Portsmouth palaeontologist advised on Walking with Dinosaurs 3D

A University of Portsmouth palaeontologist worked as a creature designer and technical consultant on Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, the epic new dinosaur film which allows the audience to experience what it was really like when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Dr Mark Witton, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, designed several of the film’s animals, including a small carnivorous dinosaur, two pterosaurs, a toothed bird and a mammal. He also advised on the behaviour, anatomy and locomotion of the pterosaurs.

The film is a prehistoric adventure in which you see Patchi, an underdog horned dinosaur, triumph against all the odds to become a hero for the ages.

Image shows a pterosaur which belongs to the same group as those featured in Walking with Dinosaurs 3D. Credit: Mark Witton

Dr Witton, who attended the premiere of the film in London last weekend, said: “Virtually my entire career has been devoted to understanding pterosaurs, so I was delighted to share my knowledge with the team producing this film. It was a terrific process working with the designers and animators – I even learnt a few things myself – and it’s come together to make a great looking movie.

“There’s always an air of uncertainty surrounding palaeontological film projects – you never quite know how committed the movie makers are to the science – but the team behind the Walking with Dinosaurs movie was a veritable palaeontological supergroup. They got all the right guys for the right jobs.

“We really tried to work from the ground up on each aspect of the animals in the movie – how they move, how they behaved and communicated, and so on – and I hope that comes through for audiences. It definitely contains some of the most glorious prehistoric creatures ever committed to celluloid – they’re incredible works of art.

“I started contributing to the characters in late 2010 so it’s amazing to see them finally come to life.”

Dr Mark Witton

The film is based on the popular six-part BBC television series, Walking with Dinosaurs, which was broadcast in 1999. It will be released in cinemas on 20 December.

Another dinosaur expert from the University was also involved with the new movie; Dr Steve Sweetman took part in the launch of a dinosaur app for smart phones and tablets earlier this year, which was part of a programme of events co-ordinated by Visit Isle of Wight to celebrate the countdown to the release of the film.

The dinosaur app allows visitors to use their smart phones and tablets to take pictures of their family and friends walking alongside the dinosaurs that roamed the Isle of Wight 130 million years ago, while at the same time learning more about the dinosaur characters in the movie.

Dr Sweetman also attended the Isle of Wight premiere of the film at the weekend.

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