bryan Park, I reckon it's an 8 out of 10.

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    1. I think I agree with Mark on this. I'm not sure that London's NHM has quite revised its signage to match even this. I call it pretty remarkable.

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  3. It's fun, like one of those monsters on old maps, or the dragons in the walls of Ancient Babylon.

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    1. Yeah, I totally agree. That's a really nice observation.

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