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23.10.17

Animator brings missing-link back to life

An animation lecturer from the University of Dundee has used a 150 year-old fossil cast to bring the missing link between birds and dinosaurs back to life.

Using the fossil cast of an archaeopteryx which belonged to the world-renowned biologist and polymath D’Arcy Thompson, the work of animation expert Brendan Body has proved a hit on social media amongst palaeontologists.

Brendan’s clips on social media, showing how the archaeopteryx may have moved – went viral among dino-enthusiasts and designers alike. Brendan said, “I got a lot of instantaneous feedback from dinosaur experts across the world. This was helpful as I’m bridging the gap between the pre-historic and our modern 3D world.

“With the insight of palaeontologists around the world we can make the archaeopteryx move exactly as current theories suggest. However, it turns out there is still a lot up for debate when it comes to whether it could fly or merely just glide.”

Dinosaurs have played a prominent part in Brendan’s career, who has previously animated for films and TV series such as Dinotopia, he is now a lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. He continued, “Films like Jurassic Park were definitely a source of inspiration for me, pointing me towards working on visual effects for films. Moving into research I’d now like to take this further and get it to point where I can help experts around the work develop fully-functioning animations of newly discovered dinosaurs.”

Brendan’s archaeopteryx will be on display at the Lamb Gallery in the Tower Building at the University until Friday 15th December, as part of the ‘Harmonious Complexity’ – a special exhibition which marks 100 years since the publication of D’Arcy’s landmark book ‘On Growth and Form’.

D’Arcy Thompson held the position of Professor of Natural History at University College, Dundee for 32 years. He then moved to the University of St Andrews in 1917 to take up the chair of Natural History and remained there for the last 31 years of his life.

The exhibition is free to attend and will be open between 9.30am until 7pm weekdays and 1pm until 5pm on Saturdays.