If you could have dinner anywhere in the world or in anything in the world, where would it be? For a few lucky London gentlemen in 1853, they were able to have dinner in an Iguanodon model. The dinner took place on December 30, 1853 and was a once in a lifetime event. The model was built for an exhibition called the Crystal Palace. The builder, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, worked for Richard Owen. Together, they created models of many types of dinosaurs. The creations fascinated and terrified the public. The models were life-sized and unlike anything these 19th century people had ever witnessed before. In fact, the Crystal Palace’s display has been compared to the modern Jurassic Park series. What made Hawkins and Owen so revolutionary was that up until their project, no one had thought of putting the skeletons of dinosaurs together and recreating how they looked. Of course, many of their creations actually were quite far off from what modern science has been able to deduce about the appearance of these animals. Hawkins was the artist, and Owen was the scientist. Together, they combined to make an exhibition that the public would not forget soon. The team recreated all the known types of dinosaurs, which created an impressive array. In the winter of 1853, the Iguanodon statue was under construction. That was when these two men had a brilliant idea: have a dinner party inside the partially completed statue. Invitations were sent out to a select group of men. The table was placed inside the hollow interior of the animal, and a stage was built surrounding the statue to allow the servers and guest access to the inside of the animal. That evening, Mr. Richard Owen took the head of the table, sitting literally in the head of the animal. The dinner sparked quite an interest in the project and brought many people to view the finished products when they were completed. While much of Owen’s science has since been found to be faulty, the statues have remained a testament to the rise of interest in dinosaurs. Even today, long after the Crystal Palace burnt down, the statues still stand as a testament to Hawkins’s talent.
The Iguanodon statue today. Photo credits: http://www.places-to-go.org.uk/Photos/crystalpalace_iguanodon.jpg