In 2010 a local fossil collector Kai Bailey discovered some Polacanthus bones. A section of the sacral shield, an ilium (hip bone) a sacral (hip) vertebra and some scutes (bone armour in the skin). Later he discovered a large spike and a large lump of bone. In 2013 he approached Dinosaur Expeditions C.I.C. and generously offered to loan us this Polacanthus material to go on display at the newly created Dinosaur Expeditions Centre. Needless to say I was ‘over-the-moon’ about having Polacanthus material in close accessible proximity and couldn’t get the loan form signed quick enough!
We placed the material in one of the largest display cabinets which formed a core part of our Isle of Wight Dinosaur bone exhibition. The cabinet was directly opposite our diorama of the Wealden floodplain; a representation of the environment in the Lower Cretaceous with a large painting produced for us by internationally renowned palaeoartist John Sibbick. The landscape was a work-in-progress with vegetation but no dinosaurs. Several suggestions had been made but as a start-up Community Interest Company we couldn’t afford to commission a model or purchase a fibreglass dinosaur.
We searched the internet and discovered Jolly Roger Limited, a UK based supplier of Fibreglass models. After browsing their website several possibilities presented themselves. None of them would be ideal representations of local dinosaurs without some modification. Given our experience in building a ‘Barn sized Sauropod skeleton’ this additional work shouldn’t present a barrier to getting the result we wanted.
Within a couple of months of operating we had saved enough to purchase a single dinosaur and have it shipped before the Summer Holidays began. After careful consideration the Directors decided that the Minmi model seemed to be the best option with a small crocodile added for good measure. The Minmi looked good in its original condition and would require less work to complete the transformation into a Polacanthus than turning a Utahraptor into an Eotyrannus!
A couple of weeks later we were in possession of a Minmi model which seemed almost made to measure when we mounted it on the Wealden floodplain diorama, just in time for the Summer Holidays.