dinosaur farm

Polacanthus Reconstruction: Part 11 ‘Caudal Spines’


Previously I wrote about sculpting a pair of the enigmatic ‘Splate’ spines. Something I will be returning to later. With a pair of Polacanthine Splates finished, the next job was to sculpt all the spines of the tail.

Based on a couple of different interpretations I needed to sculpt between 22-24 Caudal Spines, now that’s a lot of spines! Fortunately they get smaller towards the end the tail.


Unlike the ‘Splate’ I do have a cast of an (early to middle) tail spine to refer too. So I measured the spine and drew it at just over half scale to make a template.


With the outline marked on the extruded polystyrene I cut the shape out and started to carve the spine.


Once the first spine was finished I carved the other spine of the pair.


With the first pair of Caudal Spines finished I repeated the process by sculpting the second pair of spines (using the first pair as an example).


At the end of the day I took a group shot of all the pairs of spines (Cervical - Pectoral, to Caudal) sculpted to date.

Next time I will complete the process of sculpting the remaining Caudal Spines.


A crazy fortnight at the Dinosaur Farm!

A crazy fortnight at the Dinosaur Farm!

We have had late nights, and even earlier starts. 
Turned cabinets around and dug over old ground.

Old friends have returned and we have made new ones too.
A Euro cent passed off and paper vanished from the loo.

We have had a bird in the barn and a duck through a roof.
A pterosaur limb and a pterosaur tooth.

We have mounted heads on a wall, stood over ten feet tall.
We have had record-breaking trips and generous tips,


Old foot-casts were buried and new ones found.
Ceilings went up and ceilings came down.

VIP guests came with stories to tell
and travelling salesman with books to sell.

A purse lost, then found and a picture drawn by a kid.
A huge dinosaur claw won by a last minute bid.

A barn emptied, a barn filled and then emptied again.
Tired feet, a split thumb and Miss Hernia pain.


A Mad Max Digger, new fences for old.
Glorious sunshine and bitterly cold.

We have had serious meetings and heated discussions.
Made plans for events and entertained factions.

Identified mystery bones and bags of kids stones.
Built impossible storerooms and confiscated brooms.


A big tooth, a little tooth, new artwork, new labels.
And we still haven’t finished the fossil preparation tables!


Next time there will be more updates on the Polacanthus sculpt and I promise not to inflict my terrible prose on you ever again.

Dinosaur Expeditions Open Day

Clifford Wrigley from ‘Wrigley Maintainance’ [email:  wrigleymaintenance2014@gmail.com] is helping us to get all the big jobs done before our Free Open Day on Saturday 28th March.

The Eotyrannus Head display was produced by local artist Nigel George for the Dinosaur Farm Museum in the late 1990s.

Come along to the Dinosaur Farm on Saturday 28th March, enjoy free admission and see the latest fossil discoveries. Talk to our volunteers about the exciting work we do, see live demonstrations of fossil conservation and the creation of original paleoart.

Visit our website for more information:


Polacanthus Reconstruction: Part 9 ‘Tall Spines’

With the first pair of Caudal (Tail) Spines sculpted I decided to sculpt a pair of spines based on a plaster cast of an unusually tall spine. 

In preparing for the reconstruction of the Polacanthus model I had made some simple line drawings of the spines I had to hand. It was a simple task to produce a just over half scale line drawing as a template. (Note the missing tip was added to the line drawing).

To check the accuracy of the template I placed it on the cast to check the curvature of the spine. So far so good, now I could mark the foam with the outline of the template.

Once the outline was marked on to the foam I carefully cut around the outline and proceeded to carve the first spine. As soon as I had finished the basic shape I compared it with the plaster cast to check the accuracy.

Now it was a case of sculpting the opposite spine of the pair.

(Note the groove on the rear and underside of the spine will be added later on but before the spine is finally mounted, when its final position has been decided).

Happy with the final result, I decided to take a photo of the spines so far!

With the first five pairs completed the next spine to be sculpted will be the spiked shield-like spine known as a ‘Splate’.

Polacanthus Reconstruction: Part 7 ‘Dorsal Spines’

I visited Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown on the Isle of Wight and whilst I was there I saw one of the Dorling Kindersley dinosaur models in the lab.


The Gastonia model has an original arrangement of spines.


The tall lateral (side) spines near the shoulders are quite striking compared with other reconstructions.


The model demonstrates the side row of spines from neck to the tip of the tail that formed Gastonia’s primary defense against predators.


The tail of Gastonia would have been a formidable weapon against medium to large theropods. Similar in effect to an Aztec Macuahuitl, the keratin covered tail spines would have probably caused significant lacerations to the lower body of any dinosaur unfortunate enough to be in the way of the swinging tail.

Suitable inspired, I returned to the Dinosaur Expeditions Centre at the Dinosaur Farm and decided to focus on producing a pair of dorsal (top) spines, notable for having a solid base.


I marked out the template on the foam with the keratin thickness outline added and started carving the shape out.


Once the first spine was finished I temporarily mounted it on the Minmi model to check how it looked.


I still need to blend the spine to match the body but the overall effect is imposing. So I repeated the process to make the opposite spine.


Next time I will sculpt a pair of Polacanthus spines based on a rare fossil.