Sunday, September 05, 2010


Yesterday for a laugh we went to the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to catch their T-Rex exhibition, something we've been meaning to do for weeks. We only just made it, because today is the very last day. They weren't quite stacking chairs and sweeping the floor, but it was a close run thing.

And heaps of fun. It cost £5 each to get in (most of the exhibitions are free) but there was a lot to see including several life-size animatronic models of dinosaurs - three T-Rex, an Ankylosaurus and a very dead Triceratops. Unlike most dinosaur exhibitions, which simply concentrate on the history, this one was asking a very specific question: was T-Rex a predator or a scavenger? There were a whole series of displays pointing out the differences between the two forms, both in dinosaur times and in the modern animal kingdom. Differences that included predators being fast and agile, and having strong front legs/claws to hold onto prey - none of which apply to the lumbering T-Rex with its silly little front limbs.

By the end of the exhibition we'd come to the conclusion these huge beasts were probably scavengers, and even posted our vote in the voting booth at the end. But talking about it over lunch we realised that the whole exhibition had been subtly leading us to that conclusion ('Are you sure T-rex was a predator? Are you still sure?') and that reality might well have been fuzzier. No matter, it was a fun morning out.

We also popped our heads into a different gallery to see part of the famous Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard, discovered a couple of years ago, which apparently puts even the Sutton Hoo treasure into the shade. I have yet to be convinced about that (having seen some of the Sutton Hoo artefacts in the British Museum - they are utterly stunning), but the Staffs Hoard is certainly vast, and fascinating. Almost all the pieces are military, with none of the drinking vessels and jewellery you'd expect from, say, a massive royal grave, and yet they're exquisitely made with microscopic gold filigree and finely cut garnet inlay. Which begs the obvious question - what on earth was this hoard, and why were the individual pieces scrunched up before it was buried? I expect the arguments will rage for years.

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