Creating dinosaursPhotos

Creating dinosaurs | Photos Peter Norton, of Gondwana Studios.

A Dimetrodon skeleton replica, in the Permian Monsters exhibition.

Inside the workshop of Gondwana studios.

Peter Norton, of Gondwana Studios.

Inside the workshop of Gondwana studios.

Models of a Gorgonopsid and a Scutosaurus from Gondwana Studios.

The resilient shovel lizard, or Lystrosaurus, was one of few animals to survive the Permian period’s extinction.

Peter Norton, of Gondwana Studios.

TweetFacebookPermian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurshas been on display at the Inveresk site since July 2016.

Norton has just found out that it was the museum’s most popular touring exhibition from the past 10 years.

It attracted more than 56,000 visitors.

On Monday, the fossilised skeletons, animatronic dinosaurs, and life-size models will be packed away, ready to be shipped to New Zealand, where they will go on exhibition for two years.

Through his business, Gondwana Studios, Norton has taken the exhibition all over the world.

The studio specialises in creating and casting accurate skeletons, and life-sized models, of dinosaurs, megafauna, and more.

It’s been running since 1998, and today, sees Norton taking a more holistic approach, and curating entire exhibitions himself –rather than just individual parts.

“To me [curating a whole exhibition] is more challenging,” Norton said.

“It can be a bit stressful at times, especially with deadlines. But I probably enjoy it more.”

The Permian exhibition, which Norton created right down to the scientific research, follows the animals and reptilesthat roamed the planet before dinosaurs.

It preceded the Triassic period, and ended with up to 90 per cent of life being wiped out.

It’s recognised as Earth’s biggest extinction event, and scientists recently discovered it was caused by global warming.

A volcanic act triggered a heat wave, which caused methane that was frozen on the ocean floor to be released, rising up and decimating life as it was.

Armed with the knowledge of the past, and studying some of the life forms that no longer exist, does Norton see global warming as a threat to life today?

“No one really knows the effect of global warming, or what is going to happen. But we know what has happened in the past,” he said.

Although none of the creatures featured in the exhibition are around today –not even descendants –there was a hint of life to come.

Lystrosaurus, or more easily known as a shovel lizard, were one of the few species to survive the mass extinction.

“These guys …made up about 90 per cent of all life on earth,” Norton said.

They went on to evolve into some of the first mammals.

These are facts that Norton has picked up as a by-product of his job. He wasn’t particularly fascinated by dinosaurs or the prehistoric ages as a child.

In fact, he wanted to be an artist.


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