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What Do You Call a Dinosaur?

The Bill Billings triceratops

The Monday Photo

The triceratops lived between 66 and 68 million years ago, ate shrubs and weighed up to seven tons, more than an African bull elephant.

This statue of a triceratops is 43 years old and is made of concrete. It’s in Milton Keynes and was built without permission; its creator, local artist Bill Billings, lived inside it for three weeks to prevent Milton Keynes Development Corporation demolishing it.

I’ve seen a photo of it under construction at Peartree Bridge in 1978. The photo’s not very sharp, but there’s a steel frame (part of it looks like scaffolding tube) that seems to be covered in chicken wire. This all supports the concrete outer surface; this dinosaur is hollow inside.

The photo shows trees between the concrete triceratops and the road , but they haven’t been planted long and are maybe only six feet high. Back then, the dinosaur could look at the traffic over the top of them. There’s also a post and rail fence just in front of the statue; there’s no sign of that now.

There’s a mystery, though. The photo caption says the triceratops was being rebuilt, so had MKDC already knocked one statue down, and the one we see today is not the original? If you know, please leave a comment, then perhaps I can amend this post and tell the whole story.

In 1980 the dinosaur was given a name after a competition in the local schools; Desdemona. She is life sized; it looks like Bill Billings, who passed away on Boxing day 2007, had done his homework.

The blue colour scheme is just the latest I’ve seen over the years. I have photos of it all in gold, in green, and in a spiderman design.

I meant to go and check in case it’s been painted since I took this photo late last year, but didn’t. Perhaps I’ll take a trip out on the bicycle today and see; it’s only about ten minutes away.

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