This Day in Tech History

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Dinner In A Dinosaur


December 31, 1853: A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of a Dinosaur

On New Year’s Eve 1853 Sir Richard Owen hosted a dinner for 21 prominent men of science inside a hollow concrete Iguanodon. [Photo above – Woodcut of the famous (crowded) banquet in Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’ standing Crystal Palace Iguanodon]



The Iguanodon was created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen, the dinner took place in South London.



Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (8 February 1807 – 27 January 1894) was an English sculptor and natural history artist renowned for his work on the life-size models of dinosaurs in the Crystal Palace Park in south London. The models, accurately made using the latest scientific knowledge, created a sensation at the time. Hawkins was also a noted lecturer on zoological topics.

Sir Richard Owen, (20 July 1804 – 18 December 1892) was an English biologist, comparative anatomist and paleontologist. Despite being a controversial figure, Owen is generally considered to have been an outstanding naturalist with a remarkable gift for interpreting fossils.



Owen produced a vast array of scientific work, but is probably best remembered today for coining the word Dinosauria (meaning “Terrible Reptile” or “Fearfully Great Reptile”).

He published the first important general account of the great group of Mesozoic land-reptiles, and he coined the name Dinosauria from Greek δεινός (deinos) “terrible, powerful, wondrous” + σαῦρος (sauros) “lizard”. Owen used 3 genera to define the dinosaurs: the carnivorous Megalosaurus, the herbivorous Iguanodon and armored Hylaeosaurus.


Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Park

With Hawkins, Owen helped create the first life-size sculptures depicting dinosaurs as he thought they might have appeared. Some models were initially created for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but 33 were eventually produced when the Crystal Palace was relocated to Sydenham, in South London.

Bon Appétit


The 'dinosaur' models under construction at Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins' studio in Sydenham.

The ‘dinosaur’ models under construction at Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’ studio in Sydenham.


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